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2019, Thu, Jun 06

Scratching against the Kaboom and Blare of Trumpets

Nhlanhla Mahlangu in “The Head and the Load” | Photo: Courtesy of William Kentridge

Nhlanhla Mahlangu in “The Head and the Load” | Photo: Courtesy of William Kentridge

How did the First World War sound to soldiers from the regions that are today Togo, Namibia or Tanzania? The imaginary soundscapes Philip Miller and Thuthuka Sibisi composed for William Kentridge’s performance The Head and the Load convey an idea of the noise they heard. Along with anthropologist Rosalind C. Morris, the musicians use video clips and sound examples from this performance to discuss questions about transnational Black cultural heritage. What songs were created in the trenches on the Western Front or in camps in East Africa? What can these war songs and chants set against the European music avant-garde? How is colonialism inscribed in tonal knowledge?

Moderated by the ethnomusicologist Ronald Radano, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in the Humanities at the American Academy in Berlin

With kind support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

In cooperation with the American Academy in Berlin