chapter  5
28 Pages

Traditional–modern Hybrid Music

Seated on tree trunks under a large mango tree, students are playing marimba , ngoma , and trumpets, the sound of traditional-modern music 2 reverberating well beyond campus. The surface of the trunks is soft from years of wear, while the leafy branches provide some shady relief in this open-air classroom 3 for traditional music. Dressed in a long-sleeved shirt casually worn outside his baggy trousers, mwalimu Matitu walks around amidst the students, beating the rhythm with a long wooden stick. From his tall, lean fi gure and agile movements you would be hard pressed to guess his age, but this Master Musician is soon to retire. Meanwhile, he is passing on his skills to younger generations, as he has done for decades. He does not use written notes, but hums the melody to the students, who pick it up on their instruments. From time to time, he demonstrates on the students’ marimba 4 how the tune is to be played, thus performing the role of a master craftsman tutoring his apprentices, just like he learned to play traditional music when he was young. The students practice over and over again, until they master the melody. A few weeks later, the whole class performs the song for their practical exams on the main stage of the TaSUBa Theater, with their teacher as one of the attentive examiners,

while another examiner captures the student production on a sound recorder.