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Article: claudia wegener,

REMIXING AFRICAN ORAL HISTORY

A “REMIX TREE” of the DURBAN SINGS rough radio mix: re-tracing an on-line archive as audio map to a collective project & open producer network

  • DURBAN SINGS audio media & oral history -

    The motor of the DURBAN SINGS project has been the close cross-cultural collaboration between Molefi Mafareka Ndlovu, community research scholar at the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) Durban SA, and Claudia Wegener, a visiting scholar from the University of the Arts London, and their shared enthusiasm for and experience in organising collective audio radio projects as artist-activists in Africa and Europe.

    Through the DURBAN SINGS project, based at the university (UKZN) as a CCS outreach initiative, the artists extended their collaboration to 50 young people from 12 Durban community organizations which after 9 month are now trained and networked as editorial collectives of micro-media hubs in their local organizations and areas.

    The project included training in recording, interviews, audio-editing, oral history and IT skills; oral history data-collection, on-line and off-line archiving, project management, public presentations, networking, blog-editing, and broadcasts. The result is an extensive on-line audio archive (uploaded under creative commons share-alike license at http://www.archive.org ) and collections of oral history interviews from Clermont, Folweni, Inanda, Ntuzuma, Marianridge, Mzinyathi, Umlazi and the inner city all networked via their own blogs, a 'switch-board blog' and a 'community portal' at the CCS web-site.

  • DURBAN SINGS audio media & oral history -

    click here to listen to workshop recording
    first audio media & oral history workshop of the DURBAN SINGS project Feb. 2009
    click here for the playlist (part 1); part 2; more information: Puma.Creative

Audio compositions or radio programmes are often the result of conversations & collaborative processes between many people. As composed creative productions, they are also analytical constructs based on a journey of research, arranged from multiple source collections & shaped by editorial decisions. A final composition brings a complex archive to the ears of listeners in one condensed moment of hearing: an event, a performance, a broadcast. The archive of a final production is double; containing the content of its sources & the journey of its making which has taken the sources through many stages of “re-mixing”.

At an event of listening, ears can follow & enjoy an “audio movie”, or zoom-in on stories, issues, histories, songs, drama, characters, ambience or voices which make their appearance on the audio stage of a composition ("dramaturgy of listening"). Trained ears may also “hear” the archive, or parts of it, which the final, remixed production features.

A “remix tree” can offer one model how the archive of a production, which a trained ear may hear & decipher could become audible & accessible to more listeners via a graphic representation. It’s a static & linear, simplified & superficial model by comparison to the complex journey of a production & the delicate zooming-in operations which listening can perform to perceive and evaluate audio content.

The “remix tree” could yet perhaps serve as an entry point of awareness to listening & audio production in general; and a collective production of history & of media in particular; an entry point perhaps also to the opportunities which education in audio media literacy may offer. Such skills training forms a vital core of the collective projects quoted here (more on audio media skills-training also in “I & EAR”).

The conversations, collaborative processes, collective projects & producer organizations which speak through a composition like the DURBAN SINGS rough radio mix are ongoing, continuing with their own work elsewhere on the branches of a complex network. The mix is itself only one "bud" of many on a large tree, one product of an authored listening among many others (see DURBAN SINGS blog for contributions send back to the project: “letters & remixes”).



on-line publications of successive edits

DURBAN SINGS rough radio mix : soundtrack of on-line AV publication (13:45); Jan. 2011) at “An Ear on the Ground”, AV channel of radio continental drift

DS rough radio mix (13:33; Dec. 2009) in “Playing with Words” compilation on Grünrecorder (released Dec. 2010) link to page for free downloads

re-edit of: DS rough radio mix "call for contributions" (12:47) (Oct. 2009) listen

re-edit of: call for contributions 1 (2:17) (May 2009) : listen


Travel-log of a remix

The DURBAN SINGS rough radio mix was first published on www.archive.org in Oct. 2009 (12:47) as part of a “call for contributions” to the project. It tells the/ a story of the DURBAN SINGS audio media & oral history project, a story of local content production, the collective production of history & of media.

“We want the voices to explode all over.” The composition makes parts of the process, vision, idea & realization of the DS project heard by re-mixing from the archives uploaded by the participating collectives & from other related on-line archives; while, being at once a precursor, a “rough mix” of the very story it tells. The vision of “free air”, audio radio correspondence & collective media productions among people at “grassroots level” are to a large extend still to come and to take place; but – they are on the move, literally, on the road, growing stronger already “underground”. Trained ears may hear the message; and, perhaps, respond.

The sound track of the AV trailer is a re-worked & extended version (13:33) of the earlier edit, completed in Durban & Windhoek in Dec. 2009. The trailer owes its name to the audio track it hosts. Video footage of was recorded on a mobile phone at the time of re-editing the mix; it captures a West/ East continental crossing from Swakopmund on the Atlantic Ocean in Namibia, across Botswana and South Africa, via Johannesburg to Durban on the Indian Ocean.

