Growing into Music: a multicultural study of musical enculturation in oral traditions

Lead Research Organisation: School of Oriental & African Studies
Department Name: Music

Abstract

Children who grow up in oral musical contexts such as the families of hereditary musical specialists commonly learn the body-language of music before they learn music itself. Throughout infancy and childhood they absorb the mannerisms of performance practice and the physical and social graces befitting of musicians. Learning music is accomplished by osmosis and imitation, largely without conscious intent. Children develop an unselfconscious musical confidence born of inherited or deeply-nurtured authority. Very little has been written about the processes of childhood music acquisition in the oral traditions of non-European cultures. There is a pressing need to study these processes before they are overwhelmed by the institutionalisation of music-teaching and globalisation.

This project will document and analyse oral music acquisition and transmission, conducting a detailed exploration of the processes by which children in diverse cultures become musicians, beginning with passive exposure in infancy and culminating in adolescent participation in public performance. We will consider our findings in the context of the belief, widely-held in such cultures, that these learning processes are intrinsic to the strength and depth of these highly-specialised traditions, which in all cases are central expressions of regional/national identity.

We are a team of five ethnomusicologists, each of whom specialises in particular geographic areas and ethnic groups. Being accomplished performers of musics from these areas will greatly facilitate our fieldwork. Each of us also has qualifications and experience in other relevant disciplines including music education, cognitive psychology, psychotherapy, film-making, popular music studies, music production, and broadcasting-perspectives which will contribute to the comprehensiveness of our study.

We will study musical childhoods amongst: Mande jeli (griot) musicians of Mali and Senegal; Langa and Manganiyar folk musicians of Rajasthan; hereditary accompanists in the art music tradition of North India; ashiq bards and classical mugam musicians of Azerbaijan; kharabatian musicians of Afghanistan; rumba musicians of Western Cuba; and the música llanera harp tradition of Venezuela, an oral tradition which both contrasts with and feeds into the more formal pedagogy of Venezuela's world-famous youth orchestras. We will observe and film the same children 'growing into music' over two years, making three fieldwork trips to each country.

These cultures have been chosen because they all have strong, relatively intact, oral traditions. They present fascinating differences with regard to the centrality of hereditary transmission, their positions on the continuum between art and folk music, the relative proportions of active transmission and passive acquisition, the balance between memorisation and improvisation, and the degree of mediation by musical literacy, institutionalisation, and globalisation.

We will produce:

1. a collection of essays for the SOAS Musicology Series examining each musical culture in detail and investigating their commonalities.

2. a series of five educational DVDs

3. a film for television (with the collaboration of an award-winning documentary film-maker)

4. a programme for BBC Radio 3's World Routes.

Workshops for schoolchildren, video-based talks and film-screenings will be hosted by the Asian Music Circuit and the October Gallery, and by institutions in our research countries, promoting awareness of these threatened oral traditions.

Our work will benefit both academics and the wider public. It will address a crucial gap in the ethnomusicological literature and be of interest to scholars in the fields of music cognition and pedagogy, developmental studies, and anthropology. It will appeal to those with interests in world music, world culture, and the education of children, and will be of particular relevance to diasporic communities in the UK.
 
Description The Growing into Music research documents through film how children learn traditional music in five countries that have very different musical traditions and contrasting approaches to learning and teaching. In the course of filming we began to be aware of particular issues, such as the role of family-based versus institutional teaching. We had assumed that the latter would counteract orality, but we found that this did not have to be the case, for example in Azerbaijan. We also challenged the prevailing notion that hereditary (ascribed) musicians in North Indian classical music produced higher quality artists than in non-hereditary (achieved) cases . We found that in many traditions, peer learning (horizontal, rather than vertical) was as effective and important as one-to-one teacher/pupil learning. We were able to document how geographical location (neighbourhoods; regions; urban vs rural) impacted on musical transmission, and we examined the role of gender and age in the assigning of musical tasks and repertoires, and ways in which this is changing in the 21st century.
We looked at notions of progress and how these are described and measured in various cultures (often not in any obvious linear way), and we examined the roles of modern technology (recordings, internet, mobile phones) in oral transmission today, which are often eschewed in discourse but in reality are integral to modes of learning in all the societies we studied. Another significant finding was the fact that in many instances, children are not corrected if they make mistakes; adults consider that the most important thing is for children to acquire confidence through the embodiment of music, and will then correct themselves and their peers.
All these findings are relevant and provide important insights for music education in general.
An overall finding from the project is that oral transmission of musical traditions is adapting better to the conditions of the 21st century than often presumed.
Our films (particularly the films on Mali) are being widely screened at festivals making an important impact on general audiences beyond specialist forums.
Two important new projects have arisen from this work:

