Hugh Tracey

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music archive music files by Hugh Tracey and other audio resources

mulonga - the loop audio file archive


1952 - 1957


International Library of African Music ( ILAM, ZA)

Sound of Africa Series TR41 - 46 1957 Valley Tonga recordings by Hugh Tracey with some of his comments from the ILAM catalogue and a few additions from Keith Goddard

Before we start

Hugh Tracey actually visited the Zambian side of the Zambezi River where the Zambezi Valley is called the Gwembe Valley but since the river provided no physical barrier or border to the Tonga at this time, the different name is of little significance.

Gumina TR41 - 1    A counting jingle - one to ten.

The extended fingers of each hand are marked off to accompany the words by closing each in turn, starting with the little finger of the left had, then the same of the right, ending by clapping the hands together.

Tracey notes that "Whilst this was beng recorded, a group of small girls discovered that they could use the hub caps and bumper of the car as a mirror and, after admiring themselves, began to dance to their reflections."

high - band >>tr41_1_gumina.mp3

0,10 min 0,2 MB


Nabutema fulida mvlito TR41 - 2    Widow, blow up the fire

Love song with kalumbo one-stringed, braced, gourd-resonated bow with mirliton 

played by Anriosi Kaniamba.

The title is not to be taken literally. Clearly it means, blow on the fire until it is properly alight. 

The kalumbo bow still exists in the area although, like all the other gourd and mouth bows in Zimbabwe, it has become a rarity.

high - band >> tr41_2_nabutema.mp3

2,12 min 2,0 MB


Tomujayi TR41 -14 Don´t kill anyone, my brother´s son

Morality song with kankowela mbira, fan-shaped with external resonator.

played by Siambelele Nyama

"If you kill someone, you will go to prison at Gwembe. They will bring ropes to tie your hands and feet. What has tempted you to kill people? You must think of what I´m telling you now."

The mbira might be described as the national instrument of Zimbabwe. There are four well-known varieties including the mbira dzaVadzimu and the kalimba which Hugh Tracey made famous in the United States. The Tonga kankobela (there was no Tonga orthography at this time which explains his 'w') is about the size of a kalimba and is probably related to it. I once met an old Kankobela player in Zambia who could play still play his horn music on his mbira and even named the keys of the nyele after the horns.

These warning songs are an important feature of Tonga music. Much of the music acts like a newspaper with breaking news about scandals which everyone gets to hear about.

high - band >> tr41_14_tomujayi.mp3

2,54 min 2,6 MB


That One is my friend

Grinding songs accompanied by the sound of the grindstone

by Masaria and other Tonga women

These songs were taken during the actual grinding of millet into mealie outside a hut. The millet was a fine brown variety known as Munga in Rhodesia. These small work songs are sometimes well known by everyone in the village and commonly used by the women as they grind their corn on the stone outside their hut, or they are individual compositions without a name and with a few words to the lyrics.

Today, Tracey may seem rather old fashioned to us in many ways but one of the important positive features of his recording style was that he always made sure that he gave credit to the musicians whom he recorded by mentioning their names in the sleeve notes he wrote. 

high - band >> tr42_5_mumabale.mp3

1,13 min 1,1 MB


Ndime mukabaryibaryi basankwa TR42 - 6  All the young men like me

Another grinding song with sound of pestle and mortar

by 2 Tonga women and 2 young girls.

The bracelet on the wrist of one of the women pounding can be clearly hear in this recording.

high - band >> tr42_6_ndime.mp3

1,16 min 1,1 MB


Shembe yasenzana ulibama TR42 - 9 If you don't love me send me back to my mother

by the same 2 Tonga women and 2 young girls as above.

high - band >> tr42_9_shembe.mp3

1,10 min 1,0 MB


Walianzi sunu Gengere TR43 - 4  What did you eat Gengere?

Bugande drinking song with 1 muntundu drum

by a Group of Tonga men

This group of Tonga men recorded four songs with Hugh Tracey. Tracey was puzzled by the fact that a seemingly identical drum was referred to as gayanda in one context and musuntu in another. These days it is clear to us that it is the context that counts and that the name of a drum can change when it is is performing a different ´function.

high - band >> tr43_4_walianzi.mp3

2,32 min 2,4 MB


Ndwimo lwa mutetere TR43 -11 Flute tune

Walking song with mutetere transverse flute

played by Mwami Sienfwala Mukuli

The flute was 6 3/4 inches long and was made of the section of an old bicycle pump

This flute tune tells us that there was at least some modern technology in the valley. Nobody bothers with bicycle pumps unless there are bicycle tyres on bicycles which need them. 

high - band >> tr43_11_ndwimo.mp3

1,37 min 1,5 MB


Ulawika TR43 - 12 Riddles

by Four Tonga men

Towards the end of the recording, Mwani of Sinefwala leaned forward and said over the shoulders of the other men "These are the riddles of my country." It is clear from the recording that the rest of the villagers enjoyed it very much.

