Monday, November 16, 2009

Who sings the nation state?

If you haven't already heard the rendition of the South African National Anthem currently getting a lot of online attention, listen to the video below. But be warned: your ears may bleed.
I am currently working on a paper on the musical marketing of the upcoming soccer world cup in South Africa, and while this incident isn't directly related, I think I may try to find some way to work it in there. Funny and scary all at once.

Here is the Mail and Guardian report on current responses

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Ultimate Zoid

Karen Zoid launched her latest CD, a compilation of hits and new songs, on Tuesday night. Here is a new music video

and another

and a link to a brief article and a fabulous interview video
I wonder who the new song is directed at? I could make a few guesses. And isn't that still from the video stunning!?!

UPDATE 11 November 2009
This is an interesting commentary. I don't agree that Fokofpolisiekar were more revolutionary. Their music simply isn't as good, and their politics, while blatant, is not nearly as astutely directed. The revolution happened, I think, when people more willing to listen to Engel than Danville Diva began singing along with Aeroplane Jane. But the clips on this review are great!

UPDATE 15 November 2009
And here is another great review that includes one new and one old music video

UPDATE 24 November 2009
Listen to these interviews with Karen from SA TV programs Kwela, DKNT and All Access. She mentions my dissertation plans right at the end of the second! If any of my non-South African readers really want a translation, I'll write one, but it will take a while. Let me know in the comments. The final video is in English (though of course most of the music isn't).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

links for a guest lecture on my work

Did I mention before that I put together and taught a course this past summer called "The Music of New York"? If not, I should blog about that sometime.
Right now, though, that is long over, but I've been asked to do a guest-lecture for my friend Rachel's Art of Listening class on Thursday, and so this post is just to gather in one place some of the videos and etc that I plan to use.
World Map
Drakensberg Boys' Choir

Lebo M Rainmaker

Lebo M Power of One

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon

Paul Simon Father and Daughter (from the Wild Thornberries movie soundtrack)

Johnny Clegg and Juluka Impi

The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Tokens)

Solomon Linda's Evening Birds Mbube

Pete Seeger and the Weavers

Freshly Ground I'd Like

Karen Zoid Kaapstad

Karen Zoid Small Room

The Parlotones Colourful

Bok Van Blerk De La Rey

Klopjag Nie Langer (for the students who asked about this, this is an angry post apartheid song. I couldn't find the angry apartheid-era song I played in class today online, but I'll keep looking and post it, or something similar, when I find it.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Judge Satchwell

I'm busy preparing a post collecting media commentary and other related material on the ongoing Caster Semenye issue, but in the mean time, I just wanted to blog this news article because it outrages me that this is even a question. Seriously! The constitution of South Africa protects people from discrimination on the basis of sexuality, and yet at every turn someone is having to answer for their sexuality. Best of luck, Judge Satchwell. I'm proud that you're in our high-court.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Once again it's been too long since I last blogged. I sort of think I have an excuse this time, though. Since my last post, I successfully defended my dissertation proposal, taught a 6 week summer course on the "music of New York City" (that was such fun, and I really hope I have an opportunity to revise and reteach it), presented a paper at a conference in North Caroline, and another at a conference in Durban, visited my parents for several weeks, renewed my visa and began my fieldwork. I also, sadly, played the piano at my grandmother's funeral. It was really sad saying goodbye to her.
But this blog post is to be about happier things. Or funnier things, or something. As part of my fieldwork, I attended OppiKoppi from the 7 to 10 August. For those of you who don't know what OppiKoppi is, think hot, dusty farm, colonized by 15000 campers, and 4 stages hosting almost non-stop South African music for three days straight. OppiKoppi means "on the hill", or, with a little creative mishearing, "on the head". I got home very dirty, and sick with flu, but having heard more terrible, mediocre, and superb live music than I normally hear in a year, even here in NY. The highlights for me were Karen Zoid's superb show (the main reason I went in the first place), the Parlotones, who I'm now a serious fan of, after having listened with half an ear to the little bits they have on myspace up until now, a woman called Andra from Namibia, who has the most enigmatic and fascinating voice, and an intriguing group called the Arrows, who have a really cool female drummer. The festival would like to present itself as more diverse than it actually is (it's primarily white and Afrikaans), and the unavoidable clouds of cigarette smoke and drunk, high and crazy revelers who really couldn't care less about the music will probably discourage me from going again, but I'm very glad I did it at least once. The music was completely worth it, and I doubt I'll ever see so much representative South African rock in such a short space of time, again. There really are some great SA bands out there, and even if I'm way out on the periphery of the "scene", I'm falling more and more in love with the music the more of it I hear. Thank goodness for the internet, and the opportunity to hear so much of it here in steamy, summery New York.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that OppiKoppi was declared a national monument, and, more relevant to this blog, and I think more interesting overall, the plaques that make the declaration include Karen Zoid's lyrics "Ons Soek Rock n Roll Om Aan Vas Te Hou" (we want rock 'n roll to hold on to).

