Today’s Google Doodle: chill with music of the Zimbabwean Mbira
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This Interactive Doodle celebrates the beginning of Zimbabwe's Culture Wee (Photo: Observer)
Before creating the doodle, Google visited the Shona people in Zimbabwe to learn more about the mbira and its ties to the Shona culture, according to CN Net.
“I think anyone who has had more than five minutes with Zimbabwean mbira cannot forget the sound,” said Albert Chimedza, a musician, the founder of the Mbira Centre and a speaker in an explanation video filmed by Google Doodle to accompany the Doodle.
“To me,” Chimedza continued, “it’s a cross between water and air.”
Today’s doodle is also accompanied by a game wherein the user can “play” the mbira using their laptop or handheld device, Observer reported.
“We wanted to make sure to reflect the culture of Zimbabwe and the mbira as accurately and respectfully as possible but without reappropriating the history of it,” Helene Leroux, the doodler who created the art for the mbira doodle and its respective playable programming, said to Google in a statement.
“There are so many rich aspects of that culture that it was difficult to choose what to show. For instance, we visited a school in Zimbabwe where students had learnt mbira and where they performed a wonderful show. We also saw how Shona sculpture is also a very big aspect of the culture there.”
In the midst of a global pandemic, it can be difficult to experience true peace and uncomplicated restfulness even in the safety of one’s own home, but there’s something about the sound of the mbira that cuts through ambient anxiety and produces a sensation that’s close to tranquility. For this reason, this Google doodle is especially well-timed.
Insight into the Zimbabwean Mbira
Over hundreds of years, the musical instrument has been a staple in Zimbabwean Shona ceremonies and a critical symbol of the improvisational magic that each individual musician can bring to their respective communities with their playing.
The mbira is an musical instrument from the African continent. It is sometimes called the 'thumb piano' because it is played with the thumbs and one finger.
|The Zimbabwean Mbira (Photo" Explia)|
The instrument consists of a handheld soundboard, called the gwariva, and a series of 22 to 28 thin metal keys, attached to a hardwood soundboard called the gwariva, usually placed inside a large gourd to amplify the sound.
The metal keys are plucked with both thumbs and the forefinger of the right hand. The thumbs pluck downward on the keys. The forefinger plucks upward from beneath the keys, as reported by Study.com.
Traditionally, the keys were made from iron ore smelted from rocks, but today the keys are made of recycled materials, such as car spokes or cans. Bottle caps, beads and shells can also be attached to the keys to create the mbira's distinct buzzing sound. CN Net describes.
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