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Ngodo xylophone orchestral dance

Various Artists
Ngodo xylophone orchestral dance
Chopi music, an important artistic tradition of southern Africa, is famous for its timbila xylophone orchestras, which typically accompany spectacular dance-suites (ngodo). Each xylophone consists of wooden slats fitted into a frame, with each slat attached to a resonator below it. Ideally, an orchestra contains xylophones in five sizes, together covering a range of about four octaves. Each orchestra takes the name of the chief who sponsors it. Its leader may compose much of its music, which may include lyrics on topical subjects.

A dance-suite consists of several movements, each accompanying a specific dance, done by men holding shields and positioned in a long line. A dance-suite can last nearly an hour. Rattle players stand and move in front of the xylophones, facing the dancers. Hugh Tracey recorded these pieces in the Zavala District of Mozambique in 1955 (Tracey 1973).