Friday, November 21, 2008

Mbira session in Sasayama

Following my brief Kyushu tour and a last visit to friends in Kyoto, I caught the train a few hours to Sasayama in Hyogo prefecture, where I met up with mbira buddy Masa Sakurai who had come from Tokyo to introduce me to senior Japanese mbira sister Yuki-neh (which means Yuki-sister). They have both spent lots of time in Zimbabwe learning from the famous mbira master Gariyakai (please tell me if you know the correct spelling).

Tabla and mbira are a well-matched but rare combo, a meeting across the Indian Ocean. Both instruments have a similar acoustic level and organic tonal quality, resonant tones, and trancey rhythms, and both have a strong association with spiritual music.

After a brief tabla-mbira session, we went to a really amazing multi-level onsen and had a yummy winter nabe and a few drinks. Then Yuki-neh says "Now we are good and drunk, we should play mbira. You have to be drunk to really play mbira."

Normally I don't drink and play tabla, but if trying to mix with the Zimbabwean spirit one should do as the mbira-masters do. Mbira music is used for spirit-medium work and the trancey repetitive 6 beat rhythms and offbeat melodies are very powerful consciousness transmuters, taking one's mind out of the normal mode. A bit of alcohol stops the conscious mind stepping in and inhibiting the process. I found myself in a place of no thought, playing tabla in completely new ways along with the mbira music. More of that please.

Masa and Yuki-neh seeking the spirit realms through mbira music

1 comment:

FishBird Freed-Man said...

Awesome experiences bro! Mbira rhythms truly can throw you to inner space. it's an awesome feeling. thanks for reminding me... :)

Perhaps some day soon I also will travel to japan to perform with my mbira-afro-vibe band Adamaduma.
You know of good places to play / mbira people there?

btw you can check us out if you feel like at:
but there will be much cooler recordings soon.

Blessings, and may the magic of music continue to fill your life!