Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015


Forward Kwenda was born in the rural Buhera area of Zimbabwe, and as a boy excelled in traditional dance and recitation of ancient poetry. At the age of 10, he began to play ngoma (drums) and hosho (gourd rattles) for his mother's gombwe (rain-making) spirit. He was given the name "Forward" because of his curiosity about many subjects, enthusiastic involvement in many activities, and his singing for liberation war freedom fighters.

At an early age, Forward borrowed an mbira and, with no teacher other than occasional radio programs, began to play on his own. In 1984, Kwenda moved to Zimbabwe's capital city of Harare and began to play mbira with other musicians. Within a year, he had formed his own mbira group and was making records and performing on national radio, as well as performing constantly at mapira ceremonies. During this period, he was informed by powerful rain-making spirits that he was to devote his life to playing mbira for their ceremonies. He was particularly known as the teenager for bringing the desired spirits to a ceremony by the end of the first song .
In 1985, Forward began playing in a unique complex style - much to the amazement of master mbira players two and three generations his senior. This style, considered in Shona culture to be "more ancient" because spirits prefer it


Friday, May 15, 2015



This is an opening segment for a tromba ceremony,
 in which ancestral spirits are alerted to the need for them to appear in the present moment.
 Specific spirits have particular powers, so a different spirit will be called
 depending on the needs of the particular participants at each tromba ceremony.
 Some spirits for instance are adept at curing particular illnesses;
 others resolve disputes; others give good advice, etc. 
Each spirit has a particular melodic motive, played on maro tady, to which she or he will respond.
 As this is the musical introduction to a tromba ceremony, 
Vinelo is performing much chanting in this segment
 in which he is communicating to and about the razana,
 the collective of revered Malagasy ancestral spirits.
 At approximately 4'30" Vinelo begins a deep breathy mode of singing called ndrimotra,
 a term which comes from the verb "to heal". 
At approximately 11'20" Vinelo moves into a different melodic motive.
 Here he would be beginning to invite a particular ancestral spirit into the present
 to affect treatment of an ill patient.