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rattletree.com • View topic - Great article from Prof. Andrew Tracey on matepe music

Great article from Prof. Andrew Tracey on matepe music

Detailed look at the music...

Great article from Prof. Andrew Tracey on matepe music

Postby Joel on Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:30 pm

I spoke with Professor Tracey about his article and asked permission to post it here. He gave his permission to distribute this as it was written so long ago. He did mention that there were some typos that he may send to me one day. I'm not sure which typos he is talking about. Enjoy:

http://rattletree.com/The_Matepe_Mbira_ ... odesia.pdf
With love and gratitude,
Joel Laviolette
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Re: Great article from Prof. Andrew Tracey on matepe music

Postby Robert on Sun Feb 01, 2009 4:32 am

Hi Joel,
thanks so much for starting the matepe subforums (and outreach on Dande Mutande). I've been fascinated by what little I know. Back a few years ago when I was doing marimba more actively, I was looking at that matepe article of Dr. Tracey's that you mentioned above (which btw is: Tracey, A. (1970). The Matepe Mbira music of Rhodesia. J. African Music Society, 4:4, 37-61.) for possible inspiration for new arrangements. I was originally pointed to the article as the primary source for the song "Siti" Tracey arranged for Musango Marimba. I also looked at one of his Valimba articles (Tracey, A. (1991). "Kambazithe Makolekole and his Valimba Group" J. of ILAM, 7:1, 82-104.) for this purpose.

I ended up doing a few midi transcription experiments of the songs described in both articles, which if any readers are interested, they can listen to here.

I took musical lines from Tracey's transcriptions above, and combined a few parts within each song to see how each really sounded like (albeit in Western tones), for possible arrangements for our band. In other words the intent was not to transcribe what they would sound like in the original music documentation.

(BTW the webpage of transcriptions was part of an internal website I'd made to help the band, rather than a page designed to present a topic to the public, so if the page seems strangely conversational, that's why.)

Quote from this thread:
Joel wrote:A quick teaser:
I was listening the other day and for the first time in my life, I heard one matepe playing a 'six phrase' version of the song (six groups of eight eighth notes) while the other people were playing in the regular 'four phrase' thing. I have never in my life heard that on any mbira...have YOU?


I saw this on the transcription for Aroyiwa Mwama, and I too was floored when I saw this. I incorporated it into one of the lead line variations (see link above)... I interpreted it as three groups (of sixteen 8th notes), rather than six groups (of eight 8th notes), but that's the same thing of course. 3X16= 48 and 6x8=48... In any case, three groups is in marked contrast to our familiar mbira dzavadzimu's four groups (of twelve 8th notes): 4x12=48. It all jives up with the other lines eventually, but it pulls the listener along while taking that entire full cycle to do so.
Last edited by Robert on Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:09 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Great article from Prof. Andrew Tracey on matepe music

Postby Joel on Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:16 pm

Hi Robert,
Thanks for posting that! I'm sorry I can't give a longer reply right now-I'm super busy with some show stuff coming up (overwhelmed is more like it). Great work and great website!
With love and gratitude,
Joel Laviolette
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Re: Great article from Prof. Andrew Tracey on matepe music

Postby Robert on Sun Feb 22, 2009 4:38 pm

As I couldn't get a hold of matepe, but wanted to play some of the songs transcribed in prof. Tracey's articles, I did end up transposing as best I could some of the songs to mbira dzavadzimu several years ago. From the article, and looking at his description of the setup of the keys, it seems that these transpositions would work best with a nyamaropa tuning... On the matepe, the key setup as far as tone and location seemed to me to be very similar, although there is a lot more overlap of the upper range of the left hand with the lower range of the right hand (the dzavadzimu generally only overlaps the top two keys of the left hand), and of course the upward-plucking index finger of the left hand can add a new line entirely. Therefore these transpositions were completely made for my curiosity and not for any traditional accuracy or orthodoxy, so my apologies if the mere thought of attempting to shoehorn matepe parts onto another instrument doesn't sit well with anyone reading this. However, if you are curious anyways, here are two parts I transposed from the song "Siti" from prof. Tracey's article. I believe he transcribed the same song from two players, Saini Madera, and Saini Murira.

They key notation in numbers is ascending from left to right on all manuals. (Therefore my method is different from similar methods I've seen where the numbers ascend with ascending tone so that the left hand goes right-to-left, which would be opposite from my method).

Image



Image



In general,
1) the notes in parentheses are variations; play these instead of the normal note(s).
2) the notes in small font (but not in parentheses) are optional chords. Play these in addition to the normal note.
3) these are based on versions from two different players, and are not intended as interlocking parts to be played together.

Also, in the Murira part, yes, there is a dissonance at the beginning of the second phrase, and yes, the sixth note of the third phrase (bottom "5") is correct; you can look at the originals in the Tracey article to confirm these.
Last edited by Robert on Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:11 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: Great article from Prof. Andrew Tracey on matepe music

Postby Joel on Sun Feb 22, 2009 4:47 pm

If you are numbering left to right, how many bass keys do you have and how many upper left keys do you have? There are often differences from mbira to mbira.
Thanks for doing this!
Joel
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Re: Great article from Prof. Andrew Tracey on matepe music

Postby Robert on Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:09 pm

Good point. For the left hand, I have:
Upper: 7 keys total
Bottom/bass: 7 keys total (typical nyamaropa tuning, lacks that extra key in between what I'm calling 6 and 7)

I could also redo the numbers on the transcription to read from right-to-left for the left hand, since that seems to be the more common method.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Update:
OK I redid the notation the standard way with the two left hand lines numbered ascending right-to-left; the right hand remains ascending left-to-right:

Image

as before:
1) the notes in parentheses are variations; play these instead of the normal note(s).
2) the notes in small font (but not in parentheses) are optional chords. Play these in addition to the normal note.
3) these are based on versions from two different players, and are not intended as interlocking parts to be played together.

Also, in the Murira part, yes, there is a dissonance at the beginning of the second phrase, and yes, the sixth note of the third phrase (bottom "3") is correct; you can look at the originals in the Tracey article to confirm these.

In the Madera part, it's arranged to simplify the motion between the hands, but actually last two notes of the 1st phrase (R:4/1 then L:6), and the third phrase (R:4/1 then L:5), the left hand top manual (L) is more accurately left blank, substituting either of three keys: B:2 (low octave), or R:1, or R:4. Thus the two notes at the end of the 1st and 3rd phrases could be played: R:4 then R:1 (or R:1 then R:4.... or R:4/1 then B:2), as per your own preference. However even the "simplified" version is good, since it will retain that "octave" sound of the matepe original.

Another update: I fixed the optional chord in the third phrase of the Madera part, it was in the wrong place.
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Re: Great article from Prof. Andrew Tracey on matepe music

Postby bill on Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:09 am

Robert ; good work on the transcribing from matepe to big mbira. I know at least one Zimbabwean ( Sydney Muratu) who has done a bunch of this . I know this because he taught me a few of them. I don't consider it "shoehorning" but "creative adaptation". Good for you.
bill
ps one of the songs was Kari Muchipfuwa,,,,i noticed it in your mp3 stuff
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