1. Duran has been awarded (as co-partner) a British Academy Senior Newton Fellowship with CIESAS, Mexico, to conduct a similar type of music project as Growing into Music, working with Afro-Mexican communities in Oaxaca. This project is now entering its second year and initial results can be see on the websites:
www.facebook.com/Somosnegrosdelacosta twitter.com/negrosdelacosta
vimeo.com/somosnegrosdelacosta
flicker.com/photos/negrosdelacosta

2. The Aga Khan Music Initiative (Aga Khan Development Network) has initiated a series of free concerts at the National Museum of Mali featuring musical children; the series is entitled 'Jeudis musicaux des enfants' and is curated by Duran
http://maliactu.net/mali-jeudis-musicaux-des-enfants-un-plateau-pour-les-talents-en-herbe/
Exploitation Route Duran is working on collaborations with music educators in Canada, Mexico and the UK, to find ways in which findings from Growing into Music films can be exploited in a productive way in music education internationally, at both child and adult levels.
A follow-on grant is currently being planned to film the musical progress and status of some of the protagonists of the original Mali films, and possibly extend the project into work on musical families in Senegal and Guinea Bissau.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://growingintomusic.co.uk
 
Description Though inevitably limited by its time scale of three years, "Growing into music" manifests potential for the future, and also leaves an important legacy. It has undoubtedly "generated new questions and research and ... provide[d] a platform for future investigations"; in Cuba, for example, national and international cultural institutions (UNEAC, CIDMUC, UNICEF) have expressed great interest in continuing such research and have been active partners in our Cuban research as well as our follow-on project, Mali-Cuba: music across generations". Though we started with the intention of merely documenting the process of musical acquisition in oral traditions, our work in some cases has acquired a spirit of advocacy. This has emerged out of "serendipitous" collaborations with several institutions that were not envisaged and that have come about during the course of our work. Three are singled out for mention here. 1 Collaboration with Mali's National Museum. In Mali, in the last year of the project, we forged a close and important relationship with the cultural programme of the National Museum, showcasing the musical art of children in their 'jeudis musical' series. 2 Collaboration with The Aga Khan Music Initiative. Duran has forged a major new collaboration with the Aga Khan Music Initiative which has many very active and influential projects with the music of the Middle East and Central Asia. They approached Durán as a result of her Growing into Music work, asking her to advise on music policies in Mali. Under Durán's guidance, this has included an outreach element with concerts at the Theatre de la Ville in Paris, and a major collaboration between Malian musicians and the Kronos Quartet. 3 Collaboration with Cary Diez - rumba as "Cuban National Heritage". In Cuba, Baker's filming of children learning the highly expressive art of rumba - a form of music and dance mainly associated with Afro-Cuban communities in Havana and Matanzas - has similarly led to an important and productive collaboration with Cary Diez, one of the most influential figures in the world of Cuban music. Cary is Vice President of UNEAC (Union of Cuban Writers & Artists) a member of CIDMUC (the Centre for Research & development of Cuban Music), and president of Cubadisco, a major international annual festival and trade fair for the Cuban and Latin American recording industry. Baker's films of children learning traditional rumba in context contributed to Diez's push for Rumba to be awarded the official status of Cuban National Heritage, and is part of her submission for rumba to be designated by UNESCO as a site of World Intangible Heritage of Humanity. In accordance with Beyond Text's "aims to enhance connections between those who make and preserve works and those who study them, bridging divides that have often hampered effective scholarship, policy debates and discussion", our work has stimulated, to varying degrees in different cultures, an exchange of knowledge between the world of academic scholarship and back into the communities it is researching. Several of the musicians and musical families we have been working with have acknowledged that they had not previously given much thought to the importance of transmitting their knowledge to the young generation, and were inspired by our work to be more pro-active. One of these was Ana Pérez of Matanzas (one of the members of the legendary rumba group Muñequitos de Matanzas), who has now created her own school, Mordella y sus Raíces, which currently has 60 students from the ages of 2-16, and teaches both rumba and the music and dances of Afro-Cuban religions. Some of the Malian children filmed are now becoming highly accomplished performers, eg Ami Diabate, grand daughter of Bako Dagnon (featured in 'The Voice of Tradition'. By showing our films in a variety of settings, to musicians, institutions, and to the children and families we have been working with, we have raised awareness of the importance of passing on oral traditions between generations, and of some of the issues that commonly affect this. Furthermore, the screening of our films has also contributed to an awareness among the children we have been studying of other musical cultures in our project. Despite the huge differences between the musics of, for example, Rajasthan and Mali, our work has demonstrated that there are important commonalities in the methods of transmission, which contribute to making the broader aspects of our work more accessible to new audiences, especially children. Our films have been shown in primary and secondary schools in the UK, Mexico, and the countries where we filmed.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description 'Jeudis musicaux des enfants' - a monthly concert featuring young talented children at the National Museum of Mali, 2015-17 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Jeudis Musicaux des Enfants is an ongoing initiative created out of the success of the children's concert held at the beginning of our 'Mali-Cuba' (Beyond Text) project in Bamako, Mali at the prestigious National Museum. It showcases the important work of individual families in maintaining musical traditions in Mali through oral transmission to the new generation. There is almost no provision for music education in schools in the country and so this initiative in important and has a high media profile. It was originally intended to follow on directly from our first concert but political events in the country from March 2012 resulted in the National Museum closing its cultural activities. In 2015 we were able to resume the initiative of children's concerts, under the curatorship of Lucy Duran and supported by the Aga Khan Music Initiative (Aga Khan Trust for Culture). The concerts are free and attract audiences of 500 or more, including many children.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017
URL http://notrenation.com/?Musee-national-du-Mali-Denmesenw
 
