THE ART OF MBIRA, musical inheritance and legacy, featuring the repertory and practices of Cosmas Mgaya and associates

: Berliner (P.)

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609pp., paperback, Chicago, 2020


American ethnomusicologist Paul Berliner collaborated with Zimbabwean master mbira player Cosmas Magaya to document the music's repertory and the communities of study, performance, and worship that surround this keyboard instrument. Includes a compendium of mbira compositions.

“A major landmark in ethnomusicology. These books represent decades of systematic and highly focused research by one of the most astute, tenacious, perceptive, respected, and inspiring scholars in the field. There is a wealth of information here, systematically organized and presented, with few precedents in music scholarship.” Eric Charry, Wesleyan University, author of "Mande Music: traditional and modern music of the Maninka and Mandinka of western Africa"

“Stunning. I can think of no other work like it in the history of ethnomusicology, and very few that approach it in contemporary humanistic or musical scholarship. Its contribution transcends the author’s disciplinary affiliations in magisterial ways ... there is no example in the ethnomusicological literature of collaborative research on this level, either. I came away with a concrete understanding of the stunning complexity of the aural texture of mbira music, the playfulness of its performance practices, the seriousness of its pedagogical traditions, and the obviousness of the claim that Magaya is an artist on the level of a Charlie Parker or a Ravi Shankar - one of the world’s great musicians, a living treasure for the Shona people, and someone who has contributed enormously to ethnomusicology through his long collaboration with Berliner ....” Aaron A. Fox, Columbia University. author of "Real Country: music and language in working-class culture"

Paul F. Berliner is the Arts and Sciences Professor Emeritus of Music at Duke University.