Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The Mbira Cycle
Introducing The Mbira Cycle

The Karimba Cycle is basically like I-IV-I-V, i.e., a simple folk song. The Mbira Cycle is like expanding that simple folk song to Pachelbel's Canon.

Mbira cycle
The Mbira Cycle

Many songs in the Shona mbira tradition follow this cycle starting at G and proceeding clockwise.

If you know music, you can look at this and just jump right in. What if you don't know music? You can play through each of the chords for a count of 4 or 6 beats.

If you don't know the chords, they are presented in this pdf for the Alto, Treble, Pentatonic, and 8-Note kalimbas.

If you want to get fancy, don't play every note in each chord, but play each of four notes one at a time, then move on to the next chord.

Next week: can you find the karimba cycle embedded in the mbira cycle?