Description Film screening, 'Growing into Music', Ateliers d'Ethnomusicologie (Geneva, Switzerland), 'Trans-mission: les passeurs du musique' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The comparative Growing into Music film was presented by Duran and then screened in its entirety at Trans-mission, an international symposium / musical event in Geneva, dedicated to the topic of oral transmission. Afterwards there was much lively debate about the comparative aspect of the film

The film will be incorporated into teaching resources at the Ateliers d'Ethnomusicologie in Geneva, the main place to study world music in Switzerland
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.adem-geneve.com/fr/trans-mission
 
Description Film screening, 'Growing into Music', Ateliers d'Ethnomusicologie (Geneva, Switzerland), 'Trans-mission: les passeurs du musique' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The comparative Growing into Music film was presented by Duran and then screened in its entirety at Trans-mission, an international symposium / musical event in Geneva, dedicated to the topic of oral transmission. Afterwards there was much lively debate about the comparative aspect of the film

The film will be incorporated into teaching resources at the Ateliers d'Ethnomusicologie in Geneva, the main place to study world music in Switzerland
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.adem-geneve.com/fr/trans-mission
 
Description Growing into Music film screenings with Geoffrey Baker & Lucy Duran, Ethnomusicology seminar, Oxford University, May 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Lively discussion about methodologies of filming and key findings

enquiries about Growing into Music from participants
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://pittrivers-sound.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/growing-into-music-ethnomusicology.html
 
Description Havana International film festival 2012 film screening 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Screening of Geoffrey Baker's film Creciendo dentro de la música - en la sangre, en la casa, en la escuela, en la calle. Children and their families attended and were encouraged to continue work on oral transmission

The film was shown twice at the festival and many of the musicians who participated in the film were in the audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.growingintomusic.co.uk
 
