Ivonne Galatea review - Fungai Gahadzikwa Mbira Song Book 1
"This book provides a clear and fresh doorway to a musical culture. I imagine it staying on my music stand for some time to come.
The style of presentation is new (mostly new, as I have already met Andy Fowler’s other books) and this resource held surprises for me even after having spent over thirty years studying the subject. The walk-through exercises for pulse in particular I wish I’d had back when I was first struggling.
The section on harmonic patterns led me to revisit pieces I was familiar with, checking them against things that the book conveys explicitly. I have found myself correcting errors of phrasing and “pulse” that had crept into my playing, and the general presentation of songs has encouraged me to revisit pieces I haven’t played for a while. I can imagine further reacquainting myself with the mbira (I have not for a while played it a lot, having done more exploratory music on kalimbas and so forth) and feel led back to the reason why I fell in love with its music in the first place.
I would recommend this book wholeheartedly and without reserve. It will interest people who are looking for a repository of the great mbira tunes, to be called upon as a kind of reference.
The problem of transcription of mbira music has hampered the self-taught player. A lot of us fell in love with the music from recordings, acquired an instrument, and then had nowhere to turn. While nothing can substitute for a teacher, a lot of people don’t have this option. I have bought all the transcriptions available, but they are not as good a foundational as this. I found the Tracey book format difficult with its strange double octave notation too hard to read. I bought Williams’ transcriptions, but they went left to right, and I found that harder to read than Paul Berliner’s notation (which really shows the patterns at the heart of this music). By using his graphic design skills to build on the Berliner transcription system, Andy has created a wonderful new resource for mbira players. This now provides a first place to learn. It introduces theory and tablature and provides a guide to the problems of the pulse and of phrasing. I hope there are more volumes to come."
Ivodne Galatea of Perth, Western Australia is a prolific composer of music heavily influenced by mbira literature. Arranger and solitary performer of the great cycle of mbira music for Hohner Guitaret and Pianet, and for baritone ukulele.
J.D. Golay review - Fungai Gahadzikwa Mbira Song Book 1
"I wish that this songbook existed when I started playing mbira! This is, without question, the most thoughtfully put together book of mbira music that I’ve come across. It includes tabs of kushaura and kutsinhira parts for 8 well-known traditional mbira pieces, as well as one original composition of Fungai’s. Each piece includes many variations, and several of the pieces include “beginner” and “full” versions of the parts to help new players get started. In general the variations presented here vary widely in terms of difficulty to play so that beginners and seasoned players alike will benefit from this collection.
In addition to the tablature, the book also contains information on the location of the downbeat or ‘pulse’ of each piece as well as exercises in polyrhythm and discussions about chord structure and timing of chord changes. I have found these in-depth discussions of rhythm, timing and chords to be sorely lacking in other tablature collections. Especially for the beginner these insights are very valuable as a starting point for understanding and feeling the complex rhythms of mbira music."
Jim Pugliese review - Fungai Gahadzikwa Mbira Song Book 1
"Clear and Concise, Fungai’s mbira song book goes deep into the workings of mbira songs. From beginners to advanced players, this book allows one to visualize and internalize phrasing, chords and improvisation. The best part about the song book is the fact that the student is encouraged to eventually let go of the tablature and play the song. This is one of the most important aspects of learning this traditional music via tablature rather than from a true mbira master. That being said Andy Fowler’s tablature system has been well thought out and is simple and natural to learn. I recommend this book highly for anyone studying Mbira."
Jim Pugliese of New York City is a freelance percussionist and composer who has has recorded on over 100 albums! Check out his inspiring work and current projects at www.jimpugliese.org.
Mich Schwarz review - Fungai Gahadzikwa Mbira Song Book 1
"Fungai Gahadzikwa - Mbira Song Book 1, produced by Andy Fowler is a wonderful, informative and inspiring book!
The first chapter provides clarification on mbira tablature, and by means of very well-structured exercises conveys the basic rhythms of this traditional music.
The notation is very clear and easy to follow, with underlying beats, entry and transition points unmistakably marked. Such clear instructions permit a self-taught musician to learn the many songs and variations, which are introduced in the second chapter, as well as to perceive the variations in their proper musical context. I am very happy to learn from Fungai Gahadzikwa with the help of this book!
The third chapter is a consolidated introduction to the chords and progressions of mbira music. Andy has already devoted a separate book to this entire subject (Unlocking Mbira).
In the fourth chapter you will find an analysis of the songs and variations which were introduced in the second chapter. With the help of chords and progression, the possibility for further variations are demonstrated, which consequently leads to improvisation.
In my hometown, Vienna, there is no mbira player. My teacher, Sebastian Pott, lives in Germany. Since driving to him takes eight hours, unfortunately I cannot afford to visit him regularly. This book will help me therefore to bridge the gap in continuity of my mbira education. It will also become my valuable travel companion!
Mbira is a spiritual instrument. I am fully aware that mbira music is not traditionally conveyed through notation and books. Therefore I am thankful to the musicians like Fungai Gahadzikwa for their willingness to teach this wonderful music outside of their spiritual motherland and outside of the traditional context! The sound of Mbira is full of soul and it teaches one to listen!"
Micha Schwarz - Mbira Beginner - Vienna, Austria
Dr. Samuel Gould review - Fungai Gahadzikwa Mbira Song Book 1
"This resource will be invaluable to mbira players of all levels. Everyone who studies it will benefit from the accessible musical analysis presented. Beginners will benefit from the logical progression of information and experienced players will learn Fungai’s approach to core songs in the mbira repertoire as well as one of Fungai’s own compositions.
Moving forward, this book will inspire me to break out of purely learning song variations and rather starting to think of mbira playing in a way that is similar to how a jazz musician improvises on the chord changes of a song, but within the musical vocabulary of this great music. Innovative, accessible, valuable, I strongly recommend it!"
Simme Bobrosky review - Fungai Gahadzikwa Mbira Song Book 1
Steve Butcher review - Fungai Gahadzikwa Mbira Song Book 1
"This is a wonderful book, suitable for anyone interested in mbira. It is beautifully laid out and clearly explains some complex processes in both linguistic and visual terms. Also, the later sections give a real insight into a mbira master's working process. I'm very impressed.
Variations are included for beginners and more advanced players. New exercises are clearly explained and help to unlock the complexity of this music. My overall impression is that this book contains greater detail into the processes of playing mbira than I have seen elsewhere. Thank you!"
Stephen Spitalny review - Fungai Gahadzikwa Mbira Song Book 1
"Thorough, accessible and helpful, this is an excellent book. The structure is easy to use and sensible, leading the reader from an interesting introduction to Fungai and the instrument, to songs and variations of increasing complexity in an organic way. The section on "chord" patterns is fascinating and super useful. I've since been inspired to play more, alone and along with other mbira players, both on mbira and guitar! Anyone wanting to deepen their relationship with the instrument will enjoy this book, and will find something useful for their own playing and understanding of traditional mbira music. Heartily recommended!"