Publication Date

5-2018

Advisor(s)

Eric Charry; Kate Galloway; Claire Jones

Department

Music

Abstract

This thesis explores the current performance practices of Zimbabwean marimba ensembles. I investigate the role of improvisation and the current state of marimba performance practice in Zimbabwe and the USA, how this practice is affected by participation in competitions and festivals, and how Zimbabwean and American marimba ensembles, in turn, influence other marimba ensembles around the world. Previous research on the Zimbabwean marimba traces the development of the instrument from its pedagogical role in the primary and secondary schools in Zimbabwe to playing a key role in professional music ensembles, and also its exodus from Zimbabwe to the United States through the work of Dumisani Abraham Maraire. This thesis begins to address critical gaps concerning both marimba improvisation and the influence of fast growing festivals that have spurred the change that is evident in current performance practices. I illustrate these ideas using two case studies, Winad Musicology (Zimbabwe) and Kutandara Center (USA), tracing their participation in festivals such as the National Institute of Allied Arts (Zimbabwe), the International Marimba and Steelpan Festival (South Africa), Iguazú en Concierto (Argentina), Zimbabwe Music Festival (USA), and Nhemamusasa North (Canada). Findings from the research show that improvisation is, indeed, an integral part of performance in marimba ensemble, and that there is a growing emphasis on the visual aspect of performances in ensembles.

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