Google Doodle highlighted the history of the mbira on Thursday (May 21) to mark Zimbabwe Culture Week.
The interactive video features the story of a young African girl as she’s exposed to the instrument and even gives users the opportunity to play the mbira Guitar Hero-style. “I think anyone who has had more than five minutes with Zimbabwean mbira cannot forget the sound,” says musician Albert Chimedza, founder of The Mbira Center, in a separate behind-the-scenes clip. “Mbira is basically a piece of wood. A board, the sound board with keys on it. And you basically play it with your two thumbs and with your little finger.”
“This seemed like a wonderful opportunity to really show the journey of the mbira from concert and ceremonies, to really understand how people use it,” explains Google Doodle artist Helene Leroux, while lead engineer Jonathan Shneier adds, “For this Doodle we really wanted to give people a chance to really play the instrument and pepper the music in with little ways to interact with all the parts in the story and make more of a narrative that people can see how it’s used, the culture, what’s the story of this instrument and the people.”
The latest Doodle arrived on the same day as Billboard‘s latest cover story, which is about how rising African artists like Tiwa Savage, Davido and Mr. Eazi are bringing their home continent’s music to an increasingly global audience.
Check out the story behind the latest Google Doodle below.