There are hundreds of  Tonga riddles. One of my favourites is "Grandmother writes with the soles of her feet." The explanation is that old people cannot read and write but they still make squiggly lines in the sandy soil just as younger people make squiggles on paper which are called writing. 

high - band >> tr43_12_ulawika.mp3

5,02 min -,- MB


Nyele Horns TR43 - 14  Horns

Horn ensemble with set of 17 Nyele antelope end-blown horns

played by 17 Tonga men

An experimental recording of the Nyele horns to demonstrate their tuning, the order of their appearance and general scheme of melody. They are commonly played with drums and not by themselves alone and are employed upon various ceremonial occasions such as funerals and large gatherings. They vary in size from aboout 5 inches to 18 inches and are taken from a vareity of antelope.

Although he had been in the field of African music for nearly 30 years (he first came to Zimbabwe in 1920 and made his first recordings in 1929), he had never before come across music like the nyele of the ngoma buntibe and he was deeply puzzled by it. Through this experimental recording, he hoped to be able to understand better how the music was structured. He did not manage but he did notice correctly that there is a certain order of entry for each horn.

Tracey wrote down the names of the horns from the smallest to the largest. Some of these names are still recogniseable today.

high - band >> tr43_14_nyele_horns.mp3

1,33 min 1,4 MB


Mobai TR45 - 3

Masabe dances with 2 drums, hand beaten, pegged, 1 goblet, 1 cylindrical

By a group of Tonga women

This seems to be one of the Masabe dances for both men and women - connected with the worship or propitiation of souls or spirits called Masabe. The difference between the two does not appear to be clear cut but the Tonga recognise a number of spiritual entitites which are connected with their respective Sabe dance.

The drummers first went away, gathered some swathes of grass in order to make a fire to heat drum membranes before playing and bring them up to pitch. The wooden pegs were also hammered firmly into place to increase the tension on the drum heads.

high - band >> tr45_3_mobai.mp3

3,05 min 2,9 MB


Ngoma II TR45 - 6  3 Ngoma dances

Ngoma dances with Nyele end-blown antelope horns and set of Ngoma drums.

by a group of Tonga women

The tuning of the horns seems to be entirely haphazard and is controlled by the fortuitous length and shape of the horns employed. The smaller boys played the shorter horns and the larger boys the longer horns. The bass horns needing more breath to blow.

This is a very wild kind of dance, with everyone dancing madly in a mob. The step is a short staccato, jigging step to and fro, very simple. Noise seems to be the main object and the dust thrown up by their feet in the alluvial soil of the river valley almost obscured the tight knot of dancers. The celeste caused by the treble pipes id deafening to an observer, but too high pitched to record.

The names of the 7 drums from small to large were 1. Gogogo 2. Kingaridi 3. Chamutanda 4. Muntanda 5. Mujinji 6. Pininga 7. Pati

The first four are played with sticks and the three others with hands. They are all the same basic shape being an almost square cut rectangular cylinder for a body and a hollow pipe of wood without a foot for a base. They are all slung across the shoulder or held between the thighs for playing.

Tracey's first impressions of Tonga nyele being pure noise are understandable. For people not familiar with the music, it can sound strangely chaotic, almost avant garde in the western sense. In fact, the horns are carefully tuned to exact pitches by cutting away the open end of the horn and fine tuning the instrument with bees wax. 

The amount of breath needed to make a nyele horn sound is tremendous and players often look a bit drunk because they start to hyperventilate when playing. Although the beer may also have something to do with this!

high - band >> tr45_6_ngomaII.mp3

2,52 min 2,6 MB


Ngoma III TR45 - 7

See notes to the above track

high - band >> tr45_6_ngomaIII.mp3

3,22 min 3,0 MB


Lwendenda minfanda mukainty Mulongo TR45 - 10  I love a Woman called Mulongo

Bugogo party dances with sticks and 1 small Gogogo drum beaten by hands.

by a group of Tonga women led by Joseph Munyeme

Mugogo is the name of the smaller drum. 

"Lwendenda mintanda mukaintu Mulongo, maweli, maweli." I love a woman called Mulongo and because I travel so much I never have time to see her.

