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date: 12 December 2019

Deza [mbila deza, mbila dza madeza]locked

  • Andrew Tracey


[mbila deza, mbila dza madeza]

Lamellaphone of the Venda of South Africa. It is essentially the same as the better-known mbira dza vadzimu of the Shona of Zimbabwe, with some variation in note layout. The full name, mbila dza madeza, means ‘mbila of calabashes’, referring to the large calabash (see below) in which it is propped for resonance. It has a heavy tray-type body with a little-finger hole in a bottom corner with which to hold the instrument while playing, and about 26 tongues, often broad and spatulate, in two superimposed ranks, covering more than three octaves in a heptatonic tuning. The two lower octaves are the domain of the left thumb; the upper range is played by right thumb and, plucking upwards, the right index finger. Instruments with bass and treble sides reversed are also found. The deza is the particular instrument of the Lemba sub-group of the Venda. Its repertoire includes several sacred songs identical to those played on the Shona ...

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