Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Oliver Mtukudzi -Seiko Mwari

This fellow just died last week, so let's get that out of the way. He was massively popular in Zimbabwe, for reasons musical, cultural, political, and spiritual. He's a great guitar player and singer. 

I rarely make a science of anything, so I'd never heard of him before. I've been listening to African music since the 1970s though. I play the guitar myself, so I've been particularly interested in the African guitar players. Nigerian Highlife music is very guitar-driven, and the musicians of Mali took to the guitar with such passion that guitar based music became part of the bedrock of Malian culture. In the manner of such things, the African guitarists sound African, almost all of them. 

I have said many times that all music is theft, but that's probably just for effect. What is really true is that all music draws on everything that the new player has ever heard. From the wildlife, to the urban noise, to the traditional instruments, everything. When you listen to African guitar players like Mr. Mtukudzi here, you can hear echos of thumb pianos and other traditional African instruments, and local rhythm patterns that have existed for hundreds of years. We all pick up an instrument and look for sounds that we know. It's all pretty fascinating. 

This fellow's music has great merit. I have to put up a Post-It note to remind myself to listen to more of it. 

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