Mbube (The Lion)

Arr. by Dale Jergenson

SATB, keyboard, guitar, percussion

Laurendale Associates


Review from The Choral Journal, February, 1996

This Zulu dance song could be a real hit with singers and listeners. Whispered chanting and short melodic fragments fit in and out above eighteen repetitions of a I-IV-I-V7 harmonic progression combined with three drum ostinatos. Although the tenor part often divides in three, the lower (or lower two) parts are within the baritone range. The principal difficulty is rhythmic: over an incessant swing-style dotted-eighth/sixteenth-note figure, singers have widely varied rhythms including even eighths, quarter-note triplets, and full-measure septuplets, sometimes with individual notes further divided. Perhaps the intent is a sort of rhythmic heterophony rather than mathematical precision. The sounds of the Zulu text are not without challenge, but a pronunciation guide and text explanations offer help. The arrangement includes no singing translation. Separate guitar and drum parts are available from the publisher, but since each part consists of only one repeated measure, they hardly seem necessary. Though the keyboard accompaniment adds to performance security, it hardly contributes an authentic sound. The final page is a sort of coda-cadenza in which first sopranos ascend from g2 to b-flat2 for a rousing conclusion.

Review by Larry D. Cook