Growing into Music: A Study of Musical Enculturation in Oral Traditions. Follow on Project - Mali-Cuba: Music Across Generations.

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

Abstract

The proposed activities arise from work by the "Growing into Music" research team, documenting and analyzing childhood music acquisition and transmission in oral musical traditions. Our proposal addresses the theme: "Learning across and between the generations", by celebrating the historical connections that characterise Mali and Cuba's ongoing "trans-Atlantic conversations". "Mali-Cuba: music across generations" focuses through events in Havana and Bamako in November 2011 on two countries with exceptionally strong international musical profiles and a long history of connections. Our research in these two countries is pointing towards ways in which the links (both historical and contemporary) between Cuba and Mali may be illuminated by a closer look at how children acquire musical skills and knowledge in both countries. We will explore, develop and promote such connections through live performance and workshops involving children who are participating in our project, and thereby realise a greater and more direct impact for our research than originally envisaged.
"Growing into Music" has established a highly productive relationship with Caridad Diez, vice-president of UNEAC, the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (the leading cultural institution in Cuba). Our Havana festival will take place in front of live audiences from Cuba and virtual audiences further afield via the internet, through the intervention of the UK record company World Circuit. We will bring four Malian children to Havana, with a parent and/or guardian, and film the encounter between them and Cuban children, at home and on stage, with the participation of their parents and teachers. In Mali, there is a long-established history of Mali-Cuba relations, with a large community of Cubans living and working there. We will present our research in Mali via a smaller event in November 2011, involving musicians, key people from the cultural sector, the local press, and wider audiences.
The aims of our proposal are to: stimulate cross-cultural awareness by bringing together young musicians from Cuba and Mali to observe each other's acquisition processes, learn together in informal workshops, and perform in public; to publicise our work, present our films and research in Havana and Bamako; film the results and incorporate a selection of this into our final output; provide outlets for and raise awareness of "Growing into Music" via the music industry; inform audiences beyond academia of the significance of oral methods of training young children and exchanging of musical information across the generations. Our planned activities exemplify knowledge exchange; public engagement; dissemination and stimulation of new knowledge, as the project's researchers share ideas with and receive feedback from Cuban musicians and researchers, and as Cuban and Malian musicians study and perform together.
Our proposed festival exploits previously unforeseen pathways opened up by collaboration with Caridad Diez and UNEAC, who will be our Cuban partner; it projects this knowledge beyond the academic sphere in Cuba and Mali; and it encourages interactions and creative engagements between the project's researchers, Cuban and Malian musicians, cultural institutions in Havana and Bamako, and the UK record label World Circuit Records. The proposed activities will thus benefit a range of artists and institutions, as well as a wider audience at public music and film events, and we will document these benefits by filming and recording the festival in Havana and seminar in Bamako, and by making written records of discussions that take place and feedback that is offered. Our UK business partner will be World Circuit Records, who are particularly interested in the topic of inter-generational exchange and will disseminate information and output via the label's international publicity networks, bringing in audiences with an interest in Mali and Cuba from around the world.

Planned Impact

Our proposed festival and related activities stand to benefit a broad sector of society: from the institutional level (cultural organisations such as UNEAC), to the world music industry, the musical traditions in Mali and Cuba with which we are engaged, the families and children with whom we are working in particular, and world music audiences. The festival will highlight the transmission of skills, knowledge and repertoires across generations by demonstrating children's abilities and learning capacities, focusing primarily on public, non-academic activities such as performances, workshops and film-screenings. This will provide a showcase for our "Growing into Music" study of musical acquisition amongst children in these two great musical cultures.
Our project will encourage interactions and creative engagements between the project's researchers, Cuban and Malian musicians, cultural institutions in Havana and Bamako, and the UK record label World Circuit Records. We therefore expect our project to have a positive impact on creativity in Havana and Bamako and on longer-term institutional recognition of and support for traditional music on a local level. We will document these creative outputs and benefits by filming and recording the festival in Havana and seminar in Bamako, and by making written records of discussions that take place and feedback that is offered.
Our event is very likely to have benefits for the traditions concerned, which are in various states of transition from orality to fixity and globalisation. Experience has shown that festivals and record labels can contribute hugely to the promotion and continuity of fragile musical cultures. With the current interest from audiences worldwide in both Malian and Cuban music, the specific Mali-Cuba focus of our proposed activities ensures that our work will reach a far wider public than originally envisaged. This impact will be greatly enhanced by the participation of our partners, in particular World Circuit Records in the UK, which will publicize our event and disseminate our outputs via a dedicated page on its website, its newsletter, mailing list and blog, and social media.

