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The Mbira Series: The Technique of the Mbira Dza Vadzimu

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This film is a fascinating, detailed analysis of Mbira dza Vadzimu playing techniques, featuring famed Mbira player Ephat Mujuru, narrated by African music specialist, Dr. Andrew Tracey.
Physical formats available:
Digital formats available:
Quicktime (Pro Res)
Audio & visual:
Sound, Color

Mbira dza Vadzimu literally translates as “the voice of the ancestor spirits.”

The film uses close-ups, animation, and other cinematic techniques to demonstrate Mbira tonal scale, song structure, harmony, chord movement and variations, as well as the cross-rhythmic interplay of the left and right hands. It shows different styles of playing a song, and the interweaving of two Mbiras in duet.

The film provides deeper insights into the techniques of this African music, and serves as a basis for an understanding of the music played throughout the Mbira series.

Producer: Gei Zantzinger
Narrator: Dr. Andrew Tracey
Camera: Les Blank
Sound: Gei Zantzinger
Musician: Ephat Mujuru
Constant Spring Productions
Ethnomusicologist Gei Zantzinger was an independent filmmaker and student of folklore who began making films in Africa in 1966, collaborating with musicians and other notable ethnomusicologists and filmmakers. His career in the social sciences spanned nearly 50 years. Gei’s efforts resulted in a broad collection of 17 extraordinary films made between 1966 and 1997 that examine the roles that oral traditions, music and dance play in preserving and informing personal, cultural and spiritual identity in disparate communities around the world.
Music and Dance
Global selection of music and dance films and titles.