New Music for Thumb Piano

Nearly ubiquitous in sub-Saharan Africa, the thumb piano (also known as mbira, kalimba, sanza, and other regional names) has both a musical and spiritual legacy. We’ll hear contemporary extensions of that tradition on this New Sounds program, including selections from the Congotronics project, where homemade amplification distorts the thumb piano sound so that it has an entirely different texture, and is then accompanied by wickedly insistent percussive groove. Also, listen to Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche’s latest release "Mobile," which has him performing on the thumb piano for his solo drum kit compositions. (If you're in New York City, don’t forget to see him LIVE on Sunday June 4th at the World Financial Center - Winter Garden atrium as part of the Bang on a Can Marathon. Admission is free. More info at Plus, there’s music by Ugandan-born New Yorker Samite, the late Camerounian writer/composer/musician Francis Bebey, and more.

PROGRAM # 2552, New Music for Thumb Piano (First aired on Fri. 5/26/06)






Shona Mbira Music

Nhemamusasa, excerpt [1:30]

Nonesuch Explorer #79710**

Francis Bebey


Akwaaba [5:30]

Original Music #105 Out of print, but check*

Francis Bebey

Nandolo / With Love

Rwanda [6:00]

Original Music #027 Out of print, but check*

Konono No. 1


Paradiso [7:30]

Crammed Discs #27 ** *



Setula [6:30]

Triloka/Artemis #82071** *

Glen Velez

Seven Heaven

Ramana [6:30]

CMP#30 Out of print, but try his site

Glenn Kotche


Fantasy On A Shona Theme [4:00]

Nonesuch #79927 **


Shona Mbira Music

Dande [4:00]

See above.

Egberto Gismonti

Sol Do Meio Dia

Kalimba [5:00]

ECM #1116 **

*, ** - Find the recordings you've heard - go to the New Sounds Recordings Information page