Welcome to the Makishi Music homepage! The purpose of this site is to provide multimedia information and educational resources about the makishi sonic world. Makishi are ancestral spirits who manifest in Chokwe, Luchazi, Luvale, Mbunda, and other related communities in the Zambia-Angola-D.R.C. region of Africa. Though makishi are often described as “masks” or “masquerades,” I prefer to call them “manifest ancestral spirits” (Nzewi 1997, 39)1 because the physical appearance is but one component of the spirit. A mask alone does not make an ancestor. Instead, the spirit only achieves presence through the combination of performed action, embodied personality, vocal timbre, and physical appearance. Much of makishi action involves sound and music. This site is dedicated to these sonic components of spirit manifestation.

Though I am concerned with all sounds involved in makishi performance, I place special attention on the percussion ensembles that accompany the ancestors’ dances. This emphasis is not limited to the instruments, their repertoire, or how they are tuned, but also includes the groups and people involved in makishi music. Recognizing that not all makishi sounds involve music, this site is also dedicated to other sonic components of performance such as ancestral voices. Navigate to any of these pages by clicking on these circles, links, or through the menu bar.

This site is designed to both stand on its own and act as a chapter of my doctoral dissertation in ethnomusicology, DISSERTATION TITLE. Though Makishi Music provides a relatively detailed picture of makishi performance, I direct the curious reader to my dissertation for further information, sources, and analyses.

  1. Nzewi, Meki. 1997. African Music: Theoretical Content and Creative Continuum. Oldershausen: Institut für Didaktik populärer Musik.
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