Venda Music: Recorded Examples by John Blacking

John Blacking Venda Music

Per­form­ing group Thikundwi kha Sialala, Tshakhuma, Limpopo, South Africa, cour­tesy of Andrea Emberly, 2006

In 1973 John Blacking’s How Musi­cal Is Man? was pub­lished by Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton Press. Black­ing, an Eng­lish anthro­pol­o­gist and eth­no­mu­si­col­o­gist, had been invited to the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton as a Jessie and John Danz Lec­turer in 1971, and his series of talks became the basis for this pub­lished work. How Musi­cal Is Man? explores the role of music in soci­ety and cul­ture and, con­versely, the role of cul­ture and soci­ety in music. Black­ing draws on his field research with the Venda peo­ple of the North­ern Trans­vaal, South Africa as well as his own musi­cal back­ground to demon­strate the rela­tion­ships between pat­terns of sound and pat­terns of human orga­ni­za­tion inher­ent to all societies.

In response to requests for record­ings of the musi­cal exam­ples in How Musi­cal Is Man?, Black­ing pro­vided the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton Eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy Archives with an audio tape of sam­ples of his own record­ings of Venda music to make avail­able for dis­tri­b­u­tion. This music, along with Blacking’s accom­pa­ny­ing notes, are avail­able online as streamed audio here.