The Musical Artistry of Bheki Mseleku

Bheki Mseleku is widely considered one of the most accomplished jazz musicians to have emerged from South Africa. His music has a profound significance in recalling and giving emphasis to that aspect of the African American jazz tradition originating in the rhythms and melodies of Africa. The influences of Zulu traditional music, South African township, classical music and American jazz are clearly evident and combine to create an exquisite and particularly lyrical style, evoking a sense of purity and peace that embraces the spiritual healing quality central to his musical inspiration.

The Artistry of Bheki Mseleku is an in-depth study of his musical style and includes annotated transcriptions and analysis of a selection of compositions and improvisations from his most acclaimed albums including ‘Celebration’, ‘Timelessness’, ‘Star Seeding’, ‘Beauty Of Sunrise’ and ‘Home at Last’. Mseleku recorded with several American jazz greats including Ravi Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Pharoah Sanders, Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins and Abbey Lincoln. His music serves as a vital link to the African–American musical art form that inspired many of the South African jazz legends.

Cape Town Harmonies: Memory, Humour & Resilience

"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

Sounding the Cape: Music, Identity and Politics in South Africa

In Sounding the Cape, Denis-Constant Martin recomposes and examines through the theoretical prism of creolisation the history of music in Cape Town, deploying analytical tools borrowed from the most recent studies of identity configurations. He demonstrates that musical creation in the Mother City, and in South Africa, has always been nurtured by contacts, exchanges and innovations made possible by exchanges, whatever the efforts made by racist powers to separate and divide people according to their origin.

African Indigenous Knowledge-Sensed Musical Arts Education

Looking at current African music studies, one notices an interesting shift from the ‘norm’ to a fresh engagement and analysis. Fresh perspectives are increasingly being presented to position African music dialogue in the arena of the so-called ‘established music fields’. While these developments are noticeable, the unmentioned, unsung and uncelebrated indigenous African music practitioners, composers, performers, poets, praise singers and so forth must not be forgotten. This publication does not claim novelty in terms of the latter gap, but takes the debate further to highlight, though in a small way, such a need. Key policy discussions informed by Africa–indigenous knowledge are entertained. As an example, the work of Mme Rangwato Magoro, from Malatane village in the greater Ga-Seloane community, is included. In addition, the Maila-go-fenywa performance group is linked with the compositional and performance work and the praise poems of Mme Magoro. All discussions and debates included in this collection of essays on musical arts education are intended for further policy consideration.

Career Choice: The Voices of Music Students

It is most times not easy for school leavers to make the right choices about the field of academic study that would help them attain their career visions. Factors including family upbringing, social-cultural experiences, early education, peer associations and perception of self all impact on the career choices of young persons.

This book researches and presents a sampling of first-hand accounts of the personal journeys towards the choice of music as a field of specialisation written by students at the Department of Music, University of Pretoria, South Africa. The self-explorations included in the book are insightful glimpses into the individual histories of the students that are worth telling. The varied individual stories are instructive to any young person who wishes to reflect seriously on self and capability before deciding on an appropriate field of higher academic studies.

Beyond Memory

South Africa possesses one of the richest popular music traditions in the world – from marabi to mbaqanga, from boeremusiek to bubblegum, from kwela to kwaito. Yet the risk that future generations of South Africans will not know their musical roots is very real. Of all the recordings made here since the 1930s, thousands have been lost for ever, for the powers-that-be never deemed them worthy of preservation. And if one peruses the books that exist on South African popular music, one still finds that their authors have on occasion jumped to conclusions that were not as foregone as they had assumed. Yet the fault lies not with them, rather in the fact that there has been precious little documentation in South Africa of who played what, or who recorded what, with whom, and when. This is true of all music-making in this country, though it is most striking in the musics of the black communities.

Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music is an invaluable publication because it offers a first-hand account of the South African music scene of the past decades from the pen of a man, Max Thamagana Mojapelo, who was situated in the very thick of things, thanks to his job as a DJ at the South African Broadcasting Corporation. This book – astonishing for the breadth of its coverage – is based on his diaries, on interviews he conducted and on numerous other sources, and we find in it not only the well-known names of recent South African music but a countless host of others whose contribution must be recorded if we and future generations are to gain an accurate picture of South African music history of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.