Episode #3340

Music For Opposable Thumbs

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

The thumb piano, which in Zimbabwe, is called “mbira,” in Uganda, “kalimba,” in the Congo, “likembe,” – is an instrument made of a wooden board to which staggered metal keys have been attached.  We’ll have an hour of music involving the thumb piano for this New Sounds program, from a gentle song by Arthur Russell, interpreted by Jens Lekman to the Kronos Quartet, to the psychedelic electronic music in the Congotronics series of records.  

PROGRAM #3340, Music for Opposable Thumbs (First aired on 5/17/2012)                                                           





Various Artists: Erick Muchena

Nonesuch Explorer Series: The Soul of Mbira, Traditions of the Shona People

Taireva [4:04]

Nonesuch Explorer #79704**

Francis Bebey


Akwaaba (“Welcome”) [5:48]

Original Music #105
Out of print, but check*

Mbira DzeNharira

Rough Guide: African Roots Revival


Tozvireva Tingaputike Neshungu [8:03]

World Music Network RGNET1269  Info about the band:

Thomas Mapfumo

Chimurenga Forever (Best of)

Hanzvadzi (Sister) [5:40]

EMI / Hemisphere #35582

Konono No. 1


Paradiso [6:48]

Crammed CRAW 27

Various Artists: Andrew Bird Vs Konono N°1 & Sobanza Mimanisa  

Tradi-Mods vs Rockers: Alternative Takes On Congotronics

Ohnono-Kiwembo [5:59]

Crammed CRAM 169

Jens Lekman  

Four Songs by Arthur Russell

A Little Lost [3:32]

Rough Trade Records
Digital only release. 
Available at

Kronos Quartet with Dumisani Maraire

Pieces of Africa

Kutambarara ('Spreading'), excerpt  [3:14]

Nonesuch #79275**


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Comments [1]

Donald Sepanek from Bayonne, NJ

Congotronics is one of my favorite CD's of all time-you just can't beat it! And thanks for the lesson on thumb piano scales and tuning system-very informative!

May. 18 2012 04:08 PM

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