The concept of masking as a cultural device for Chewa music and dance performances
Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa
University of the Free State, Odeion School of Music, PO Box 339, Bloemfontein, South Africa
In the course of field research various relationships between Chewa masking as a cultural phenomenon and Chewa music and dance became consistently evident. The research focused on the ethnographic study of drumming artistry within major Chewa dances. This resulted in a detailed analysis of Chewa dance organisations and drumming accompaniment from musical, anthropological, theatre, fine art and dance perspectives. In this article two Chewa dances, gulewamkulu and mganda, are used to demonstrate that Chewa music and dance performances display the concept of masking through their organisation, presentation and coordination. As a cultural device, Chewa masking emanates from various historical roots and is applied to music and dance performances culturally, musically, symbolically and aesthetically, making it a key element in the execution of these performances. © 2011 Copyright NISC (Pty) Ltd.