Wednesday, March 2, 2011
The Mbira Cycle
Starting at Other Locations - Em

OK, ok, last week's tip comparing the first and last quarter of the mbira cycle to quantum mechanical state vectors, and the second and third quarters of the cycle to linear combinations of those state vectors - was a little over the top for most of you!

Hopefully you find today's tip a bit more practical.

Mbira cycle, starting on Em
Mbira Cycle, starting on Em

We mentioned earlier that the Mbira Cycle can actually start at several different points. This gives each of the four "quarters", or phrases, totally different meaning. From a western point of view, starting on the Em and proceeding clockwise, instead of starting on the G at the top, is like playing in the relative minor. Karimba music (that is, the less complicated cycle that is presumably the forerunner to the Mbira Cycle) also displays songs that are in the relative minor.

As an example of some music written based on the Mbira Cycle in the relative minor starting at this second starting point identified by Andrew Tracey, please listen to this song I composed on a F-tuned Hugh Tracey Alto kalimba.