The second editing process began with the London artist Terry Mac (Trunkstore), a friend & co-producer of the NO-GO-ZONES audio radio project, sending me the audio file of a BBC 4 programme to Durban: “The Reunion”; a special edition produced in Capetown; “Nelson Mandela Release”, broadcast in Sep. 2009. Terry Mac asked me in his e-mail what I think about the programme. As an answer, I sent him a “Reunion Mix” which then became a “preface” (first 3mins) & starting point of the re-worked “rough radio mix”.

Explore & Use the Archived Audio:

"REMIX TREE" of the DURBAN SINGS rough radio mix:


Original, full-length recordings featured & re-mixed in the sound track can be accessed, downloaded & used under creative commons share-alike license. They are archived on http://www.archive.org as part of a conversational journey & audio media “road-work-shops” in the streets of Africa, which began in 2007 with the NO-GO-ZONES audio radio project in South London, continued in Durban South Africa, & recently in Kenya & Uganda. The clips are archived in series of playlists linked to the projects with the invitation to global listeners to explore & use the archived recordings. Comments, responses & questions of listeners - in writing or audio - can feed the fire of the conversations & the on-going work of the producer collectives where ever they are. Re-broadcasts or re-mixes can become a starting point for correspondence.
Do get in touch if these words & songs strike a common cord.
Thank you for listening!

a list of artists & organizations involved
a picture archive


DURBAN SINGS: PRE-RELEASE COMPILATION, July 2009 (playlists 1 – 5)
a CD playlist of 43 samples (76:00) link to page on project blog

edited from: the DS oral history footage archive

Abasha
playlist 3 10 there’s a future in this place (1:55) listen
playlist 4 01 we are unhappy (2:28) listen

Chatsworth
playlist 4, 09 Chatsworth clip mix (1:44) listen
An African Diwali, 01 Biriyani for 3000 (4:37) listen

Community Media Desk (CMD)
playlist 2, 04 Memories of the area (1:14) listen
05 Our security (2:11) listen

Imisebenzi Yentsha
playlist 4, 07 Margaret Vilakazi Lembede (2:28) listen
08 Efsquad clip (1:14) listen

Mariannridge Coordinating Committee (MCC)
playlist 3, 04 Esodora DeBruin - the story teller (2:58) listen
05 Joyce Anderson - the one who knows her roots (1:06) listen
06 Shirely Ricks_the next CEQ (2:56) listen

Malungisa Youth Development (MYD)
playlist 1, 03 Formation of Qadi clan (2:05) listen

Ubuntu Babasha
playlist 1, 06 Councillor – Area of Cosmokind (1:12) listen
09 Clermont heritage_Khaya Nxumalo (2:42) listen
playlist of clips for SAfm “Afternoon talk” 05 Peter “Africa” (0:34) listen

Umlazi Youth Organisation
playlist 4, 03 Sbuso Tony Ndlovu (3:25) listen

Youth in Action
playlist 2, 08 Maria Cele (2:21) listen

ALBERT PARK recordings
playlist of songs, 08 Light on Africa song (2:50) listen
playlist of mini-clips, 01 Anna and Pendeza clip 2 (0:36) listen
Becken's story, 10 another love song (2:48) listen
Becken & Delphin, 05 singing crying and dancing (2:03) listen
Albert Park picket, 05 imbizo picketing 2 (1:10) listen
09 no-air song (1:57) listen
Municipal “clean-up”, 01 where did this instruction come from (2:47) listen;
02 I failed to comply orders (1:08) listen

DENNIS BRUTUS
playlist, 07 learning by remembering (2:59) listen,
06 the future South Africa (3:34) listen

FAITH KA MANZI
playlist, 01 Faith for complete freedom (3:04) listen

ORAL HISTORY WORKSHOP
playlist 1, 00 DS jingle African roots (0:25) listen;
playlist 2, 10 area poems day 3 (4:00) listen;
05 three songs interview (3:52) listen;
19 DS jingle contemporary take 2 (0:24) listen

RASAfm
playlist, 05 Thiza and Thabo_RASA beyond authorities (2:08) listen

RENE TSHIAKANYI
playlist, 03 another song in the park (1:20) listen;
06 Song for Journalists (4:18) listen

LETTERS FROM JOZI
"audio-photo-graphics" playlist, 03 audio movies in transit (5:01) listen

LETTERS FROM WINDSOR CA
Skype lecture 1, 01 Hallo connecting (5:08) listen

"SOUND-SCAPE-RHYTHMS" LIVE ON-AIR RE-MIXES
on cjam99.1fm

DS & Underground Resistance
playlist, DURBAN SINGS and Underground Resistance 4 (8:11) listen

