1st Bow Music Conference
Durban, South Africa

24 - 27 February 2016

In the digital era, the persistence of bows in our relationship to musical sound is acknowledged in expanding research, greater public interest and visibility of indigenous bow music practices in recorded, live and broadcast performance media. While musical bows occur indigenously in several regions of the world: Europe, the Americas, Oceania, Pacific islands, Asia including China and areas of the Indian subcontinent, the richest diversity in musical bows has been documented in sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the world.In contemporary South Africa a growing focus on musical bows has been expressed in several innovative events, such as the Bow Project (2008), Ikhaya (2010) Insurrections (2012–15) and ICTM-African Musics Study Group’s recent symposium in Durban in October 2015.

In order to deepen our understanding of the historical, creative and scientific importance of musical bows in the global experience of organized sound, the ‘Sources of Creativity’ Project (hosted by the Music Discipline at the University of KwaZulu-Natal) invites proposals for:


    •    Papers, lecture demonstrations, workshop presentations (20 mins duration plus 10 mins for discussion)
    •    music performances (30 - 40 mins duration)
    •    Excerpts from video and documentary film (maximum 40 mins duration including discussion)
    •    exhibitions (including posters, and instrument displays)
    •    panel discussions (no longer than 60 mins duration)




 Calabash poster



Tenth Anniversary of the African Cultural Calabash

and the First International Council for Traditional Music African Musics Study Group Symposium

Hosted by the African Music Project, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban South Africa

September 30 – October 3 2015





Music Student Among Winners in National Piano Competition

UKZN Music student Mr Lungelo Ngcobo recently finished second in the jazz category of the UNISA National Piano Competition, walking off with R35000 in prize money as well as the Best Up-Tempo Performance award.

The finals took place at the Z K Matthews Great Hall at UNISA in Pretoria.

In the final round, Ngcobo performed in a trio with seasoned musicians, playing jazz standards such as My Funny Valentine, Melancholy in Cologne, We Will Meet Again, and Beatrice.

 ‘It is a great accomplishment for me, especially since it was a national competition,’ said Ngcobo. ‘I worked hard to achieve what I did. I believe this means I have the talent to become a great musician/pianist so now I have to dig deep and hone my skills.’

His family and friends were impressed with his achievement. ‘My uncle travelled all the way from Durban to Pretoria to be at the finals.  I've been getting so much support from both friends and family.’

His plans for the future include touring all over the world and ensuring the success of his music for film and television company, Monarch Music Network.

Melissa Mungroo




Discipline of Music Participates in National Youth Jazz Festival

Part of the National Arts Festival, the NYJF provides performance and educational opportunities for participants from all over South Africa.

Deputy Vive-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, who spends her winter leave each year at the Festival, said: ‘I will continue to provide the Music Department with support and nurture UKZN talent. I thank Debbi Mari and her team for their ongoing commitment.’

Supported by the College of Humanities, first year Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music student, bass guitarist Mr Dalisu Ndlazi, was selected for the prestigious National Youth Jazz Band to be directed by Johannesburg-based UKZN alumnus Concord Nkabinde. ‘I’m excited to be a part of this and grateful to the Music Department, the DVC and the College for their support,’ said Ndlazi.

Top international and national musicians and teachers gathered for the week-long NYJF which includes the Standard Bank Jazz Festival. The NYJF brings together 250 top young jazz musicians – they audition to get into the National Youth and National Schools Jazz Bands - 35 jazz educators and 80 jazz performers from South Africa and around the world.

Lecturer in the UKZN Jazz Studies programme, Ms Debbie Mari, performed with the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, taught in the vocal jazz team and directed the Jazz Choir. ‘The Festival showcases the diversity of jazz talent among the youth and when you witness this, you rest assured that the future of jazz in South Africa is in very good hands,’ said Mari.

‘This is also an important jazz development programme in the country and when we consider how little music education is available to learners in schools, jazz performers and educators are always eager to participate.’

