Musango Marimba Center Musango Marimba Home

The Music

The joyful and energetic music produced by a marimba ensemble is rooted in the music of Zimbabwe and southern Africa. The characteristic repeating patterns produce melodies and rhythms that are both emotionally evocative and fun to play.

The Instruments

Marimba are large wooden xylophone-like instruments, made with hardwood keys and mounted above resonator tubes to amplify the sound. They are played in an ensemble of instruments ranging from soprano to bass, and are often accompanied by singing, drums and gourd shakers called hosho.

The Music

The joyful and energetic music produced by a marimba ensemble is rooted in the music of Zimbabwe and southern Africa. The charac

teristic repeating patterns produce melodies and rhythms that are both emotionally evocative and fun to play. The study of this unique style of music offers many benefits, in

cluding a strong focus on rhythm, listening skills, and ensemble playing. The basics are easy to learn as the keys are large and are played with one mallet in each hand. Once basic patterns

are learned, they can be embellished to create the interlocking rhythms and melodies which make this music fun to play, and fun to listen to. As they study the music, students gain awareness of a culture and people on the other side of the globe.

Some pieces played on marimba are based on mbira,  a very ancient instrument of the Shona people. It is composed of a hand-held wooden sound board with metal keys attached, and is played inside a large calabash gourd for amplification. Mbira music has a long history of use in traditional ceremonies, and in recent history it has come to be played for entertainment as well. Many traditional pieces have been arranged for marimba and other instruments. The rhythms tend to be complex and challenging, and the feel of the songs ranges from mournful or meditative, to upbeat and exuberant.