The playing of stick rhythms is a speciality of the Tonga. A number of men, in this case three, take a short stick each apiece, and taps out a simple rhythm which fits into the rhythms tapped by the others. The result is a complex syncopation most difficult to analyse. The sticks may be tapped on any convenient object, such as a log of wood- in this case on the body of a drum which was not being used for this dance.

One of the difficulties Tracey had in describing the music he was hearing was vocabulary. The sophisticated langauge available today for describing non-western musics was simply not around. Nowadays, instead of talking about syncopation (which is more appropriate for describing jazz), we would say interlocking patterns or rhythms. The individual patterns themselves are normally relatively simple but when combined they produce a complex of kaleidoscopic sound which is immediately recogniseable as African. The nearest one might get to this in western music is probably change ringing.

high - band >> tr45_10_mulongo.mp3

4,04 min 3,7 MB


Effects TR45 -11 Women smoking a "hubble-bubble" pipe

Effects with Ndombondo pipe

These pipes are made of calabashes with stems. In the bowl of the calabash a wooden or clay pipe bowl is inserted which contains charcoal and tobacco. The bowl of the calabash is half filled with water. Only women do this [smoke the bubble pipes]; the men prefer to smoke without water.

It is still true that only the women smoke the bubble pipes and it is still very much of a feature of Tonga life. The myth that the bubble pipes are filled with marijuana is, unfotunately for some, entirely without foundation. 

high - band >> tr45_11_effects.mp3

1,34 min 1,5 MB


E-we-we-we babule, TR45 - 12 Carrying the child

Chiyemba party dances for men and women with 2 goblet and 1 cylindrical drum, hand beaten and 1 kayanda tin rattle.

H.G. Habanyama and group of Tonga men

The leader Habanyama, who also played one of the drums, was Chief Councillor to the Gwembe Native Authorities Board and an official at the Treasury.

The dance song is based uponn a woman's song for carrying her baby on her back. The song is made up as the dance proceeds with not set words except the refrain "E-we-we-we babule", so the singer maintained.

high - band >> tr45_12_babule.mp3

3,01 min 0,7 MB


Ndaboola oko TR45 - 13

H.G. Habanyama and group of Tonga men

" I am lonely. I wish you fcould come and help me - who shall sing me my mother's song before I die - I am ashamed because there is nobody who will my mother's song."

high - band >> tr45_13_ndaboola_oko.mp3

3,25 min 3,1 MB


Yakonyomba TR46 -2  

Self-delectative songs with Chikorekore loose-note xylophone x 4 notes, pot-resonated

by Timoti Sadimbi

The notes of the xylophone were roughly hewn pieces of wood laid across the thights and played by means of sticks. In this case, the player stood behind the back of the young man on whose thighs the notes were played and beat the notes bending forward over his shoulders. The man acting as xylophone stand sat on a stool with his feet on another stool. Beneath his thighs was a large pot used as a simple external resonator. The instrument is played out in the fields when preparing the winter gardens in May. Once the gardens are planted, the xylophone notes are discarded and used as fire wood, new ones beiing cut each year.

The position of the loose notes was changed with each change of tune to facilitate the playing of the item.

high - band >> tr46_2_yakonyomba.mp3

0,43 min 1,1 MB


Kujeya shiankori umparuti TR46 - 5

high - band >> tr46_5_kujeya.mp3

1,19 min 1,1 MB


Sigorira TR46 -6

high - band >> tr46_6_sigorira.mp3

2,40 min 2,4 MB


Kawala milonga kalila kate TR46 -7

high - band >> tr46_7_kawala.mp3

2,42 min 2,4 MB



1997 - 2002


by Siankwede Bokotela Mudenda

high - band >> kanamu.mp3 ______9.7 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/kanamu_low.mp3 ______1.86 MB

10.38 min, Simonga/Ngoma Buntibe, recorded and overdubed at Kapu/Linz/Austria, August 1997, by Klaus Schmid on 12-Tracks TDAT, mixed by Klaus Hollinetz at CCP Studio/Linz/Austria


Kwakacala dangalanga Tom ulakaka milandu

They are left with Tom who doesn´t agree whenever he does something wrong


This song is called Kanamu / it says there is a person / This person is called Tom Dadani / This person was a wizard / he killed Chuka with witchraft / (As you know, Africans use witchcraft) / He gave him medicine while they were drinking beer / Chuka drank the beer and died / The composer, Siankwede, heard rumours / People saying Tom is the very person who killed Chuka / So, Sianwede composed this song / saying that Tom is a wizard / He eas making it clear to everyone / that they are not to stay around Tom because he kills people.


