Celebrate Valentines Day With Kenyan Music

Have you bought that special valentine yet?

For those who are looking to do something creative yet inexpensive to make Valentine’s Day even more special, why not send your loved one music that expresses your love and shows how much you care.

What if you are planning an intimate Valentine’s celebration with your loved one?

If so, then there is nothing more sensual than having the right music playing in the background.

It’s not easy compiling songs for Valentine’s Day because everyone has their favorite genre of music and it is also a daunting task to go through the many Kenyan music albums out there. However, we’ve decided to lessen the burden of choosing Valentine’s Day songs from our catalog of Kenyan music. After painstakingly going through the numerous of albums that we carry, we came up with a 2-part Valentine’s Day compilation which will hopefully fan the flames of your romantic fire.

These compilations are a selection of old and newer Kenyan music and cut across the various genres of Kenyan music. Included are songs of love for those who want to spend a quiet time with their partner, or have a good time with friends, or even hang out alone.

However you decide to spend your Valentine’s Day, here at KenTunes we would like to wish you a happy and love filled day. Enjoy!

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7 Resourceful Kenyan Music Books

We're often asked what books we’d recommend about Kenyan Music. Unfortunately, many of the books on Kenyan music are out of print and this has been exacerbated by the discontinuation of the teaching of music in public schools. Depending on what information is being sought, the following 7 books contain a lot of information regarding Kenyan music.

1. Songs of Kenya: Embu, Gikuyu Na Meru by John Kamenyi Wahome (1970) – This is a collection of songs drawn mainly from the folk music of the Embu, Gikuyu and Meru communities. The book was targeted towards the primary school music curriculum and was meant to enhance cultural heritage in schools.

The book contains illustrations and sheet music of the following songs – Thai Thai Thathaiya Ngai; Gacara Witu; Muiritu Ukurimarima; Wakiri Baba Araraga Akinuma; Mwere wa Njigi; Ruiru Ruri Ng’ombe; Urethua-thua Niki?; Ciana Nyingi Niikuura; Nyina wa Mucuku; Ruru Ruru Mwana; Kanyoni ka Nja; Marobo; Mwarimu Witu; Niundu Ki?; Nyoni wa Ngare; Ngukuna Mwere Ngarira; Kamwongia Ugikiya Ucuru; Mwangi Murata Wakwa; Ui Maigoya; Cumbiri Cumbiri Gikanda; Twamutiga na Kiriro Kinene; Giti kia Wambui Witu; Ndainainagio ni Mami Wakwa Ndimukue; Mutahi Ukire Gutaha Mai; Mirimu Irothira; Airitu a Murimo Uria; Tondu Twathii Twathii ku?; Ngukwira Tuthii Githomo; Ithe wa Ruriri; Mbura Ura; Wakariru Cua Cua; Watumiri Tutu; Ngwamba Gwithikiriria; Kiere Kiria Kiiru Kia Maganjo; Ng’inwa Mwana; Kirima Gia Kianjiru; Ndetire Kaunda; Kirimaa Gukuya; Nyumba ya Matunguru; Nguciriria Mwathani.

The final chapter of the book contains brief information regarding each of the songs.

2. Folk Music of Kenya by George W. Senoga-Zake (1988) – This book is written for teachers and students of music and contains comprehensive information regarding music in the different ethnic groups of Kenya.

The book is divided into 5 chapters namely: introduction to Kenyan music; songs, games and dances of Gikuyu, Luhya, Taita, Swahili, Mijikenda, Lamu, Waboni, Mwaribe, Pokomo, Bajuni, Munyoyaya, Akamba, Kuria, Embu, Gusii, Meru, Nandi, Kipsigis, Luo, Maasai, Turkana, Somali and Orma; traditional music instruments of Kenya; music in prayer and other social functions; and the Kenyan music festivals.

3. Music in East Africa: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture by Gregory Barz (2004) – This book is about people singing, dancing and making music in contemporary East African communities. The main themes of the book are (i) the interaction of East Africans with traditional music and culture, (ii) the documentation of ways in which East Africans make music and dance useful and meaningful in their lives.

The contents of the book, which also comes with a CD containing 32 indigenous songs from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are; an introduction to music in East Africa; 3 case studies of traditional performances in Nyanhugi village, Bugwere village and Kisumu town; 2 case studies of fostering social cohesion by competition and traditional music performance of the Bulabo in Sukumaland and choir competitions in Dar es Salaam; 2 case studies of the lives and musical careers of Gideon Mdegella of Tanzania and Centurio Balikoowa of Uganda; the intersection of traditional music with the popular culture in the region.

4. Kenya: The Life And Times Of Kenya Pop by Doug Paterson (2006) - (A chapter of World Music – The rough Guide: Africa, Europe and the Middle East) – The book chapter covers the history of Kenyan pop, the major genres, names, events up to 2006. Some of the topics included are the interplay of guitars; brief rundowns of music cultures of Akamba, Bajuni, Borana, Chuka, Gusii, Luhya, Luo, Maasai, Mijikenda, Samburu and Turkana; Benga wizards of the 60’s and 70’s; and trends in Kenyan music.

5. Retracing the Benga Rhythm (2008) – This is a narrative booklet, a 13 track music CD and documentary DVD complied and produced by Ketebul Music. The booklet includes amusing anecdotes, mini biographies and pictures of artists who shaped the Benga beat. The book follows Benga's spread from its roots around the shores of Lake Victoria in the early 60's to becoming the most popular music in Kenya.