Description International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The film 'Growing into Music in Azerbaijan' was screened following a presentation by the director, Dr Baghirova, at the ICTM (International Council of Traditional Music) international conference, held in Astana, Kazakhstan, 16-22 July, 2015
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Música de Cuba International Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, film screening 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Screening of Geoff Baker's film on Cuban rumba: "Matanzas: Growing into Music".

further invitations to screen Growing into music films at international conferences
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.growingintomusic.co.uk
 
Description Paper on Growing into Music in Mali, 22nd European Association for Music in Schools, Nicosia, Cyprus 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Duran presented some key findings from Growing into Music in Mali and made connections with recent trends of informal music education such as that of 'Musical Futures', with much interest from many different music education sectors

Ongoing discussions with music educators (including Prof Lucy Green at the Institute of Education) about how to draw on ideas from Growing into Music; possible collaboration to edit a joint film for 'Musical Futures
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.eas-music.org/fr/activities/eas-conferences/2014-nicosia-cy/programme/
 
Description Paper on Growing into Music in Mali, 22nd European Association for Music in Schools, Nicosia, Cyprus 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Duran presented some key findings from Growing into Music in Mali and made connections with recent trends of informal music education such as that of 'Musical Futures', with much interest from many different music education sectors

Ongoing discussions with music educators (including Prof Lucy Green at the Institute of Education) about how to draw on ideas from Growing into Music; possible collaboration to edit a joint film for 'Musical Futures
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.eas-music.org/fr/activities/eas-conferences/2014-nicosia-cy/programme/
 
Description Paper on Growing into Music in Mali, 9th international conference of the Mande Studies Association, Burkina Faso, June 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Many scholars were unaware of Growing into Music as a resource, and there was discussion about how to ensure more government support for teaching musical traditions in schools in Mali

The paper, which included clips from the film, was part of a panel entitled 'Growing into Knowledge in the 21st century' which looked at oral transmission across a number of crafts in West Africa. The presenters on the panel discussed ways of collaborating, and editing a Mande studies Journal on the theme of Oral Transmission of Knowledge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://mandestudies.org
 
Description Picturing oral transmission: Music, language and diversity in Senegal and Mali 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The AHRC award-winning film 'The Voice of Tradition: Bako Dagnon and her family' directed by Lucy Duran was screened in front of an audience at SOAS's Khalili Theatre as part of an event, 'SOAS-created AHRC-awarded films on enduring cultural and linguistic practices in West Africa'. on March 8, 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation of 'Growing into Music in Azerbaijan' and workshop on Oral Transmission at the Escuela Nacional de Musica, University of Mexico 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Duran's talk (Sept 2014) and film screening of Growing into music in Azerbaijan in Mexico City, prepared the ground for a concert tour of Mexico by some leading Azeri artists, and also focused on the importance of oral transmission of traditional music. The Escuela Nacional de Musica does not include the study of any Mexican traditional music and the students were extremely receptive to ideas about music education of traditional music selected in the Growing into Music film.

Students have been in touch with Duran asking for further information and lists of publications. The invitation to give the talk came from the Mexican record company Discos Corason who posted information about the talk on Facebook.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL https://en-gb.facebook.com/DiscosCorason
 
Description Screening of Growing into Music films at the Noborder Festival and Colloque, Brest, France 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Screening of 'Growing into Music' (the composite film) and 'Da Kali: the pledge to the art of the griot' as key aspects of the festival and Colloque, which focused on Oral Transmission of traditional musics from around the world.
Colloque : 'La transmission et l'enseignement des musiques de tradition orale. Transmettre, enseigner, apprendre, reproduire, imiter, voler :
quels choix et pourquoi ?'
http://drom-kba.eu/Colloque-La-transmission-et-l.html
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.festivalnoborder.com/colloque-2
 
Description VII International Musicology Colloquium at the Casa de Las Américas, Havana, Cuba. Music performance and film screening 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The four Malian children who were selected to take part in the Mali-Cuba: music across generations project, together with their musical mentor, Lassana Diabate, gave a performance of Malian music for the delegates of the conference, and clips of the Growing into Music in Mali films were shown and discussed.

This was the first time Malian music had been presented at the conference, and the professional standard of the performance of the Malian children aged 7-14 generated significant discussion about oral transmission
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://mali-cuba.com