Ndoro Dze Madzinza
This project is a result of an ongoing effort to reclaim a relationship to the African traditions denied to my ancestors who survived the Middle Passage. Their Spirits call, and I find myself compelled to learn what I can about the culture of sub-Saharan peoples. Although I have, so far, been able to trace my ancestry back to the Yoruba, Mande and Wolof peoples, musically it is the mbira dzavadzimu of the Shona people of Zimbabwe which has captured my heart. Playing it has become a way for me to communicate with Spirit. Conceptualized over 1,000 years ago, the mbira is used in ceremonies of healing and personal meditation, and incorporates a canon of songs that are offered as prayers. The mbira is particularly associated with our ancestors - Spirits of loved ones who no longer walk the earth but are still among us offering guidance and comfort. The ndoro is an emblem personified by the spiral shape of the mollusk shell. These shells were rarely found in land-locked Zimbabwe. Because of their rarity, the ndoro spiral became an insignia of Spiritual power and are considered a link to the ancestral realm. Ndoro Dze Madzinza ('emblem of Africa's clans, linking us to our ancestors') is a collection of mbira songs which connect my heart to my ancestors. It is also my expression of appreciation for the richness and beauty not only of mbira but of Pan-African traditions, of hope for our future, and of my joy that we are coming to understand that in a very real way, all the world's people are African. Ndoro Dze Madzinza Chigwaya Tuning: low Nyamaropa In honor of the Njuzu, (mermaid Spirits) who are much loved because they bring wealth and protection. Chipembere Tuning: Gandanga / Mavembe The name means 'rhinoceros'. Kanhurura Tuning: Gandanga / Mavembe The name alludes to 'something small used to get something big', such as an object utilized to pick fruit off of a high branch. May be used in ceremony to entice the Spirit to come, because the melody is considered to be so beautiful that they cannot ignore it. This is also an example of nhetete style - soft music played toward the end of a ceremony as everyone gathers to hear what the Spirits have to say. Shumba yaNgwasha Tuning: Dambatsoko The song refers to an in-law who works very hard. Nyama Musango Tuning: Gandanga / Mavembe 'There is meat in the forest.' So, go out and get what you need. Don't wait for what you need to come to you. Chinmentengure Instrument: Karimba One of the five types of lamellophones typically played in Zimbabwe, it has a very different key arrangement and repertory than the mbira dza vadzimu. Karimba are typically played for entertainment, rather than for ceremony. Mukai Tiende Tuning, Gandanga / Mavembe 'Wake up, let's go!' Played to awaken us to do what it is we need to do. Nhema Musasa Tuning: low Nyamaropa One of the oldest and most popular songs in the 1000 year old canon of repertoire, the name means 'to build as temporary shelter in the forest'. Baya wa Baya Tuning: Dambatsoko 'Stab after stab'. Played for Kurova Guva ceremonies to welcome home the wandering Spirit of a deceased relative. Karigamombe Tuning, Gandanga / Mavembe 'Undefeatable, one who cannot be knocked to the ground.' Although this song is typically the very first one learned by new mbira students, it is regularly played in ceremonies.