Art & Design | Technology

The Google Doodle celebrates Zimbabwe’s thumb piano

Google is celebrating Zimbabwe’s culture with a Google Doodle game that lets you play the country’s national instrument the mbira, which is also known as a thumb piano

The interactive doodle is divided into four chapters and follows a girl as she learns about the mbira, after she first hears it being played by a man under a tree.

The doodle explains that the mbira is an ancient instrument of Zimbabwe’s Shona people.

The girl then sees a mbira being made – it has between 22 and 28 metal keys with bottle tops, shells or beads on the soundboard that vibrate to make a buzzing sound when played.

As she grows older the girl learns how to play the mbira using a large calabash gourd that amplifies the sound.

In the last chapter you see her as a grown woman going on stage to perform with a big band – showing how the mbira remains an important sound in modern Zimbabwe.

During the game, you also can learn how to play the following tunes: Nhemamusasa, Bangiza, Taireva, Chemutengure.

The Google Doodles team went to Zimbabwe before putting together their game – watch this clip to find out more about their trip: