background to the song
Makomo is a song that was brought to Camden by Dr Chartwell Dutiro as part of the Camden World Song Project. It is a Shona song from Zimbabwe.
The song means “Those mountains, those mountains that are far away. Those mountains, they remind us of home”.
The arrangement of the song we’re singing is based on an arrangement by Gitika Partington, a wonderful songwriter, teacher and choral director who has a longstanding link with Camden.
things to think about when learning the song
Bring this song to life – sing it with conviction. See the quote below from Chartwell about singing in Zimbabwe – it’s not just something done by choirs!
There are two versions of the sheet music. The condensed version just shows how each of the vocal lines go. The other version is the whole arrangement transcribed – which is as follows:-
Intro – phrases in question and answer – might be soloists here.
A bassline comes in on its own
B add in melody line (two parts together)
C add in low harmony (three parts together)
D add in high harmony (four parts together)
E drop back to just the melody – then add in the low and high harmonies (no bassline)
F all parts together (including bassline) – leading to the repeating bits for the ending
Please learn all the lines so we can mix and match and balance up the performance.
I feel very fortunate to have met Chartwell, an amazing musician, teacher and academic. It wasn’t until after I met him that I found out quite how much he did! He was a master Mbira player, having started learning at the age of four. He was also a saxophonist, touring the world with Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited. He studied and taught at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (SOAS). He later moved from London down to Ashburton in Devon.
The BBC interviewed Chartwell and here he explains in his own words about how he came to be a musician and what it meant to him.
“I believe music can build bridges between cultures. So here I am in Devon, a Zimbabwean missionary if you like, playing mbira in schools and community halls“
He explained about how singing is really important part of life in Zimbabwe.
“We sing all the time – if it rains we sing, if we want the rain to ease off, then we sing. When a baby’s born we sing. If someone dies we sing. We sing when we’re happy and when we’re sad. I wake up in the morning with a song and start yodelling away with spontaneous lyrics about what I’ll be doing that day or maybe about what I dreamed of last night. It’s right in my soul and expresses exactly how I feel at a particular moment in time.”