Publications

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Baker G. (2013) Mali-Cuba.com, website

 
Description The purpose of Mali-Cuba: music across generations was to follow on from the original Growing into music project by drawing together two musical cultures we were looking at that had obvious connections. The project was intended to create musical encounters between children of the two cultures in the form of workshops and concerts. It began with a concert of some 32 Malian children at the Malian National Museum, which drew an audience of several hundred spectators and provided the first ever public platform for Mali's children from the specialised hereditary 'castes'. This revealed the sophisticated level of musical performance that these children were capable of, and also was motivating for both children and adults. The project then moved to Cuba, taking four Mande children from Mali, ages 7-14 and one musical adult/guardian (the labyrinthic administrative logistics on both sides of visas and permissions to make this happen were a discovery in their own right!). The many workshops and presentations that followed in Havana and Matanzas allowed the four Malians to meet their Cuban counterparts and to explore common ground, especially in terms of drumming and rhythms such as the use of 'clave'. They also explored differences in melody and themes of songs, and the Malians had their first experience of performing as a quartet, in public, acting as ambassadors for their culture. All this took place at a crucial moment in Malian history, coinciding with the coup d'etat that took place on March 22, 2012, highlighting the instability of Malian politics and its potential impact on culture.
Exploitation Route There is considerable interest in Cuba from UNEAC (the Union of Cuban artists and writers) and UNICEF in developing further Mali-Cuba collaborations. There is also potential in doing the same kind of musical encounter between children of other cultures in Growing into Music, for example, Azerbaijan and India. We are currently updating the website with more material from the project
Sectors Creative Economy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://mali-cuba.com
 
Description The findings were intended to be workshops and concert performances. They were incorporated into the opening of the Teatro Miramar in Havana, organised and funded by World Circuit Records, the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, and the Kirsty MacColl Music Fund for Cuba. They were publicised on all three websites
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Mali-Cuba: music across generations - collaboration with the music industry 
Organisation World Circuit Records
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We contributed a hgh-profile concert of Malian and Cuban children to an event funded by World Circuit records - the opening of a refurbished theatre Teatro Miramar, in Havana Cuba, March 2012
Collaborator Contribution World Circuit Records together with Cuba Solidarity organised and sponsored a high-profile event to open the newly refurbished Teatro miramar. They also publicised the project and website for Mali-Cuba: music across generations on the World Circuit website, www.worldcircuit.co.uk, which has over a million viewers
Impact dedicated website, http://mali-cuba.com
Start Year 2012
 
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 Casa de África, (the Africa Museum) in Havana, Cuba: Mali-Cuba inauguration event 
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 inauguration of the Mali-Cuba project in Cuba at the Casa de Africa included a musical performance in front of African diplomats and the general public, involving the first encounter between the Malian and Cuban children who had participated in Growing into Music, followed by a donation to the Museum of a musical instrument from Mali. It was attended by members of various African embassies as well as Cuban cultural policy makers and members of the public

The Casa de Africa personnel have remained in touch and requested information on children's hand-clapping songs from Mali
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://mali-cuba.com
 
Description Concerts and workshops held in Mali and Cuba with musical children 
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 Over a period of two months (Jan - march 2012) we provided a series of workshops and concerts in both Mali and Cuba, to showcase the Growing into music project and contribute to musical exchange and better understanding of common musical roots shared by both countries among children and adults. The audiences were members of the public, including extended families of the children involved, as well as key policy makers in Cuba. The concerts raised awareness of African music and the importance of oral transmissions.
A website with a blog, documenting with text, photos, and video, the encounters between four Malian children and their musical mentor and guardian, Lassana Diabate, with children who participated in the Growing into Music project. The website

We have been asked to participate in more workshops and music conferences in Cuba and Mali. The World Circuit website followed our events during 2012 and reached over 1 million viewers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://mali-cuba.com
 
Description Cuban TV music programme "El Termómetro," live televised performance by Malian children from Mali-Cuba project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact "El Termometro" is a popular live television programme in Cuba featuring youth music. The four Malian children who went to Cuba for the project "Mali-Cuba: Music across generations" were invited on to the show to talk about the project and then to perform music from Mali. The performance stimulated discussion and further invitations

More workshops with Cuban musical children
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://mali-cuba.com
 
Description Djeli den foli (les enfants des familles griots mandingues). Concert at the National Museum of 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 Public concert Jan 5-6, 2012 in the Jeudi Musicaux series, at the National Museum of Mali, Bamako, Mali. Featuring performances by 30 Malian musical children from most of the participant families in Growing into Music, in front of an audience of several hundred people. This event, supported by the National Museum, included screenings of Growing into Music films on Mali and Cuba by Geoff Baker and Lucy Durán, at both the National Museum and at the Conservatoire des Arts "Balla Fasseke Kouyate". The concert received the largest audience of any Museum concert event

This was the first concert ever held at the National Museum of Mali that featured young children from griot families, and has created a space for a new series focusing on children playing music at the Museum, sponsored by the Aga Khan Music Initiative, to commence in Jan 2015.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://mali-cuba.com