Timbila Miquel Bernat

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timbila.org since March 2013

This website documents a collaborative project merging European and African cultures throughout the Timbila Instrument of the Chopi people, which is investigated as a source for music composition and performance. A number of members of Drumming-GP Percussion group (Portugal) led by Miquel Bernat, undertook several field-work trips to Mozambique, in liaison with timbila player Matchume Zango. Drumming-GP learnt to play the timbila and one by one, acquired a set of instruments to complete a full timbila orchestra.
Miquel Bernat / Drumming-GP started to commission European Composers to write for timbila, including works for Timbila and Electronics. This included commissions to composers such as Jean-Luc Fafchamps's "Wooden Mind" for 7 timbilas of Mozambique completed in 2011; Ricardo Climent's "Xi" for solo timbila and Electronics, completed in 2012 , George van Dam's violin concerto with orchestra of Timbilas and Polo Vallejo's work for timbila 'Palindrumming'.
In 2013 intermedia group Manusamo & Bzika joined the timbila project team and constructed 3D models of the timbila family after a visit to Porto (sample below). These instrument are for hybrid performance with real and virtual timbilas using blender, OpenAL and kinect.


- Once upon a time there were the timbilas...
A text by Miquel Bernat (Drumming)
Just like in many other ethnic cultures from the world, but mostly in Africa, the music is functional, that is, part of the day to day life. This means that different music practices exist only for specific tasks like honey recollection, grind and pound of the grain, hunting, etc. Consequently, when these tasks no longer exist, the music that was linked to them tends to disappear. "Timbila" is the generic name given to a specific ensemble of musical instruments of the xylophone family, built and performed by the Chope ethnic group from the south of Mozambique. The word also designates the orchestra of timbilas, whose name varies depending on the register and function that it performs inside the formation: Chilanzane, Sanje, Debiinda, Chikhulu. The first known records about this instruments and their music are from the 16th century. These are through the letters that a Portuguese Catholic missionary wrote to his colleagues in India and in Portugal, making references to the particular mastery and sensibility of this people, and to the their exuberant and complex performances of music, dance and poetry. Read full text and more here

Timbila 3D Models by Manusamo y Bzika