The stage at the end of the concert. Cabocha on left playing the various drums, Cheny on the sofa with the Timbila, Zito to far right on drums and Nene behind the two lady singers, Thobile Mcincinini and Bongiwe Dlamini.

The TIMBILA is a musical instrument in Mozambique, like a Xylophone. It is traditionally associated with the Chopi people from the Inhambane Region in Southern Mozambique. The instrument should not be confused to the Mbira, a handheld instrument that is believed to have originated in Indonesia. The Timbila has up to nineteen keys, and up to eight may be played simultaneously. Sound amplification is managed by using resonators made from the spherical hard shells of the Masala Apple, one mounted under each key. The tuning of any key is achieved through first roasting the wood around a fire and then shaping the key to achieve the desired tone. But for us ignorant people it is a traditional type of a Xylophone in Mozambique.

There are various famous players of the Timbila in Mozambican culture and it has amazed me how many know how to play it since it seems actually quite complicated. The Timbila band that I most admire (since I am not a traditionalist) is a funky amplified band with its leader Cheny Wa Gune. The band goes normally I think by the name Wa Gune Quarteto. The band comprises Cheny himself playing the Timbila, Nene playing the electric bass, Zito running a very tight rhythm on drums and Cabocha on various African drums. They have managed to package some very simple tunes with strong rhythm with the pure Mozambican flavor. Marrabenta music up to various funky rock tones.

Last Friday the 1st of April they launched their first CD, but they have been playing together for a long time as can be clearly heard when they play. I asked Cheny about a year ago about availability of his music for me and he responded that there is no use publishing CD’s since the music is immediately ripped and sold as bootleg on the streets. They have to gain their income from life performances. This is the common situation for artists here in Africa and is strange in the perspective of the Intellectual Property giants like Sony and family. But now there is a disk available, I am obtaining a copy and hopefully you can also buy the music soon on the web. There are available on Youtube a few videos for those interested, this one playing typical Marrabenta, very bad quality but informative, and this one where they are playing one of their more popular songs Jinji Jinji.

The band has now played widely in Europe, South America and in Africa. I propose to you to be on the look out for these fantastic musicians.

Here are photo albums from their performances that I have made. From 1st April in Franco, and From Rua des Artes last year.

Cheny playing the Mbira here, Nene Bass funking in the background


April 3, 2011  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: MOZAMBIQUE, MUSIC