Growing into Music

From 2009-2012 I worked as co-investigator on “Growing into Music,” a film-based project (funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s “Beyond Text” scheme) that documented and analysed how children learn music in oral musical traditions.

I worked with a small team of ethnomusicologists, led by Lucy Durán of SOAS and BBC radio’s World Routes, which explored the activities of young musicians from various cultures in Latin America, South and Central Asia, and Africa. We conducted a detailed exploration of the routes via which children become musicians, beginning with passive exposure in infancy and culminating in adolescent participation in public performance. The aim of the project was to present an analysis of oral/aural transmission, a phenomenon that is fundamental and intrinsic to the majority of musics around the world.

My focus was on Cuba, where I researched how children learn rumba and religious music in Havana, Matanzas and Güines; and Venezuela, where I worked with young musicians learning música llanera and classical music (the latter through El Sistema) in Guanare, Portuguesa, and small surrounding towns in the plains of Los Llanos. Although music was my principal focus, my project inevitably spilt over into the realm of dance.

I have produced a series of long and short ethnographic films that present the results of this project, which can be viewed for free and in HD here.

My two principal Cuba films have been shown at the Havana Film Festival, La Linea Festival (London), the “Latin America 2011” trade union conference (London), Oxford University, the National Museum (Bamako, Mali), and several venues in Cuba.

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