Traditional music concerts a hit

Luzuko Pongoma

Luzuko Pongoma

Top local musicians were behind sell-out concerts last week in Johannesburg aimed at showcasing traditional music.

The 10Ancestral Grooves shows from Tuesday to Saturday on Market Square, Sandton, were designed to highlight traditional instruments and music - part of a determined bid to save them from extinction.

"Our intention with this production is to produce a popular and marketable brand of music that works to preserve and promote indigenous African heritage," said Mzantsi Traditional Orchestra chairman Gobingca Mxadana.

Renowned musician and composer Pops Mahomed said Western countries were becoming interested in African music and that it was time to make local music with local instruments.

The 10-person orchestra was trained for three months. Members were rotated to allow a larger number of students to master the instruments.

The instruments included the umakhweyana, a percussion bow that uses a calabash as a soundbox, traditionally played by amaZulu maidens before they get married; the kudu horn, used by Tsonga people to call people from distant villages to meetings; and wind pipes, made from reeds tuned to different notes, traditionally played by Basotho and Bapedi musicians.

The musicians also played the ixilongo, a plain pipe blown at various angles to produce different sounds, and the penny whistle.

Khoisan instruments, such as the umrhube, a bow that uses the mouth as a resonator, and the uhadi, a bow with a calabash resonator, were played.