Daniel Kachamba: Fingerstyle guitar (unsung) hero from Malawi

October 8, 2010

I feel it is my duty to get the name of Daniel Kachamba out there in a bigger way, considering there has never been an album release of his music and he died suddenly at age 40 in 1987 before he could be “rediscovered” during the current world music (re)awakening (take Staff Benda Bilili as prime examples of this). Exposed to the popular music of the time in Malawi, saba-saba, sinjonjo, vula matambo, jive, and kwela music, Kachamba’s guitar style varied from alternate bass line thumbpicking with index finger doing the melody à la country blues stylings of Mississippi John Hurt, to rumba bass patterns underneath syncopated melodic lines (also thumb and index) to condense the sounds of Congolese rumba on to one guitar. Needless to say, Kachamba radically changed my approach to the guitar by loosening up the “western” rhythmic strictures I imposed on my basslines and facilitating greater interplay between melody, bass, and groove. He died way too young – I wish I could have met and played with him!
I did not split the below mp3 into different tracks, and it ends quite abruptly, as I snatched it from Gerhard Kubik’s excellent African Guitar video collection. It’s a bit ambitious to call it “African Guitar” considering all of West Africa, Madagascar, etc – bastions of fingerstyle guitar music – are not represented. Nevertheless, it’s thanks to Kubrik that this music is even out there at all…so myriad thanks Gerhard!

The tracklisting in order is as follows: 1) Dolosina Lumba, 2) Nairobi guitar piece, 3) Dzana lija tinali tonse 4) N.C.

Daniel Kachamba – African Guitar (Gerhard Kubik)

Here is the youtube video of Kachamba’s music from Kubik’s film:

Here also is a great audio clip of Daniel’s brother, Donald from Golden Afrique, Vol. 3:

Musandinene – Donald Kachamba

And a youtube clip of the brothers in action from 1967:

To read more about Kachamba and the other guitarists in Kubrik’s film, download African Guitar – Solo Fingerstyle Guitar Music from Uganda, Congo/Zaire, Central African Republic, Malawi, Namibia, and Zambia by Gerhard Kubik, an incredibly edifying pdf booklet that accompanies the dvd.

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3 Responses to “Daniel Kachamba: Fingerstyle guitar (unsung) hero from Malawi”

  1. brian Says:

    thats pretty amazing stuff. I will be checking more of this out. thanks and cool blog!

  2. Zalimba Says:

    Great music! Can provide much insight to the current crop of Malawian artists famous for releasing poor and mediocre music.

  3. Boy Says:

    I did watch Daniel play his music on a number of occassions, I tell you that he was really a genius and the way he plucked his strings on his guitar, you could not understand how he was doing it. Malawi lost a hero, MHSRIP


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