A group of Music students from the Jazz Studies programme, who were coached throughout the first semester by part-time Lecturer, Mr Burton Naidoo, also attended the Festival and presented a well-received concert, which included some of their original compositions and a selection of jazz and South African standards.

Melissa Mungroo





UKZN Music Student in Semi-Finals of International Competition

Music student Mr Kwena Ramahuta is flying the UKZN flag high – he is one of 12 semi-finalists in the prestigious annual Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) Overseas Scholarships Competition.
One singer in each category will claim a top prize of a R170 000 study award and the opportunity to accelerate their journey towards artistic and creative excellence.
‘It is really an exhilarating experience to be a part of such a big event in this country,’ said Ramahuta. ‘To have even qualified among the many talented applicants to me is an honour. This means I have to do my utmost best,’ said Ramahuta.
He has always wanted to further his studies beyond the undergraduate level and this, he feels, is an amazing opportunity for him. ‘I believe studying abroad or just the experience of being abroad will definitely help me grow in my craft and inter-relational skills. You learn a lot from different cultures.’
Speaking about his love for music, Ramahuta said: ‘What is really dear to my heart is furthering education through music in this country. I have been underprivileged in that regard, growing up in Limpopo and having to start studying music at a later stage. I believe in music education and that it has a role in making South Africa a better socio-economic place.’
Ramahuta chose UKZN, having heard about the music programme and its excellent reputation in South Africa and internationally. ‘I have been impressed since my first year with the quality of teachers here who are dedicated and good at what they do.’
He says music bursaries are a rare commodity, especially in South Africa. ‘Most of us aim to get on the international scene or at least be exposed to it and to think such opportunities are made available by such funding is beautiful.’
Ramahuta is busy practising, rehearsing and honing his music techniques and skills for the finals.
He is set to compete live during the intermediate round on 27 August. Four finalists – two from each of the categories of Western Art (“classical”) Music and Jazz – will compete for the top prizes on 29 August.
This thrilling final round, which is open to the public, features live accompaniment, special guests and performances of a selection of musical works, including a South African composition specially written for the occasion.




Kathryn Olsen
Music and Social Change in South Africa: Maskanda Past and Present

published by Temple University Press at the end of 2014, looks at contemporary maskanda against the backdrop of South Africa’s history. Working closely with translated song lyrics and musical notation—and applying musical and socio-political analysis to this music and its cultural context—Olsen argues that maskanda offers insight into how the post-apartheid ideal of social transformation is experienced by those who were marginalized for most of the twentieth century.

Drawing on a decade of research, Olsen strives to demystify the Zulu part of contemporary experience in South Africa and to reveal some of the complexities of the social, economic, and political landscape of contemporary South Africa. This book is enhanced by audio-visual material on Temple University Press’s Ethnomusicology Multimedia website.

Dr. Olsen is a Lecturer in Ethnomusicology, Popular Music, and Related Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Arts.





Christopher Ballantine

Marabi Nights: Jazz, 'race' and Society in Early Apartheid South Africa 

The second edition of Christopher Ballantine's classic Marabi nights - Jazz, 'race' and society presents a fascinating view of the marabi jazz tradition in South African popular music to a new generation of music fans and scholars of cultural studies, politics and music. Based on conversations with legendary figures in the world of music as well as a perceptive reading of music, its socio-political history and social meanings, Ballantine's project is one of sensitive and impassioned curatorship. An accompanying CD of recordings from the 1930s and 1940s yields almost forgotten treasures. A selection of archival images gives the narrative further resonance. The second edition contains a new chapter on the Manhattan Brothers and singing groups' adaptation of the American close harmony tradition. Through the prism of popular music, the new edition also goes further in its discussion of gender in the context of forced migrant labour in the 1950s.

Christopher Ballantine is Emeritus LG Joel Professor of Music at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a Fellow of the University, and an internationally acclaimed researcher and writer on music. His books and articles tend to be cross-cultural and interdisciplinary, and cover a wide range of issues in the fields of musicology, popular music studies, the sociology of music, and ethnomusicology.



updated 17 November 2015 by Jurgen Brauninger 

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