Google Doodle is celebrating Zimbabwe’s national instrument, the Mbira as Zimbabwe begins their Culture Week.
Following the celebration, Google users are then invited to learn to play a virtual Mbira, by hovering their mouse over the keys, as they play a traditional song called “Nhemamusasa.”
The Mbira consists of a handheld hardwood soundboard (gwariva) affixed with a series of thin metal keys, which are plucked by the thumbs and forefinger – it is sometimes called a ‘thumb piano’.
A large hollow gourd (deze) provides amplification, and bottle caps or beads can be attached to the soundboard to create the instrument’s signature buzzing sound.
What sort of music is played on it?
The music played on the instrument is also called ‘mbira’, and often consists of two or more interlocking parts.
Players will improvise over the top of these musical components, so no two performances are exactly alike.
The Mbira originated in Southern Africa, and has long played an integral role in the traditions and cultural identity of Zimbabwe’s Shona people; some 11 million people strong in the country.
A variety of Shona ceremonies make prominent use of the instrument, a vital link to the past through songs that have been passed down through generations over hundreds of years.