This article disucces how violation of copyright law has caused quite a stir in Zimbabwe’s Sungura music performance. Some prominent musicians accuse upcoming artistes of illegally copying their music, although the popular musicians themselves developed it by modeling on foreign popular musicians’ songs, which were on the local market and shows in Zimbabwe. By tracing the development of sungura from the 1960s to contemporary times using a diffusionist paradigm, this paper exposes how sungura artists have developed a genre that owes its popularity to record companies’ policies, the media as well as the sungura artists’ virtuosity in fusing foreign musical genres (especially Congolese, Kenyan, Tanzanian and South African) and local indigenous traditional styles (mhande, mbende, jiti, shangara). We interviewed sungura artists, recording company personnel and music promoters to elicit their views on the major influences on the development of museve. Based on insights drawn from musical ethnography, the paper goes on to propose a revised framework of analysis and terminology to account for sungura musicians’ relationships. We examine the characteristics of a couple of sungura musicians with a view to justifying how each falls into a particular category. Using critical African cultural studies, we proffer the terms trendsetters, emulators and copycats as categories into which sungura musicians in Zimbabwe fit. One way or the other there is mimicry which might account for lack of lawsuits against perceived violators of copyright law. The conclusion suggests collaboration to reform sungura musicians’ connections which we think holds potential to propel them to greater success.
The first author, Richard Muranda, is a teacher by profession who holds a Bachelor of Arts with Education (Africa University), Bachelor of Music Honours and Masters of Music degrees from the University of Pretoria specializing in music technology. He is a PhD candidate at University of South Africa (UNISA). He has taught at primary and secondary schools, teachers colleges and university and has a combined working experience spanning 28 years. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Music and Musicology at Midlands State University in Zimbabwe. He has presented research papers at conferences and seminars in Botswana, Finland, Greece, South Africa, United States of America and Zimbabwe, on issues involving popular music, music technology, music performance practice, music pedagogy and computer assisted instruction. Mr Muranda has also published articles in areas involving African music, music technology, computer assisted instruction and popular music.
The second author, Wonder Maguraushe is a music doctoral student at the University of South Africa. He teaches courses in African Ethnography, Transcription and Analysis and Marimba at Midlands State University in Gweru, Zimbabwe. His research interests include folk music analysis, music performance in Africa and marimba music performance. He holds a master of Music Education Degree, Bachelor of Music Education Degree and a Diploma in Education from the University of Zimbabwe. He has taught music in primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in Zimbabwe before. He has presented papers at conferences and workshops in Durban, Gweru and Harare on popular music, folk tale songs, Zimbabwean music education development, music teaching and marimba performance practice in Zimbabwe. Wonder Maguraushe has forthcoming publications on folk music, music education and gender issues in music performance. Wonder is also a mbira music performer with Zvirimudeze mbira ensemble, and a Marimba ensemble trainer in the Department of Music and Musicology at Midlands State University.
Read Richard Muranda and Wonder Maguraushe’s article here.