Munyama (Anteater)

by Siantende Gideon Muzamba

high-band >> munyama.mp3 ______12.6 MB

low-fi >> low_fi/munyama_low.mp3 ______2.43 MB

13.53 min, Simonga/Ngoma Buntibe, recorded at Elmsee/Totes Gebirge/Austria, August 1997, by Artis Studio ( Thomas Lang, Hilmar Unterrainer) on DAT with a Schoeps KFM 6


Munyama utenaa - awa uyenda mansiku geko uzofwa, temilandu.

The animal which moves at night


This song mentions witchcraft agaib/ It says a person called Machonisa who rides an anteater at night / during which time he is using witchcrahe that was captured at another home / There was the composer called Siantende who was singing this song saying you should not buy anteaters; you have to by cows (which will help you and your family)/ End of the story.



high-band >> munyama_II.mp3 ______13 MB

low -fi >> low_fi/munyama_II_low.mp3 ______2.5 MB

14.17 min Simonga/Ngoma Buntibe, recorded at Elmsee/Totes Gebirge/Austria, August 1997, by Sunnseitn ( Horst Mayrhofer) on DAT with a AKG C 522



by Siankwede Bokotela Mudenda

high-band >> siamubbula.mp3 ______3.6 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/siamubbula_low.mp3 ______0.70 MB

4.00 min Simonga/Ngoma Buntibe, recorded in Siachilaba/Zimbabwe, March 1997, by Bert Estl with a MiniDisc Walkman


Muyanda ningangula nimutitulalima

What do you want here in this area?


Another song talks of Siamubbula / This man killed Siejenga at Hwange / Now Siejenga died / Siankwede, the composer takes this oportunity to point out that Siamubbula was the very person who killed Siejenga / So Siankwede sang a song / As Siankwede doesn´t want anyone to kill other people he composed a song to assure that other people in the village and the wider comunity know what happened / End of the song



high-band >> simoloka.mp3 ______2.5 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/simoloka_low.mp3 ______0.48 MB

2.45 min Simonga/Dilwe, recorded at Elmsee/Totes Gebirge/Austria, August 1997, by Sunnseitn ( Horst Mayrhofer) on DAT with a AKG C 522

CD produced by "Stadtwerkstatt" and "Sunnseitn" for the project "Tonga Expedition Totes Gebirge" (Georg Ritter)




high-band >> composer.mp3 ______3.4 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/composer_low.mp3 ______0.68 MB

description: North-Zimbabwe in the rural areas near the Siachilaba Business center. A Composer of Ngoma Buntibe Music, Siankwede reflects the performance of six pieces of western composers as a reaction on the Tonga music. The recordings were made 1997 for the documentary film Exit Only including the Tonga music (by Michael Pilz and Thomas Schneider). Siankwede died in the meantime and nobody knows exactly how old he got. Till the very end of his life, the old and respected man interpreted his dreams for the Ngoma Buntibe music. The stories of the songs are stories about the daily life in the village, about tragedies and festivities and has also the function of a social barometer of the local comunity.

file info MPEG 1.0 layer 3 audio stream data, 128 kBit/s, 44.1 kHz, jstereo file size 3.41 MB




high -band >> beerhall.mp3 ______2.2 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/beerhall_low.mp3 ______0.42 MB

description The people of Siachilaba siting in front of the local business center and beer hall. They are waiting for the Performance of the - Ngoma Buntibe - by Simonga.

file info MPEG 1.0 layer 3 audio stream data, 128 kBit/s, 44.1 kHz, jstereo



high-band >> tongavoice.mp3 ______7.8 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/tongavoice_low.mp3 ______1.50 MB

description Jossam Mwinge a generator and a cock. Jossam Mwinge (25) speaks about Tonga Culture, the Internet and how his generation will use it.

file info MPEG 1.0 layer 3 audio stream data, 128 kBit/s, 44.1 kHz, jstereo



high-band >> gudza.mp3 ______3.3 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/gudza.low.mp3 ______0.63 MB

description Siachilaba/North-Zimbabwe. The Blue Van. Eliada Gudza talks about building bridges over cultural gaps. In the Background you hear Simonga performing the Ngoma Buntibe, traditional Tonga music. Eliada Gudza works for World Link Program - a World Bank division. He is Coordinator for Zimbabwe and runs the Blue Van a mobile Internet center visiting the back roots. He is reflecting the use of Internet in remote rural areas and it´s power for education and self representation.

