Google celebrates Zimbabwe’s national instrument

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Google is celebrating Zimbabwe’s national instrument, the mbira, with a new Doodle as Zimbabwe’s Culture Week begins. The mbira originated in Southern Africa and serves as the cultural identity of Zimbabwe’s Shona people.

The instrument is made of a hardwood soundboard known as a gwariva and a series of thin, metal keys. Bootle caps or beads can be added to the soundboard to create a buzzing sound.

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The mbira is used in a number of Shona ceremonies and has helped to pass down songs for hundreds of years. Google’s homepage features an illustration of the instrument alongside the company’s logo and a play button.

Pressing the button will allow users to play a music game using the mbira. Players are challenged to use their mouse and hover over the right metal key at the right time.

The game also tells the story of a young girl in Zimbabwe who grows up fascinated by the mbira and grows up to perform the instrument onstage during a concert.

Google also released a behind-the-scenes video showcasing the creation of the Doodle and the research that went on in Zimbabwe.

“I think anyone who has had more than five minutes with Zimbabwean mbira cannot forget the sound. To me, it’s a cross between water and air,” Albert Chimedza, musician and founder of The Mbira Centre said in the clip.

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