Browsing by Author "Makhathini, Nduduzo"
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- ItemBreaking into sound: dis/locating Ntu cosmology and improvisation in South African jazz(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2023-03) Makhathini, Nduduzo; Vos, Stephanie; Muller, Stephanus; Phalafala, Uhuru; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Department of Music.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This artistic-led enquiry emerged from the premise that jazz studies exclude or, at least, do not adequately address the significance of spiritualities in South African jazz. Where spirituality is invoked, it is treated as background and not seriously engaged with. Emerging from this premise, this study argues that there is a deep connection between cosmologies and how people come to sound, including in what is known as ‘jazz’. As a scholar and an artist with a mature practice, I have come to understand jazz, in the context outlined in this study, as a process in improvisatory realms that dialogues, intimately, with cosmology. Two chapters formulate ntu cosmology as point of departure for engaging (South) African worldviews, in which concepts of wholeness and continuity form governing principles. The study shows how an understanding of ntu cosmology provides alternative lexicons for engaging South African jazz improvised musics. It suggests that improvisation could be understood as a form of ritual overlapping between physical and metaphysical planes. This process is understood as the breaking into sound, engaging with ‘elsewhere’. The contributions this study makes to jazz scholarship are located in a) theorizing the breaking into sound, b) reading the bandstand as communal and ritual space, and c) proposing divination (or the throwing of the bones) as a different way to think about improvisation. To elaborate on these perspectives the study walks in the footsteps of four seminal artists (Philip Tabane, Busi Mhlongo, Bheki Mseleku and Zim Ngqawana), with whom I have engaged in various ways: as a disciple, band member, session musician and a keen follower of the music. From a decentering point of view, the positioning of the study as an artistic-led inquiry constitutes an epistemological intervention, making it possible to argue from a musical and artistic standpoint. By advancing, through artistic practice as a primary means of knowing, the importance of the spiritual (rather than ineffable, or transcendent, or sublime), means that one approaches the issue of musical meaning (or importance) through cosmological registers. Guided by the artistic aspects of my work and that of my interlocutors, the study constructs a framework for understanding jazz improvised musics in South Africa that is cosmologically, ontologically and epistemologically conscious.
- ItemEncountering Bheki Mseleku: a biographical-analytical consideration of his life and music(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2018-03) Makhathini, Nduduzo; Vos, Stephanie; Muller, Stephanus; Eato, Jonathan; Stellenbosch Unviersity. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Music.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis presents a study of one of the seminal figures in South African jazz, Bheki Mseleku (1955-2008). Born in South Africa, Mseleku is notable for his compositions, virtuosic pianism, recordings with leading jazz figures including Abbey Lincoln, Pharoah Sanders, and Joe Henderson, as well as his musical influence locally in South Africa and in London where he lived in exile. By drawing on journalistic accounts and interviews with Mseleku’s family members, fellow musicians and acquaintances, as well as my own perspectives as a performing jazz pianist, this thesis constitutes the first academic study of Mseleku’s life and music. The opening chapter documents Mseleku’s biography, drawing on disparate sources from print media and documentary film, alongside personal interviews. This provides the backdrop for the next two chapters, which explore two constitutive aspects of Mseleku's life and music: his exile from South Africa in the 1980s and early ’90s, and his deep spirituality. Chapter Two situates the sound of exile in Mseleku’s music, comparing his experiences and music with that of the earlier generation of South African exiles from the 1960s, particularly Louis Moholo. A consideration of his album, Home At Last (2003) plots the coordinates that inform the notion of “home” for Mseleku. I argue that exile, read against the notion of “home”, represents a disconnect from community, but also signals the turn from home as a physical space to home understood as a spiritual construct. The introduction of spirituality in this chapter opens onto a prolonged exploration of spirituality in Mseleku’s life and music. Chapter Three explores the diverse influences – from Mseleku’s Zulu upbringing and his engagement with Eastern spiritual practices – that shaped Mseleku’s conception of spirituality, and how these influenced his piano pedagogy and compositional style. Chapter Four is an analysis of Mseleku’s album Meditations (1992). Here I highlight the importance of spiritualism in his music, but also trace the other influences audible in his sound, including African music practices and American jazz. Stellenbosch University https://scholar.sun.ac.za 8 I close the thesis with my personal reflections on Mseleku, based on my experiences with his music and teachings through our brief friendship. It is my hope that this study lays the foundation for future scholarship on Mseleku, whose life and music has been neglected in South African jazz historiography.