Monday, 19 March 2012

A workshop, a show but no camera

On Saturday I went to a music workshop run by PuppetCraft where I learnt a little about mbira technique by watching master musician Chartwell Dutiro play. I understood immediately why he doesn't use the name 'thumb piano' for his instrument. He uses the forefinger of his right hand, playing the keys from underneath, as well as his thumbs. I have yet to try this myself but somehow I don't think I'll come close to emulating Chartwell's technique.
The picture is of his mbira in a gourd which is used to amplify the sound. Both mbira and gourd have shells attached which buzz, like radio static, with the vibrations. This isn't to everyone's taste and the first thing I do with any mbira that comes into my possession is disable this feature.

I also came across an instrument I had never seen before and this is always a pleasure. It consists of a small iron cowbell (but no clapper, of course) and a ring. The cowbell is worn around the thumb and the ring around a finger. Striking the ring against the bell makes a a sound something like a metallic castanet. Another of these sets, with a different pitch, is worn on the other hand.

 Having somehow overlooked the fact that a puppet show was attached to the workshop, and having an appointment to make elsewhere, I didn't see the show 'Circle of Tales' until the follwoing day. Exquisite puppets, expertly manipulated. A real treat. I just wish I had remembered my camera. A cheap phone is no substitute when it comes to taking pictures in low light.

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