Re-mix of: Gideon and Delphin 2 (1:27) listen

Bar Talk Remix (Similo Gobingca)
playlist, 02-cjam-090610-similo-remix (32:15) listen

Re-mix of: Downtown Bar, 05 the story of the Arc (4:28) listen; 01 why Berea Bar (3:06) listen

December Remix of DS pre-release playlist
playlist (54:50), Soundscape_Rhythms-3Dec09 listen

re-mix of: pre-release playlist 4, Musolu mini clip awesome Africa (0:31) listen

On-line source: “Awesome Africa” collection: Side 1, 02 Musolu, Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali Vol. 4 Musolu listen

NO-GO-ZONES audio radio project (NGZ) Puma.Creative

Intercontinental links & extraordinary radio projects
(1:01:59) Weedworks & Trunkstore live skype show on Resonance fm listen

NGZ on open-air radio SOAS
(remix by Trunkstore; entire show removed from open air website)
playlist, OPEN AIR A sound of no go zones (4:59) listen
OPEN AIR B sound of no go zones (7:45) listen

Radio communities (RASAfm)
playlist, 04 basis of civilisation (4:44) listen
01 terrains of contest (4:10) listen
02 media as a tool for community development (2:38) listen

Reports from the Studio Bus
at “Cooltan Arts”: Matshepo Motsoeneng
playlist, July18 Matshepo's harp (2:56) listen

off-line footage archives

Glenwood night, field recording RCD
Uschwini night, field recording by Motho
Transit to Jo’burg, field recording Mandisa M. Ledwaba
footage recordings DURBAN SINGS Pan-African Wolpe Lecture Event 16 July 2009
footage recording DURBAN SINGS Digital Soiree Digital Arts Wits 24 March 2009
footage recording Abasha Talent Show Event 2 May 2009 Inanda New Town
footage recordings Southern Africa Social Forum, Swaziland, Oct. 2008
footage recording NO-GO-ZONES interview with Tunde Adegbola, Brixton UK 2008

other archives:

BBC radio 4: "The Reunion", “Nelson Mandela Release” (45:00); special edition from Capetown SAfm studios: "Sue MacGregor reunites key players involved in the secret talks to free Nelson Mandela."



Archiving African Culture - Re-mixing the archives?


“Tradition is not a body of beliefs but a knowledge of skills;” said the English poet Herbert Read.

The “remix tree” sketched out here could also be understood as a case study or entry point to such questions as how libraries & collection of African cultural heritage could not only open the doors to their resources, but also care to build the infrastructure & education needed for the people “on the ground” to reach & access the “open resources”; how producers could link back to the initial conversations & to collective efforts involved in a production, in such a way that the production may serve as a mobile micro-archive, guide & key to its sources & related networks; how producers could share their skills & resources; and transform a journey of making a production into parts of a future communication infrastructure for/ to its sources, transport the sources as a vehicle for sharing & networking, activating listening & audiences.

The “rough radio mix” sings & amplifies what the DURBAN SINGS project strives to test & realise “on the ground” through training & local productions: a call to explore ways & develop sites for contextualised research & a community-based archiving linked to new productions of African culture by the people themselves, who are living, remembering, practicing & developing the culture locally & out of their everyday life where ever they are.

Such processes could provide Africans & “Northerners” alike with new ways & understanding of “archiving”; ways which, for example, might be more suitable to the flow, continuity & mobility of oral cultures & traditions; new forms of collections, archives & libraries which might possibly be quite at odds with the standardising, transcendental, de-contextualising, dematerialising tradition of a “safeguarded” shelving & stocking; new archives of African culture initiated & driven by its producers where cultural productions don’t leave “the hands” of the people of whose communication infrastructure they continue to form a vital part.

  • NO-GO-ZONES audio radio project -

    NO-GO-ZONES (NGZ) is a pioneering audio radio project developed & produced through the collaborative initiative of London artists Claudia Wegener & Terry Humphrey. The project touched the ears of many listeners through its on-air broadcasts & on-line audio collections. It set in motion a collective creative research into listening & broadcasting towards “another sound of radio”, another sound of “media”. Its creative methodology of “slow broadcast”, “active listening”, “sound as a means to engage”, “radio communities” & audio correspondence between listeners continues to inspire new projects & production. The NO-GO-ZONES audio radio project has since become the template for the DURBAN SINGS audio media & oral history project Puma.Creative; as well as further collective audio projects in England, Finland, France, Canada & on the African continent.

  • workshopping with "no-go-zones" -

    Ulooflani Mau Mau camp in Dandora/ Nairobi: poster publication of the NO-GO-ZONES audio radio project at hand for talking "slow broadcast" methods
    Puma.Creative

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