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About Isicathamiya

Isicathamiya (with the "c" pronounced as a dental click) is a singing style that originated from the South African Zulus. In European understanding, a cappella is also used to describe this form of singing. The word itself does not have a literal translation; it is derived from the Zulu verb -cathama, which means walking softly, or tread carefully. Isicathamiya contrasts with an earlier name for Zulu a cappella singing, mbube, meaning "lion". The change in name marks a transition in the style of the music: traditionally, music described as Mbube is sung loudly and powerfully, while isicathamiya focuses more on achieving a harmonious blend between the voices. The name also refers to the style's tightly-choreographed dance moves that keep the singers on their toes. South African singing groups such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo demonstrate this style. Isicathamiya choirs are traditionally all male. Its roots reach back before the turn of the 20th century, when numerous men left the homelands in order to search for work in the cities. As many of the tribesmen became urbanized, the style was forgotten through much of the 20th century. Today, isicathamiya competitions in Johannesburg and Durban take place on Saturday nights, with up to 30 choirs performing from 8pm - 8am the following morning.


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Isicathamiya , which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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