An acapella genre of music sung by an all male South African choir


Originating from the Zulu people, Isicathamiya has become an integral part of South African musical culture, enchanting audiences with its unique style and cultural significance. "Isicathamiya" (a Zulu phrase meaning: “to walk on tiptoes'' in English) succinctly and beautifully captures the essence of its performances, where singers showcase choreographed footwork and graceful movements to accompany their singing.

The music genre's roots can be traced back to the 19th and early 20th centuries when Zulu migrant workers left their homes in the rural communities and settled in urban areas, particularly in search of employment opportunities in mines and industries. In their new surroundings, these workers formed all-male singing groups to remain connected to their cultural traditions, entertain one another, and foster a sense of camaraderie

Form and Style

The traditional call-and-response technique. During performances, the lead vocalist initiates a phrase or line, and the rest of the choir responds with a harmonized refrain. Choreography also plays a significant role in Isicathamiya performances. The intricate footwork and dance moves executed by the singers enhance the overall artistic experience

Singing Style

The acappella singing style is a prominent singing feature of Isicathamiya, characterized by the absence of instrumental accompaniment and the focus on intricate harmonies and rhythmic patterns


The lyrics and themes of Isicathamiya music are deeply rooted in Zulu culture, addressing topics such as love, community, social issues, and cultural identity



The vocal timbre in iscathamiya is typically smooth and warm/dark


Key Instruments