Saturday, July 27, 2013

The sound of a thousand years of Life

Day 5/5  - O.U.R Eco-village, Shawnigan Lake, BC

Moyo in the foreground of Evelyn's afternoon mbira class
I find myself resting upon a lovingly sculpted cob bench, tucked away in a quiet corner of the Chillage, reflecting on my slightly, over saturated brain-full of melodies, rhythms, lyrics and an assortment of songs. The last day of Nhemamusasa North is upon me, and I am speechlessly in awe.

Having arrived here on Wednesday knowing only three Mbira songs, and a creeping curiosity of what the Shona Culture was about, I can't help but smile at the infinitely profound depths of what this music has to offer the world.

I picked up an Mbira for the first time this spring whilst in Bali, Indonesia. The guardian of the instrument looked down at my hands, plucked at my long thumb nail and decreed

"You're an Mbira player"

And so the passion was seeded.....

After learning 13 mbira songs it can be
hard to see anything but the music.
I feel these ancient rhythms blossoming into a profound and personal connection with the Divine. Most my life I have yearned to play some kind of instrument, ANY instrument! But as time passed the only musical thing to really stick close had been my voice. 
So you can imagine my excitement to finally have something to play!!! And what an instrument indeed!

Traditionally played in Zimbabwe by the Shona people, mbira has been used in every day musical endeavours, sacred ceremonies and even as a spirit medium to channel the ancestors long past. My time at Nhema has thrown me head first into the depths of this culture. 

A culture where the people and the music are not easily separated. Where circles of song, dance and music are a constantly present in a community, as a means of communication, creative expression, meditation, and sacred act. Songs of old that tell stories and morals, that can yet easily be woven with the problems of an individual in the present moment. Imagine a world where we just sing our frustrations out in humorous way with our family or community! Releasing emotions of grief, anger, happiness, joy, excitement all through song and dance.
From left to right, Memory, Evelyn and Paul

We were blessed to be taught by Zimbabwean musicians who came in from as close as down the road, and as far as Toronto. One of my personal favourite groups that came out from Ontario to share their traditions and songs were Nhapitapi Mbira [find the on Facebook here]. The trio consisting of Evelyn, Memory and Moyo are amazing teachers and were just beaming with love and excitement to be out on our beautiful BC coast to play with us!

Amidst 5 days of workshops, jam sessions, delicious organics meals and new friends, the highlight of this entire experience would have to be the evenings around the fire. I can only imagine how profoundly amazing it must feel for all the Zimbabweans to be able to come together and play music all night long around a fire, under the star speckled sky and waxing moon. A nourishing taste of home I bet ;-)

So if you haven'y yet waded into the depths of African music, here's your chance to take a dip into the vast and ancient waters of mbira, marimba, drumming, song and dance! I hope you do! Here are a couple videos to break the ice, and a few of our audio recordings from camp! 

Check out the fabulous list of teachers and guest artists Here

Moyo & Carolina dancing the afternoon away!

Drum Class 
Nhapitapi on stage with Tich on guitar

The last Marimba jam
Even for the best of us, Mbira songs can totally stump the mind
Lunch by the garden
Sometimes you have to take a minute with a new friend to figure a song out

Fireweed and bees along a fence

O.U.R Ecovillage is definitely a step out of time

Everyone can make music
Tailgate Mbira maker Curtis

5 days of non stop music and you could fall asleep beside Marimba band too!

Our last night under the stars together

Fire faeries come out to join us

Full moon rising

Thank you all!