New Music for Thumb Piano


The thumb piano (or mbira, kalimba, sanza, likembe), consists of a wooden board with attached staggered metal keys, and is widely heard throughout the Eastern and Southern African continent.  However, for this New Sounds, listen to music from Europe, North and South America, as well, using various forms of the African thumb piano.  To start, there’s music from Zimbabwe's Queen of Mbira, Stella Chiweshe, a trailblazer who learned her craft in the mid-late 1960's when it was forbidden for a woman to play the instrument.  Then, hear music by Nathan Davis which is inspired by the function of mbira music in the life rituals of the Shona people of Zimbabwe.

Listen to music from Chris Berry, an American who lived in Zimbabwe for eight years, studying the mbira.  Plus, folktronica from the Argentine producer and musician Gaby Kerpel which uses mbira samples in addition to those of South American instruments.  There’s also music featuring thumb piano from the Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger, and the Norwegian Karl Seglem.  And much more.

PROGRAM # 3473, Music for Thumb Piano  (First aired on 5/29/2013)                                                 





Chris Berry

King of Me

Mudzimu We [3:48]

KSK Records
Due out June 11, 2013

Stella Chiweshe


Mugomba [3:05]

Shanachie 65006, out of print, but try the “Best of Stella Chiweshe” through  OR try Amazon’s other sellers,*

Doug Perkins

Simple Songs of Birth and Return

Nathan Davis: a Tale Begun [3:24]

FCR 126

Karl Seglem



Mårblå [7:55]

Ozella 034

Gaby Kerpel


Toritos [4:25]

Nonesuch #79684

Konono No. 1

Congotronics, Vol. 1

Paradiso [7:03]

Crammed Discs #27

Andrew Bird vs Konono No. 1 & Sobanza Mimanisa

Tradi Mods vs. Rockers

Ohnono-Kiwembo [5:59]

Crammed 169

Ernst Reijseger, feat. Mola Sylla

Down Deep

Ana [8:54]

Winter & Winter 910 197 OR

Doug Perkins

Simple Songs of Birth and Return


Nathan Davis: Two Shadows, excerpt [3:21]

FCR 126