file info MPEG 1.0 layer 3 audio stream data, 128 kBit/s, 44.1 kHz, jstereo

Cultural Invasion


high-band >> cultural_invasion.mp3 ______4.9 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/cultural_invasion_low.mp3 ______0.95 MB

description In the Blue Van/Siachilaba/Near Lake Kariba/North-Zimbabwe. - Eliada Gudza talks about basic problems in connecting peripher and marginallised areas, about cultural invasions and about globalisation and Internet. Eliada Gudza works for World Link Program - a World Bank division. He lived and worked in London and is now Coordinator for Zimbabwe and the Blue Van the mobile Internet centers visiting the back roots.

file info MPEG 1.0 layer 3 audio stream data, 128 kBit/s, 44.1 kHz, jstereo


high -band >> aida.mp3 ______2.46 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/aida_low.mp3 ______0.47 MB

description Tonga voices, the sound of 10 computers and the generator of the mobile Internet center the Blue Van. Two young woman from Siachilaba using a Computer for the first time. Aida (25) want´s to know all about it and teach her child.


file info MPEG 1.0 layer 3 audio stream data, 128 kBit/s, 44.1 kHz, jstereo



high -band >> tonga.mp3 ______3.65 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/tonga_low.mp3______0.69 MB

description A kind of minimal interview with kids in Siachilaba in the North of Zimbabwe. Andreas Felber a music journalist based in Vienna asks a crowd of Tonga speaking schoolchilds about their expectations on computers. The local teacher translates on a hot spring afternoon in the Blue Van, the mobile Internet center, that brought the computers to the Binga area.

file info MPEG 1.0 layer 3 audio stream data, 128 kBit/s, 44.1 kHz, jstereo


Lake Kariba

high - band >> lake_kariba.mp3 ______0.39 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/lake_kariba_low.mp3 ______0.07 MB

description Lake Kariba. Zimbabwe. Fisherman at a huge inland sea existing since the Zambezi was damed in the 60´s. In 1957 the Valley Tonga were forcibly removed from the shores of the Zambezi River to make way for the building of Kariba dam which brought electricity to the rest of Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) and huge commercial benefits to the nation in the form of tourism around the lake. Until the early 1980s which saw the building of schools, clinics and roads, these benefits all but completely bypassed the Tonga. Much has been said about the harm done to the Tonga through displacing them and abandoning them on arid land. The social disruption was a cataclysm with families being split and members cut off from each other because of the barrier presented by the dam and, in 1964, the new political border with Zambia.

file info MPEG 1.0 layer 3 audio stream data, 128 kBit/s, 44.1 kHz, jstereo


Zimbabwe related



high - band >> chi_solo.mp3 ______4.5 MB

high - band >> chi_politics.mp3 ______4.6 MB

high - band >> chi.mp3 ______9.1 MB, solo and politics

low - fi >> low_fi/chi_low.mp3______1.74 MB




description Harare. Book Cafe. The singer Chiwoniso is talking about her songs, the life of an artist, about freedom of expression and politicians all over the world: "Europe never understood africa". Chiwoniso Maraire spent most of her adolescence in both Zimbabwe and the United States. Chiwoniso, affectionately called Chi, is an African music revelation. She combines her traditional Shona mbira style, which emerges naturally from within her, with something that is entirely and unisquely her own. It is a fascinating, seamless fabric of sound. The songs, most of them, Chiwoniso¹s originals, combine memorable melodies with deeply spiritual, heart-felt lyrics. Ancient Voices is a successful fusion of blues, jazz, rap, reggae and rhythms from Zimbabwe, sung with an incredible voice in English and Shona. The man speaking is Robert Bilek (working for the radio program Ö1).

file info MPEG 1.0 layer 3 audio stream data, 128 kBit/s, 44.1 kHz, jstereo


African Renaissance

high - band >> african_renaissance.mp3 ______2.17 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/african_renaissance_low.mp3 ______0.41 MB

description South-Zimbabwe. In the mountains near Chimanimani National Park with 2,240m high peaks forming a natural border with Mozambique. The former south African activist Rob Sacco talks about the concept of African Renaissance. He compares it with two side views of a coin: Deep culture on the one side and modern practice on the other. He speaks about a salvation of Africa, the overcoming of post colonial influences like the colonization of African minds. Sacco detects a bright light in the future of Africa by regaining control of it´s own resources and by avoiding imitations of Western culture instead of respecting a sense of unity and a sense of personhood of communities that have not split yet.

file info MPEG 1.0 layer 3 audio stream data, 128 kBit/s, 44.1 kHz, jstereo

Airport Harare

high - band >> harare_airport.mp3 ______2.07 MB

low - fi >> low_fi/harare_airport_low.mp3 ______0.37 MB

description: At Harare Airport in the evening.

file info MPEG 1.0 layer 3 audio stream data, 128 kBit/s, 44.1 kHz, jstereo