The original African mbira?




Mbira -- South Africa, Mbira -- Zimbabwe -- Mbira -- Mozambique


It may be possible to show, one day, that all the different mbiras of Africa are descended from one another, and that all stem from one particular type, which can then be assumed to be the form of the instrument as it was originally invented. I would like to present here some evidence to show that in one large part of Africa at least all the many types of mbiras can be traced back, with greater or lesser degrees of probability, to one type which must, at least, be very ancient, and at most, if connections with, or distribution to other mbira areas of Africa can be proved, may be the nearest we will get to knowing the earliest form of the mbira in Africa


John Blacking: “Patterns of Nsenga Kalimba music”, African Music, 11, 4, 1961.

Marjor y Davidson : “A Lunda kalendi”, African Music, III, 2, 1963, and III, 3, 1964. “Some music for the Lala kankobele”, African Music, IV, 4, 1970.

A. M. Jones: African music in Northern Rhodesia and some other places, Rhodes-Livingstone Museum, 1943;
“The Kalimba of the Lala tribe, Northern Rhodesia”, Africa, XX, 4, 1950;
“Venda note-names”, African Music, III, 1, 1962;
Africa and Indonesia, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1964.
P. R. Kirby : The musical instruments of the native races of South Africa Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg, 1953.

Gerhard Kubik : “Generic names for the mbira”, African Music, III, 3, 1964 and III, 4, 1965.

Carl Mauch : The journals of Carl Mauchy ed. E. E. Burke, National Archives of Rhodesia, 1969.

A. A. Mensah : “The music of Zumaile village, Zambia”, African Music, IV, 4, 1970.

G. T. Nurse: “Cewa concepts of musical instruments”, African Music, IV, 4, 1970.

Andrew Tracey : “The mbira music of Jege A. Tapera”, African Music, II, 4, 1961;
“Three tunes for mbira dza vadzimu”, African Music, III, 2, 1963;
“The tuning of mbira reeds”, African Musicy IV, 3, 1969;
“The matepe mbira music of Rhodesia”, African Music, IV, 4, 1970;
How to play the mbira d%a vadzimu, International Library of African Music, Roodepoort, South Africa,

Hugh Tracey : “A case for the name mbira”, African Music, II, 4, 1961;
“The mbira class of instruments in Rhodesia (1932)”, African Music, IV, 3, 1969.




How to Cite

Tracey, Andrew. 1972. “The Original African Mbira?”. African Music : Journal of the International Library of African Music 5 (2):85-104.

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