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Namibian Soundscapes: Music of the People and the Land

Namibian Soundscapes: Music of the People and the Land

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Namibian Soundscapes: Music of the People and the Land

108 pagine
56 minuti
Aug 27, 2013


The interviews in this book tell the musicians fascinating stories of growing up in rural and urban Namibia. They capture the extreme difficulties, and the rewards of carving out musical careers in a beautiful, desert-like country of immense diversity. The musicians lived with the reality of apartheid and the intense struggle for Namibian independence. They pursued their passion for music through listening, performing, teaching and studying music. The interviews included Jackson Kaujeua, Namibian music legend, and Minette Mans, internationally known music educator and researcher. The stories ranged from musics role in the independence struggle, to village ritual music and dance, to international travel to perform and teach, to singing in church choirs. Preserving traditional Namibian music was a theme throughout the interviews.
Aug 27, 2013

Informazioni sull'autore

MYRNA CAPP holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, and is Assistant Professor of music at Seattle Pacific University where she teaches piano and piano pedagogy. Active in presenting research on African music at national and international conferences, Dr. Capp has also lectured in music, performed and done research in Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia. She is author of the book, “Keeping the Embers Alive: Musicians of Zimbabwe” (Africa World Press, 2008) GRAYSON CAPP holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Oregon Health Science University in Portland, and has done post-doctoral research at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. As a Professor of Biochemistry, he has lectured in the States, South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Namibia. Grayson has a passion for photog¬raphy and travel. Myrna and Grayson were both volunteers for IFESH (The International Foundation for Education and Self-Help) at the University of Namibia in Windhoek. They are currently based in Seattle.

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Namibian Soundscapes - Grayson Capp


Copyright 2013 Myrna Capp.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written prior permission of the author.

Photographs by Grayson Capp

ISBN: 978-1-4907-0969-7 (sc)

       978-1-4907-0970-3 (e)

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

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Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Trafford rev. 8/19/2013

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Namibian Soundscapes:

Music of the People and the Land

Interviews and Commentary by

Myrna Capp

Photographs by

Grayson Capp

Design and Layout by

Joe Starmer



Interviews and Commentary

Jackson Kaujeua

Papa Ndasuunje Shikongeni

Papa Francois Tsoubaloko

Bonnie Periko

Pieter Hoakhaob

Ronnie Keramin

Minette Mans




The landscape was dry and barren. The only sign of life was a baboon or two. I was on the road leading from Hosea Kutako International Airport into the city of Windhoek, capital of Namibia in sub-Saharan Africa. I was to spend from October through June 2009 in this seemingly isolated area as a volunteer for the International Foundation for Education and Self Help (IFESH). My assignment at the University of Namibia was to lecture in music, perform, and do ethnomusicological research on the musical culture of Namibia, especially the traditional music.

Home to three language families: Indo-European, Khoisan and Bantu, Namibia embodied a wide variety of languages and presented a fascinating history that I was anxious to understand. With assistance from several helpful individuals, I began to discover what the music of Namibia included, in particuar the traditional music. I attended musical events, listened to a variety of CD’s and videos, researched in the Namibian National Archives and gradually gained a rudimentary understanding of the music, the instruments, and the cultural context.

I heard several traditional musical instruments, chanting, singing, other guttural sounds, ululation, and, as I expected, the use of repetition, call and response and complex rhythms common to most traditional African music. In some cases it was difficult to know what the songs were about, so translations were helpful. The songs often were related to traditional rituals, village life, and included dance and/or movement. I was surprised to find that choral music and singing were important throughout Namibia. German colonizers had brought the Lutheran choral heritage to Namibia in the late 1800’s and choirs were very popular in schools, churches and elsewhere. I heard influences from African traditional music in jazz and popular music.

Some research has been done on Namibia’s diverse musical culture, particularly by Minette Mans. As I searched the library at UNAM, it became clear that Namibians and others needed to know the stories about their musicians and to understand the rich music of their country. Music and art educators, especially, would benefit from more understanding of the history and musical content of their own music, not just music from the Western world.

My research focused on interviewing recommended Namibian musicians who were available for interviews. From their faculty offices at UNAM to a studio at the College of Arts, to a patio at a lodge in the desert and to the cottage where I lived in Windhoek, I found every interview fascinating and informative. The musician’s stories ranged from music’s role in the independence struggle, to village ritual music and dance, to international travel to perform and teach, to singing in church choirs and more. Most of the musicians had no opportunity to study and learn to read music, but were self taught or learned music by rote through listening. All of them felt it was important to preserve and utilize traditional musical ideas in their music.

The three themes which emerged from my research were: 1) preserving traditional Namibian musical ideas in the musician’s own music-making; 2) raising global awareness of the richness of Namibian music; and 3) expressing creativity in Namibian music as in improvisation. The stories of

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