Cape Town Harmonies: Memory, Humour & Resilience

Published Date: 03/10/2016

Available from




“Cape Town’s public cultures can only be fully appreciated through recognition of its deep and diverse soundscape. We have to listen to what has made and makes a city. The ear is an integral part of the ‘research tools’ one needs to get a sense of any city. We have to listen to the sounds that made and make the expansive ‘mother city’. Various of its constituent parts sound different from each other … [T]here is the sound of the singing men and their choirs (“teams” they are called) in preparation for the longstanding annual Malay choral competitions. The lyrics from the various repertoires they perform are hardly ever written down. […] There are texts of the hallowed ‘Dutch songs’ but these do not circulate easily and widely. Researchers dream of finding lyrics from decades ago, not to mention a few generations ago – back to the early 19th century. This work by Denis Constant Martin and Armelle Gaulier provides us with a very useful selection of these songs. More than that, it is a critical sociological reflection of the place of these songs and their performers in the context that have given rise to them and sustains their relevance. It is a necessary work and is a very important scholarly intervention about a rather neglected aspect of the history and present production of music in the city.”

—  Shamil Jeppie, Associate Professor in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Cape Town

DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.824636



Acknowledgements vii

Foreword xiii

Prologue xvii



Part One: Memory and Processes of Musical Appropriation

CHAPTER 1 Music behind the music: Appropriation as the engine of creation 39

CHAPTER 2 In the footsteps of the future: Musical memory and reconciliation in South Africa 59


Part Two: Nederlandsliedjies and Notions of Blending

CHAPTER 3 The nederlandsliedjies’ “uniqueness” 77

CHAPTER 4 The meanings of blending 107


Part Three Moppies: Humour and Survival

CHAPTER 5 Assembling comic songs 135

CHAPTER 6 Behind the comic 179



Memory, resilience, identity and creolisation 219


Appendix 1 –  Nederlandsliedjies lyrics 237

Appendix 2 – Cape Malay Choir Board adjudication reports 247

Appendix 3 –  Moppie lyrics 253

References 321

Interviews with musicians, judges and experts 335




Videos of Malay Choirs, mostly shot during official competitions, can be found on the “Malay Choirs” page of YouTube. Below is a list of links to a sample of excellent interpretations of nederlandsliedjies and Moppies.



Jonge Studente: Wees Ewig Lustig

Jonge Studente: Groot Vogelen

Ottomans Sporting Club: Vriende wilt gij mijn aanhooren

Primrose MVC: Blom en Blaar

Young Men Sporting Club: Die Klok Slaan Acht

Young Men Sporting Club: Die Orkaane


Moppies – Comic Songs

Calypso Singkoor: Paris Hilton Vanie Kaap

Coronation Singkoor: Sokkie Dans

Coronation Singkoor: Sarah se Frikkedella

Ottomans Sporting Club: Gertie

Young Men Sporting Club: Wilhemina die Moffie

Young Men Sporting Club: Koor Kompetisie in 7nde Laan

Reviews (1)

One Comment

Leave a Reply


Related Products