6. Retracing Kikuyu Popular Music (2010) – This is also a narrative booklet, a 19 track music CD and documentary DVD complied and produced by Ketebul Music. The 8 chapter book captures the story of popular Gikuyu music and the forces that shaped it, and is rich with biographies and pictures of popular Kikuyu musicians. Their narratives paint a picture of Kikuyu rhythms and melodies today and the promise of tomorrow.

7. An Introduction To Kamba Music by P.N. Kavyu (1977) – This  out of print book is written by the late Mr. Ndilya Kavyu who was a lecturer in the Dept of Music at the then Kenyatta University College.

The book begins with a brief introduction of the Kamba community and then delves right into Kamba dances and their organization. This is followed by a chapter on the composition of vocal music and then two chapters on initiation: Nzaiko nini and nzaiko nene (first circumcision and great circumcision). Next is a chapter on religious dance which delves into Kilumi and how the Kithembe (drum) is played. Covered in choral dance music is Kiole or Nzai dance, Kuvia and Kutingila. There is also a chapter on the mukanda instrumental dance and the role of drums (kithembe, ngoma, kyaa and mbalya) in Kamba music. The final three chapters are on melody, rhythm and form.

Also contained in the book are music scores for Ndumani Twe Ni Ndisi, Marumbeta, Inyaa Mwana Mbake, Inyaa Mwana, Sangia Ndau, Mbake Metike Nzi, Tata Niwambaika, Kamulili, Inyayu Mwaitu, Nzyululuke Kayolaa, Mutambo Nukathuke, Kuanzomo, Wingathiia Na Kumanya, Kulandeke, Kyuma Kitonye, Ndindili Nilume, Inyaa Mwana Nukuia, Nzasali Yamuisyo, Nzingithangye Kathumo and Kavola Muthungu.

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The Origin Of The Kenyan National Anthem

The Kenyan national anthem was composed in 1963 in preparation for Kenya’s Independence celebrations. The task began in May, with the formation of an advisory committee that comprised of George Senoga-Zake, Richard Koskey, Graham Hyslop, Rev. Thomas Kalume, Peter Kibukosya and Samuel Waruhiu.

The anthem was to be in both English and Kiswahili and was meant to stir up a sense of patriotism and be no more than 3 verses. With the task defined, an anthem commission comprising of George Senoga-Zake, Peter Kibukosya, Washington Omondi, Graham Hyslop and Thomas Kalume was formed to come up with several anthems for consideration.

After several weeks, the commission presented its work to the advisory committee. Many traditional tunes were considered but they short listed 3 tunes from which a Pokomo lullaby was selected. The Pokomo lullaby went as follows;

Bee mdondo, bee, Bee mdondo bee
Akudobee ni gani?
Huenda hukawabige watu wa makoneah
Mwenzi uyawa, ni nani?

After which the commission came up with the theme words in both Kiswahili and English, and also agreed that the opening stanza be prayerful. And with that they composed the first version of the national anthem.Kenyan flag

The 3 verses were then presented to Prime Minister Kenyatta and the Council of Ministers in August 1963. The anthem was sung in unison in Kiswahili and English by a double quartet with the Police Band playing.

The tune was accepted but the commission was instructed to revise the second verse and also add a fourth one on devotion and readiness to defend Kenya. It was also suggested that more drumming be added to make it sound African.

The commission later met at St Paul’s Theological College where Thomas Kalume was based and finalized the national anthem. It was after this that they started training choirs in readiness for the recording.

The All Saints Cathedral choir was selected to record the English version while the Railway Training School choir recorded the Kiswahili version.

The choirs were then asked to perform the anthem at Kenyatta’s residence in Gatundu on the 4th of September. In addition to the choirs, two gentlemen, Mr. Gerishon Manane and a Mr. Peter Colmore had also separately composed anthems to be presented to the Prime Minister.

After the auditions, the Prime Minister requested that the commission’s and Mr. Manane’s anthems to be combined into one. After discussions by members of the cabinet who were present, it was decided that the anthems be put before a crowd of locals who were present for the occasion. To which they unanimously chose the commission’s anthem and thus bringing the search for an anthem to a close.

On September 10th, the commission met with members of the cabinet and later that month, the Kiswahili and English anthems were recorded. The English version was sung by a combined choir from Alliance High School, Alliance Girls High School and All Saints Cathedral, while the Kiswahili version was done by the Railways Training School choir.

*Adapted from Folk Music Of Kenya by George Senoga-Zake ©Uzima Press

Posted in General, Kenya Music | 1 Comment

Celebrate Valentines Day With Kenyan Music

Have you bought that special valentine yet?

For those who are looking to do something creative yet inexpensive to make Valentine’s Day even more special, why not send your loved one music that expresses your love and shows how much you care.

Kenyan Valentine's Day musicWhat if you are planning an intimate Valentine’s celebration with your loved one?

If so, then there is nothing more sensual than having the right music playing in the background.

It’s not easy compiling songs for Valentine’s Day because everyone has their favorite genre of music and it is also a daunting task to go through the many Kenyan music albums out there. However, we’ve decided to lessen the burden of choosing Valentine’s Day songs from our catalog of Kenyan music.

After painstakingly going through the numerous of albums that we carry, we came up with a 2-part Valentine’s Day compilations which will hopefully fan the flames of your romantic fire.

These compilations (From Kenya With Love, Volume 1 and Volume 2) are a selection of old and newer Kenyan music and cut across the various genres of Kenyan music. Included are songs of love for those who want to spend a quiet time with their partner, or have a good time with friends, or even hang out alone.

However you decide to spend your Valentine’s Day, here at KenTunes we would like to wish you a happy and love filled day. Enjoy!

Posted in Compilation, Valentines Day | 1 Comment