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The form of a typical mbira song is cyclical ; that is, it is based on a continuous repetition of the tune. The basic tune of a piece usually has four phrases of equal length. This type of form is very common for lamellophone music throughout Africa, although the traditions for some instruments feature two-phrase rather than four-phrase melodies.

The music at a bira may need to continue for many hours; it is not uncommon for the ceremony to last all night, with only short breaks in the music. It is not unusual to play a single tune for a very long time, repeating the four-phrase melody many, many times. The music is kept interesting by a constant subtle variation on the basic tune. Most traditional pieces have more than one standard version of the melody. The player can switch between the versions, and can also improvise by changing some of the notes.

Most interestingly, the rhythm and texture of the basic melody are so complex that the player can provide "variations" on the tune simply by shifting the accents or emphasis on certain notes, or by singing along with certain notes, in order to bring out different aspects or relationships within the melody. An accomplished mbira player is so skilled at creating and elucidating interesting variations that he can keep a crowd happy while playing the same tune for hours.

Timbre and texture

The mbira dzavadzimu is constructed in a way that makes it very easy to jump between high-, low-, and medium-pitched tones. The typical mbira melody takes advantage of this, jumping quickly between the different octaves of the three manuals . Rather than hearing this as a single multi-octave melody, the listener naturally groups the high notes together into a high "melody" and the low notes into a contrasting low "melody". The notes in the middle range often seem to belong to their own, third, independent melody. This gives the music a rich contrapuntal texture , even though normally only one note is played at a time. (Bach's sonatas for unaccompanied violin or cello famously use this same "auditory illusion", producing counterpoint from a single line that bounces back and forth between high and low "melodies".)

It is this auditory illusion that allows the most subtle, and interesting, variations on the tune. It can be unclear which melody (high, medium, or low) a particular note belongs to; one note might be either a low note in the high melody, for example, or a high note in the middle melody. Thus, by making subtle shifts in accent and emphasis, or by shifting a pitch in a variation, the player can make a note "jump" from one melody to another, or can make melodies seem to appear and disappear while still playing the same sequence of notes. By bringing out a variety of inner lines in this way, the skilled player can make the same sequence of notes sound like a completely different piece of music.

In addition to creating this interlocking conterpoint, the intervals between successive pitches in the pattern tend to be octaves , fifths , and thirds (the same intervals found in Western major and minor chords ). This creates a strong impression of harmony (in the same way as a piano playing arpeggios ), often including an impression of harmonic motion or progression within each phrase, and of changes in harmony as the variations are played.

Questions & Answers

what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
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how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Musical travels for children. OpenStax CNX. Jan 06, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10221/1.11
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