The Soul of Mbira: Music and Traditions of the Shona People of Zimbabwe

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University of Chicago Press, Jun 1, 1993 - Music - 312 pages
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This sensitive, scholarly portrayal of Shona musicians and the African Musical tradition is highly engaging and comprehensive in its range of data. Paul Berliner provides the complete cultural context for the music and an intimate, precise account of the meaning of the instrument and its music.

"Paul Berliner's The Soul of Mbira is probably the best ethnography ever written about an African musical tradition. It is a complete classic . . . . I know of no other instrument with the range of the mbira, and the book is equal to the instrument."—John Chernoff

"[The Soul of Mbira] illustrates the fact that Shona mbira music in its beauty, subtlety, and virtuosity demands the same kind of respect that we might hold for any other classical music."—David Reck, Parabola

"The book is a model of ethnomusicological thinking and investigation and it suggests a specific way of approaching a complex socio-musical system."—John Baily, Popular Music

"When next someone asks 'What is ethnomusicology?' or 'What do ethnomusicologists do?' I shall suggest this book. . . . This is a landmark in ethnomusicological literature. Berliner succeeds in conveying both the joy that goes with mbira playing and the mystic relationship between the player and his instrument. In short, this is humanized ethnomusicology."—K.A. Gourlay, Ethnomusicology

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Introduction i
An Overview of Shona Mbira
The Nature of Mbira Music
The Shona Mbira Ensemble
Learning the Mbira
The Poetry of the Mbira
Music and Spirit Possession at a Shona Bira
Mbira in the Lives
of Five Mbira DzaVadzimu

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About the author (1993)

Paul F. Berliner is professor of ethnomusicology at Northwestern University. He is the author of The Soul of Mbira, also published by the University of Chicago Press, and is the recipient of an ASCAP-Deems Taylor award for outstanding writing in music.

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