Although a separate "instrument", the rattles
that accompany mbira are so integral to mbira music it makes sense to
group them with the mbira and its gourd resonator.
Made from the dried and emptied hollow pods of mapudzi or
maranka gourds, boiled in salted water to harden them, and
filled with dried seeds (hota seeds
of a specific variety of canna lily or dried maize kernels), the sharp
cracking percussive sound of well-played hosho provide a strong sense of
time and polyrhythmic energy to the music.
The player will show in this paragraph
Playing hosho is deceptively difficult—a
delicate art. Producing the desired snap and crack, the hosho player plays
a critical role in driving the beat for both the mbira players and the
dancing and singing participants. The most common rhythm played is the
triplet pattern that is inherent in the mbira melodies and brought out
by the hosho's distinctive sound.
For more on the rhythmic patterns the hosho helps create see the rhythm