So here are a bunch of reviews of OppiKoppi
And some comments from revelers the day after.
Also some free mp3s (not, imo, the best, but fairly representative nonetheless).
And the festival's official website.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Funny business

The publicity which the Nandos ad featuring a puppet named Julius is receiving seems to have eclipsed the attention which this, much funnier ad deserves. I really love Evita Bezuidenhout. Perhaps when I finish my dissertation (and the subsequent book) on Karen Zoid, I should write a book on Evita.

Monday, April 13, 2009


This is the most thoughtful commentary on the recent Amazon debacle I have yet seen.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Afrikaners and South Africanness

Elections are such rich times for research. I just wish the official transcrips of Zuma's meeting last week actually included all the juicy bits. The document up on the ANC website leaves the best bits out (though no one thought to edit for grammar when they were cleaning the rest up).

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Real South Africans

Jacob Zuma is doing some serious sucking up ahead of the elections this month.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

some research resources

My dissertation proposal is still in development, and I'm not really ready to share too many details in this public forum, but as this remains a collection of resources for my proposal (despite its numerous other functions over its several years life-span), I decided today to link to some of what I'm currently reading.
First: The South African Gay and Lesbian Archives (GALA) at my undergraduate university's most beautiful library, the William Cullen Library, is absolutely going to be one of my archival sites over this summer, along with the South African Broadcasting Corporation Sound Archives (the website is very clunky and slow, mainly because it is huge, which is shocking considering the bandwidth issues in SA, but there you have it).
Second: This horrendous report on homophobic attacks on South African lesbians was released last month by Action Aid. Read it, sign the petition, and then spend some time, with me, exploring some of the organizations that are working with survivors: POWA, the Triangle Project, Behind the Mask, the Human Rights Commission, the Treatment Action Campaign, GEMSA, the Gender Equality Project.
Third: two books. Defiant Desire edited by Edward Cameron and Mark Gevisser, and Gender and Sexuality in South African Music edited by Stephanus Muller and Chris Walton.

So what does all of this have to do with South African music? I'm not quite ready to publicly join the dots yet, but come and hear me speak at the International Council for Traditional Music conference in Durban in July, or if you won't be in SA, at the 10th Feminist Theory and Music Conference in North Carolina in May, you'll get a glimpse at my project in development.

Monday, March 09, 2009

FAK Sangbundel

I am currently writing about the FAK Sangbundel in the lit review of my dissertation proposal. I consider myself something of a collector, and have a first edition of the book (a little worse for wear, but all the pages are intact), but not even that can exceed the novelty value of the entire current edition in Midi format. Click on the title for the words, or the music icon to the left of each title for the midi. Also, here is a list of editions and related books that is a great bibliographic resource.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Live Blogging

I just discovered live blogging. It is such fun to follow a news event as it unfolds. Just a pity I was following a complete embarrassment caused by some daft undergrads here at NYU, but at least it's over.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Excuse me, madam. Did you forget something?

So after that last vaguely apologetic post, blog topics (and time) are falling into my lap. let's see how long this lasts....
Last night, NYChoirgirl and I went to the Lincoln Center for a New York Philharmonic concert. We have a subscription, and didn't want to waste the tickets, but the snow that was still falling was making us waver. We decided to toss a coin. I like to think of coin tosses as an opportunity for the universe to weigh in. Last night, the universe told us to go. So we went.
The concert was up and down. I was baffled by the decision to program a Mozart Piano Concerto between the premier of a (1980) work by Tristan Murail and Messiaen's Exotic Bird Song composition, and the pianist's making a complete hash of the Mozart didn't help (his tempos and phrasings were eratic and his finger work was downright inaccurate!). But the Debussy, as ever, was sublime!
But it was on the way home, I'm convinced, that the universes motivation for sending us out into the snow was revealed. On the N train from Times Square, we encountered five people participating in the annual pantsless subway ride. At 10:30 at night. On the way to Queens. In the snow. It was utterly surreal.

Friday, January 09, 2009


This blog has been in a kind of a hiatus for the last few months, mainly because the semester, and all that goes with it, has gotten a bit on top of me. I don't know whether it will improve in the coming semester, but for now I don't really feel much like writing. Perhaps I'm a little burned out. Anyway, soon enough I'll be in serious writing mode (the proposal really must be finished by the end of this semester, and then it's on to the dissertation) and perhaps I'll begin posting again then. In the mean time, I'm going to enjoy the rest of my holiday, and the casual reading and copious crocheting and knitting that goes with it.