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World On Your Street: The Global Music Challenge
Cloud Chiswamu
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Describe the atmosphere and live music at a local pub, restaurant, festival, church or temple, club night.... inspire other people to check it out!


Musician: Cloud Chiswamu

Location: Leicester

Instruments: voice, marimba

Music: Zimbabwean


Listen  Listen to Cloud Chiswamu talk about his music

Listen  Listen to Cloud Chiswamu play his music on the marimba

'Playing music kept me out of crime growing up in Harare '

How I came to this music:

My father was Zimbabwean. He was very old when he married my mum. He never talked to us that much but my mum and my sisters are good at singing so it seeped through.

I started playing marimba at the age of seven at a centre set up by the city council where children go for after school activities. I learned by ear. If you can play marimba it's easy to play keyboard.

Usually six people play a set of six marimbas - two soprano, two tenors, a baritone and a bass. Each marimba has 17 notes. And you'll always have a seventh person, the drummer playing the bongos.

Everyone plays a different line but at times the tenors may play the same thing. Each one's got different sticks - the tenors are fluffy, the baritone sticks are small while the bass ones are big and heavy. We used to call them hammers.

The instrument that I am playing at the moment is not the proper one - it's mostly for display. It's got eight notes but the big one's got 17 notes. When tourists come to Africa they like to buy the smaller one. I'd be very happy to get a proper one.

Where I play:

Cloud ChiswamuWe played for the city council. We'd go to Harare sometimes to play for the president when he'd come through the airport. We wouldn't get paid. We did it voluntarily because we liked it and we had no jobs. It was the best way to stay away from crime.

Sometimes we did street shows. Sometimes we'd play at parties and weddings. Weddings are now more modern but at a proper one they don't wear clothes - just animal skins for the man while the lady, would wear something to cover her breasts, hips and feet. They slaughter cows with an axe to prove their manhood! It's mostly the ladies who do the singing - the aunties and mother-in-law. The girl's parents sing of their sadness that their baby is going and the others will be singing "Yeah, bring her. We are taking her."

A favourite song:

I love the national anthem which says "God bless Africa". They still sing it in South Africa. They used to sing it in Zimbabwe but now they've got a different one.

Click here for Hande Domac's storyClick here for Mosi Conde's storyClick here for Rachel McLeod's story


More World On Your Street from BBC Leicester



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