The deze (plural mateze) is not an intsrument itself, but rather a resonator for any mbira. The deze consists of a large, round gourd (calabash) that is hollowed out and adorned with shells or bottlecaps to produce a buzzing sound. The mbira, matepe, njari, or whatever instrument is placed in the opening of the gourd and wedged in with a stick, so that the vibrations of the instrument’s keys and soundboard are transferred to the whole gourd. The air space in the gourd also creates a resonating chamber, which can increase the mbira’s volume by two times or more. In modern times, fiberglass has been increasingly used instead of a gourd, as it is more durable and more readily available; however, only a natrual gourd can produce the true sound of mbira music. Performers traditionally never play in public without using a deze, because the instrument must be loud enough for audience members to sing, clap, dance, and play drums or hosho without drowning it out. Today, electronic amplification is often used by musician in urban areas, especially when playing with Western instruments like guitars, but mateze remain the amplifier of choice in rural areas and villages.

njari_in_dezeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmatepe_in_dezekarimba_deze

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