Who would’ve thought that what looks like a death machine could sound so ethereally good? You may not have heard of the bizarre instrument array mbira, but it’s something you definitely won’t ever forget. And a delightful performance is here to prove all that. A video of the YouTuber Xuan Xuan displays her breathtaking cover of a lovely song in Spirited Away called “One Summer’s Day.” And the star of the show is none other than the said musical instrument! The array mbira honestly looks very intimidating at first glance. But, mind you, it reverberates an otherworldly melody that can pierce through anyone’s heart.
As stunning as the instrument is, it also comes with a lot of challenges. Array mbira is rather a complex instrument derived from the mbira thumb piano– a native instrument of the Shona people in Zimbabwe. It is a much modern version of the thumb piano that’s hand-crafted to perfection. The radical design is created by Bill Wesley, with the metal tines assembled into multiple octaves, which further increased the difficulty.
Studio Ghibli’s music is already fascinating and mesmerizing in itself. Whether it’s a gentle piano piece or a heavy battle cry, the soundtracks were all able to take you to unseen worlds and familiar places at the same time. They were able to show you the very essence of what the scene wanted to express and portray. However, when combined with such an odd and novel instrument, the result brings nostalgic beauty and childhood dreaminess like no other. As to the slow piece, One Summer’s Day, the sweet, plucky sound and resonant rhythm of the array mbira certainly weaved lightness and comfort that fills your weary soul.
Watch the warm rendition below and enjoy the lovely symphony of a bright, sunny day.
For a scary-looking instrument, this sure does bring heaven with every note!