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Mbira Music

Professor Anand Prahlad brings the music of Zimbabwe to Mizzou

Anand Prahlad, a professor of folklore, film and poetry in the Department of English, demonstrates the mbira. Also known as an African thumb piano, the mbira is a musical instrument created and performed by the Shona people of Zimbabwe.

Made of metal keys attached to a wooden sound board, it's played in religious ceremonies and social gatherings. Bottle caps attached to the board vibrate when when the keys are plucked, producing a sound intended to invoke the spirits. For amplification, an mbira player might play the instrument inside a carved gourd known as a deze.

As part of Mizzou's 175th anniversary week, world-renowned mbira players Fradreck Mujuru and Erica Azim performed "Shona Stories Through Song" in Columbia.

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