What a Wonderful Tree!
Nature Gave Us!
Nsala (Masala tree) and Ndzhiuva (Tindzhiva tree)
are sources of sustainable life!
They give us:
7. Bow for Xizambi
8. Tooth medicine
9. Wood for sculpture
10. Wood to cook and
warm our souls!
11. Shell rattles
Because we have a Culture,
We are Humans!
I wish I were
the Nkomati River
And, when finally, its soul goes to heaven,
It leaves us organic material
for life to carry on!
to cook and warm ourselves!
The First Mukhambira Mbira
In 1995 I was given a mbira by Dr. Dumisani Maraire, who was my lecturer at the Zimbabwe College of Music. It was homework for me, to research on that instrument, which reached his hands as a"Shangani Mbira". Knowing that I was a Shangani boy, Mariaire asked me whether I knew that type of mbira. But, unfortunately, even after my extensive fieldwork in Mozambique, I had not come across such a mbira -Mbira culture was almost extinct in Mozambique! However, the homework was set, and later on, the results came./
Ten years later, when I started to research on mbira building, in 2005, this mbira fell in the pool of my raw materials for experimental endeavour. In fact, it was for me raw! I, then, removed its original keys, whose musicology I had not figured out; cut some circular shapes on the board, to give it my character, and fitted new keys, made from stripes cut out of a steel sheet with a hand grinder, in a mbira dzavadzimu format. few keys were close to the desired pitches, but most were discrepant.
Conducting analogical/comparative experiments with the xylophone key tuning procedure, of redistributing mass -shifting/adding/removing- through the key's length to alter its acoustical behaviour, I figured out how to raise and drop the frequency of the key without changing its length or width -that was the tuning formula that became to be used by most mbira makers in Maputo.
Luka Mukhavele his a music artist and scholar from Mozambique. He holds a PhD in "Music + Logic = Musicology" completed at the UNESCO Chair-Transcultural Music Studies, University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar, Germany, with the topic "African Musical Instruments from a Contemporary Global Perspective: Mbira and Xizambi”.
Luka believes in "Instruments as the physical form of music", in parallel with his academic work, Luka founded the Mukhambira Project, in 2005 to research on indigenous/traditional musical instruments. From that time, formally shifted his focus full-time to indigenous/local musical instruments, abandoning, so to say, the guitar, saxophone, and flute that he has been usually seen with.
From 2008 to 2016, Luka lectured four below courses at the Escola de Comunicação e Artes, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, in Maputo, Mozambique, namely:
1. Acústica e Organologia
2. Análise Organológica de Instrumentos Musicais Tradicionais de Moçambique
3. Seminário Sobre Construção de Instrumentos Musicais Tradicionais
4. Seminário Sobre Investigação Musicológica
Pushing his scope further, concurrently, his teaching, which demanded a lot of primary research, served as an important catapult that launched him into his aforementioned PhD dissertation research and writing.
Bothered by the progressive detriment and crashing of local musical praxis/cultures by the multinational gigantic music monopolistic industries, and through the irrational and unsustainable use of digital technologies imposed by the aforementioned monopolies, as blindly adopted by the locals, Mukhavele opted for systematic and creative musicological research, exploring various music-related- disciplines in dealing with the most tangible aspect of music, the musical instruments. This approach, served to retrieve lost concepts and/or develop ones, raising awareness of the role and potential of local musics/instruments as a human development force. Likewise, the approach fostered the continuity and integration of local instruments and respective musicians in locally relevant and sustainable present-day contexts, such as academic institutions, festivals, "ethnic concerts", tourist resorts, etc.
Although he was always involved with music, only in 1991 did Luka make a full-time career shift from language teaching to a music scholarship, managing the Ethnomusicology Department of ARPAC -the Cultural Heritage Archives of the Mozambican Ministry of Culture. In this position, Luka travelled countywide documenting and collecting musical tangible and intangible heritage/artefacts/icons to be preserved in the archives and used as didactic/resource materials and samples and for further studies. In 1995-1996 he joined a General Certificate in Music course, jointly run by the Zimbabwe College of Music and the University of Zimbabwe, towards an ethnomusicology-oriented degree, and in 1997 he established his research field in Timbila Recording Studio, which he built in Harare, Zimbabwe.
In 2005, almost half-year after his return to Mozambique, Luka found himself in shortage of mbira, to carry on his musical activities, when one of his favourite mbira bought in Zimbabwe, from Mr. Kanga-Fry, a renowned Harare-based mbira (maker?) player got damaged. Not having a teacher or a consultant in the subject of mbira construction, Luka resorted to Theory-Informed Experimental Research, seeking to understand the acoustical behaviour of metal lamellae, and the musicology behind the mbira, which immediately became the core of his research.
After the first successful experiment, he decided to found the Mukhambira Project, a central pillar in the contemporary mbira history of Mozambique. Mukhambira engaged in the construction, dissemination, teaching, and revival of lamellaphones in Maputo, which subsequently, spread throughout the country. It became the first such project, that developed its own methods, using and interfacing modern/conventional and indigenous technologies and knowledge systems in a creative and yet scientific manner, to come up with new/own models of mbira. It was, therefore, the first project that produced lamellaphones in a semi-industrialized setting, a method which has quickly created a new generation of mbira makers in Maputo, and probably, in the whole country, and thus, initiating the revival of the mbira.
