Composer: Nathan Davis

Title: Simple Songs of Birth and Return

Category: Mbira solo

Instrumentation: mbira and electronics

Difficulty: Intermediate

Publisher: Available directly from composer


Commissioned by Douglas Perkins, Simple Songs is inspired by the essential function of (mbira) music in life rituals of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. In writing these pieces, I sought to find this quality in my own musical language – a language which is not African at all, but that nonetheless seeks to have cultural relevance in my time and place. Of the movements excerpted here, “A Tale Begun” is written in celebration of the birth of Douglas’ first child, Jacob, and is inspired by the poem of that name by Wislawa Szymborska. “Two Shadows” is inspired by the Shona concept of the separation of one’s light and dark shadows after death.

-Nathan Davis


Annotated by Dan Pessalano