What is ethnomusicology? It comes from the word, ¡§ethnographic¡¨, which is the study of music within its social content and it is an account based on research. It documents traditional music and focuses on what the meaning of music is. ¡§ethnomusicological research also involves history, and for many studies history is the focus. Often ethnomusicologists study cultures other than their own, a situation that distinguishes this field from most historical musicology¡¨ (Meyers, 1992: 3). In this essay one will discuss and give a description of the most important musical, social and historical features of the following music styles in Southern Africa: Chopi Timiblia Music, Shona Mbira Music and the Venda National Dance: Tshikona.
The Timbila xylophone is the primary musical instrument of the elaborately choreographed and musically accompanied Migodo (sing. Ngodo) dance dramas of the Chopi people of Southern Mozambique (Tracey, 1970: 1). This tradition unlike most others studied in Africa to this date, consists of large orchestras of xylophones that perform extended pieces divided into programmatic movements. These movements consist of dance, music, and sung texts carefully woven together into a performance genre taken by many scholars as evidence of the influence of Indonesian practices on the continent. The practices require a lot of people i.e. it becomes a community event. The musical traditions of the Chopi are distinctly African, containing numerous musical and textual elements that reflect African social relations, musical aesthetics, and daily realities. Their orchestras consist of five to thirty wooden xylophones (Timbila) of varying sizes and ranges of pitch. The Timbila are finely manufactured and tuned wooden instruments, which are made from the highly resonant wood called the sneezewood. Under each wooden slat, a resonant is fastened, tightly sealed with bees wax and tempered with oil from a fruit, giving the Timbila their rich nasalizing sound and...
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