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The Chopi Series: The Chopi Timbila Dance

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This film is a fascinating, insightful look at the structure, instruments and rhythms of Chopi xylophone orchestral music and dance.
Physical formats available:
Digital formats available:
Quicktime (Pro Res)
Audio & visual:
Sound, Color

Dr. Andrew Tracey, African music specialist, and Venancio Mbande, composer and Chopi master musician, explain and demonstrate the intricacies of timbila xylophone music, using animation and other cinematic techniques.  The performances are by an 11 piece orchestra with 14 dancers.

The film illuminates the cyclical structure of Chopi music, as compared to linear Western music. The tonal range and role of each xylophone in the orchestra is demonstrated, and Venancio breaks down the playing of each hand to reveal an impressive rhythmic interlock.

Producer: Gei Zantzinger
Director: Andrew Tracey (International Library of African Music)
Narrator: Andrew Tracey (International Library of African Music)
Camera: Cliff Bestall
Editor: Ben Levin
Sound: Gei Zantzinger
Field Research: Rosemary Logie & Philippa Harris
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.