Filming African Music
18 November 2017
Bath Spa University, Newton Park campus
This interdisciplinary study day is a partnership between Bath Spa University, the African Musics Study Group UK branch (AMSG-UK), affiliated to the International Council for Traditional Music, the Afrika Eye Film Festival, Bristol (10-12 November 2017), and the British Forum for Ethnomusicology.
A holistic definition of ‘music’ (missing from most African lexicons) is employed by AMSG-UK to include events and communities involving sound and movement. We invite contributions from performers, music industry professionals, scholars, and active listeners that explore how video and audio recording present diverse music-making traditions to a range of audiences.
The video documentation of African music presents multiple challenges: the filming of musicians and the contexts in which they perform, both in their own cultural settings and around the world, range from the indigenous and traditional to contemporary popular musical forms. Professional and amateur filmmakers and videographers play a significant role in shaping and changing perceptions of African music, undertaking a political and selective act rather than a mere documentation of events. This raises interesting questions concerning Western and African concepts of performance and education.
The study day will consider the role of music and musicians in film, filmmaking and videography by addressing questions such as:
- What are the practical and ethical considerations concerning the filming of musicians in the field, transforming fieldwork to product, and in cinematic production?
- What are the impacts of filming or of film itself on music and dance practices in local and global communities?
- How has cinema influenced African communities?
- How do audio/visual relationships in film create meaning beyond the surface of the narrative?
- How does music content and composition in film relate to diegetic/non-diegetic sounds?
- Is there an identifiable aesthetic in the construct of African music/dance film? If so does it influence music/dance films in the UK (and/or France, USA etc.)?
- How do filmmakers, videographers and musicians respond to political, cultural and aesthetic differences between Africa and the West? For example, how does the multimusicality of Malian musicians challenge the way nationhood or identity are represented?
- What role does film play a) in influencing music education in Africa or b) in educating the West about music in Africa?
- To what extent can film be used to provide music educators with evidence of a relationship between tradition and innovation in the practices of African musicians?
- What role can film play in exploring or capturing perspectives held by contemporary African musicians on their teaching and learning experiences?
Equally important is to consider what is not captured on film. The relationship between representation and politics determines how history translates through culture, thus informing debates in history and cultural studies more widely.
Presentations are invited which conform with or break from the conventional academic 20-minute conference paper format, including presentations using diverse media, between 10 and 30 minutes in length. Proposals for screenings outside these parameters will also be considered. We anticipate vigorous debate through sharing research-in-progress communicated through speech, performance, hands-on workshops, or film and multimedia.
The event will provide networking opportunities with filmmakers and performers, and will include:
- Screening of ‘They’ll Have to Kill us First’ followed by Q&A with writer Andy Morgan and filmmaker Simon Bright
- MediaWall (digital gallery space) launch and dance improvisation
- Evening performance with Chartwell Dutiro (mbira), Sura Susso (kora), Suntou Susso (percussion), Pete Bernard (piano), Ripton Lindsay (dance)
Conference website: Filming African Music
Submission of abstracts
Proposals (max. 300 words) should be submitted to EasyChair by 12 midnight GMT on Friday 1 September 2017. Late proposals will not be accepted. You will be notified by 20 September 2017 whether or not your proposal has been accepted.
Programme Committee: Amanda Bayley (chair), Chartwell Dutiro, Terry Rodgers, Amanda Villepastour, Trevor Wiggins.
The study day is being run in partnership with Afrika Eye Film Festival, Bristol, 10-12 November 2017, and Cardiff University, School of Music which is hosting a related event on Tuesday 14 November 2017, comprising the annual Royal Anthropological Institute Blacking Lecture, given by Lucy Duran (winner of an AHRC Research in Film Award, 2015), and a free afternoon dance workshop with live drumming (1-3pm) and evening performance by Senegalese musician Landing Mané.
Further information can be obtained from Amanda Bayley email@example.com