However, Mukhambira did not stop on Mbira. Several other traditional/indigenous instruments have captured the interest and attention of Luka, in his Mukhambira project. Such cases are: Xizambi, Ximbvokombvoko, xitende, xipendani, xigoviya, marimba, flutes and an array of aerophones, which are still on his research lab, as witnessed on this site, his Youtube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/@lukamukhavele7240; his concerts, lectures, etc.
Eager to expand his knowledge pool, in 2008-2010 Luka enrolled for an MA in World Music Studies, at The University of Sheffield, defending with the topic Factors for Continuity and Changes in the Folk/Traditional Musics of Mozambique; and in 2015 he got admitted as a PhD student at the Hochschule für Musikwissenschaft Franz Liszt Weimar, in Weimar, whose writing he completed between from 2018 to 2021.
Luka uses his rebuilt and re-modelled instruments as new contributions to the body of artistic and scientific knowledge on the subject, that leverage the feeble musical cultures, mostly, in colonized societies and/or weaker economy countries. These instruments have become his musical identity both in academic and artistic forums and, in these forums, as extensions of his research field, he examines the applicability of the studied instruments; tests his hypotheses and validates his theories, in both old and new contexts.
As such, the instruments have been philosophically, physically, and stylistically, and in general, organologically re-conceived wherever necessary, and where applicable, interfaced/fused with a variety of instrument concepts and technologies from different cultures. Current activities encompass comparative approaches, to further assess his research methods in different musical cultures/regions of the world, as a model for empowering local musical systems, but also, to artistically and scientifically approach the challenges of musicology.
PhD Musicology, Transcultural Music Studies -The University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar
MA World Music Studies -The University of Sheffield
1/2 BA Zimbabwe College of Music -University of Zimbabwe
Editor of course: "Living Heritage in Africa: Music and the Performing Arts",
UNESCO Chair, Transcultural Music Studies
The Uniuversity of Music Franz Liszt Weimar
Director of Mukhambira Project
Mukhambira is also a cultural movement, fronting a cultural revolution, as expressed in the song Hondo (war) of Luka. As such, it gained a lot from the implacable and uncompromising, but highly committed militant, Ivan Johan Mukhavele, a front-liner in this project, who regardless of all the up-and-down challenges remained a faithful fighter. It was impossible to realize Mukhambira without Ivan. Ivan is himself a Mukhambira, as Mukhambira is stored in his heart, and printed on his forehead!
Ivan Mucavel is a very engaged and perseverant musician, instrument builder, and music researcher from Mozambique. After many years of a renowned career as a percussionist, he shifted his focus to mbira, for which today he stands as a main icon in Maputo, if not in the whole of Mozambique. His passion for mbira gained its momentum when he had the opportunity to engage with the mbira types of the Shona people, whose history of origins and evolution always interweaved Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This phase began when in the late 1990s he joined his uncle Luka Mukhavele an ethnomusicologist who had established his own recording studios “Timbila Recording Studios” in Harare as a facility for music production and research. In these studios, Ivan got to meet and interact with different musicians from Zimbabwe, such as Andy Brown, Chiwoniso Maraira, Ephat Mujuru, Kanga Fry and others, all of whom had their music based on mbira. Apart from collaborating, Ivan took lessons from various mbira masters, who in turn got studio time.
In 2004, after his return to Maputo, Ivan became part of the inception of Mukhambira Musical, a project created and led by Luka Mukhavele, aiming to reinvigorate traditional musical instruments. Inherently, this project laid the ground for Luka’s PhD thesis, initially on the topic: “Challenges and Potentials of Traditional Musical Instruments_Xizambi, Mbira, and Ximbvokombvoko in a new Contemporary Context.” Whereas he was the main research assistant of Luka in Mukhambira, Ivan became second to none in the process of disseminating the Nyunganyunga Mbira in Maputo and Mozambique, in general: he offered courses on mbira construction and performance to prisoners in the jail of Nampula and various institutions; initiated and lead the foundation of Wakambira (the third biggest mbira/traditional musical instrument project after Mukhambira and Xitata), created in 2015, from where all the other young mbira players/builders of Maputo learned the trade; and he taught so many young people to build and to play the nyunganyunga.
Ivan was the first young Mozambican to appear in television playing mbira, in the 1990s. Today, Maputo is full of mbira players and builders, all of whom employ the techniques invented in Mukhambira by Luka and Ivan. However, Ivan did not end on the nyunganyunga. After the nyunganyunga was well established in Maputo, Ivan took on the mbira dzavadzimu, having developed his own version from a combination of the two types (mbira nyunganyunga and dzavadzimu), which he called Dzava-Nyungwe; and built nyunganyunga mbira that cover Low, mid, and high ranges, respectively, to be played together as a set. Today, Ivan is the most outstanding mbira builder/supplier in Maputo, working from the base of Mukhambira, in Marakweni (wrongly spelled as Marracuene), a small town about 30 kilometres to the north of Maputo City.
Ivan, in the name of Mukhambira, has hosted so many important figures of the culture sector in Mozambique. The highlight, though, was the visit of the Mozambican Minister of Culture, Eldevina Materula, with her technical staff, on the 1st of October 2020, who wanted to see, hear, exchange ideas, and discuss the strategies and aims of the Mukhambira project, to introduce mbira in schools as well as to disseminate it massively in society, and to donate means of production.
Name: Ivan Mucavel
Project: Mukhambira Musical
Posto Administrativo de Marracuene Bairro Massinga
Mobile: 00258 84 2192478 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org