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 National Research Foundation Grant
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13 December 2005

3rd Ear Music’s HIDDEN YEARS MUSIC ARCHIVE PROJECT & the University of KwaZulu-Natal announce the National Research Foundation grant.

The project is expected to generate multidisciplinary research interest in the fields of Library and Information Studies, Law, English, History, Politics, Music and Education, amongst others.

  1. Background to the HYMAProject
  2. 3rd Ear Music’s announcement
  3. Project Partners
  4. Vision and Mission
  5. Further information
  6. Bursary Applications

3rd Ear Music would like to thank Dr. Tessa Marcus director of the National Research Foundation whose grant-in-aid for the next 2 to 5 years, has made this HYMAProject possible & the HYMAProject Committee - most notably Prof Michael Green & Prof Chris Ballantine for their patience & assistance in helping navigate the paper trail.

To those who have provided us with services - in particular Broll Properties who donated the HYMAProject offices & archive storage when we had to move from Currie Road earlier this year - not to worry; the project officially began on the 1st January 2005. Thank you for your hanging in there with us. And to all those who have contributed - in words, music, kind, cash, support & encouragement over the past 30 odd years.

1. Background to the Project

Much of South Africa’s music heritage, like that of our political past, is hard to access. Just as people and books were banned and censored, so too was music, sometimes along with the musicians who made it. A trove of indigenous knowledge, the Hidden Years Music Archive has captured elements of South Africa’s social and political past since the 1960s: elements that were suppressed, and that been forgotten or have remained difficult to access. Seldom has popular music suffered as bizarre a fate as it did in South Africa during apartheid’s most repressive decades – a fate that combined internal exile with international isolation. These were indeed music’s ‘hidden years’.

The Hidden Years Music Archive, currently under the private ownership of 3rd Ear Music Company (www.3rdearmusic.com), is a unique resource comprising ‘alternative’ South African words and music, recorded live or in studio productions. A mix of political, commercial, traditional, contemporary and community recordings, the Archive also includes photos, programmes and posters from coffee bars, concerts, shebeens, festivals, and mine hostels. Its music embraces such diverse styles as Urban Folk, Township Jazz, Country Rock and Maskanda.

Independent music archives currently lack the infrastructure to preserve their historical collections. An immediate concern is the deterioration of analogue tapes, records, and other obsolete media on which much of this material is stored. Other pressing concerns are the fading memories and sheer mortality of all those who were involved in an important era of the creative life of South Africa. There is an urgent need to catalogue, digitise and restore those hidden years, as a resource for future research.

Initially the project will focus on 3rd Ear Music, a company officially formed in 1969 by the chairperson of the South African Folk Music Association (SAFMA) Ben Segal, and music publisher Audrey Smith. The aim of this company was to protect, promote and produce South African live-music performances that could not be heard within the mainstream record and broadcast industries. In 1971, David Marks was appointed Director of 3rd Ear Music; he developed the company, in the face of increasing resistance from mainstream record companies and broadcasters. Much of the material recorded was considered politically sensitive or subversive.

2. 3rd Ear Music’s announcement

It was 17 years ago when the then director of the Campbell Collection & Prof Juergen Brauninger (UkZN) approached 3rd Ear Music & suggested that what we had been recording & collecting, since the 60's, could indeed be a national hidden treasure. They suggested that the HY Archive collection should become part of a major academic institution. A hidden heritage & history no more?

3rd Ear Music & friends had always thought that those times (and the music & characters that turned us on), were worthwhile recording, documenting & sharing with people who couldn't be there at the time.... despite the apparent 'commercial non-viability.' This hobby of mine - some would say passion or obsession (if it murmured or moved, we taped it) - has gone far further than my personal preference.

It's important to mention though, that the HYMAProject is not aiming to recreate the past; this is not a retro CD catalogue collection. It is a reflection, a recollection if you will; a tribute to some remarkable & resilient hidden talent whose words & music & the context in which they were produced & presented, may still have a role to play today.

Much of this music (and the legendary characters, events & venues) will outlast most of the gate-keepers & media programmers who did - and sometimes still do - not want these hidden treasures to be unearthed. Not cost-effective we hear here?

With little or no mainstream industry support the troubadours, minstrels & musicians would move, influence & attract large crowds to concerts, clubs, shebeens, meetings & festivals; but because many of the events were considered, then as now, too "alternative" or of "no commercial value or of mainstream interest" or even, on occasion, "too politically motivated?" - doesn't mean that they should not be shared & aired in the New South Africa.

Whatever - with no political restrictions (or interference?), borders, budgets or perceived bottom-line viability, the general reaction to the HYMAProject, by an entirely new generation of music people, seems to be that it's never too late for a good tune or story to be heard & told. Even if we have to compete with the din & racket of the Top-40. All we need is a level playing field, & those events, and the words & music that carried them, will speak for themselves.

If you need any further detail about budgets or how the research & student allocations have been made - students must be registered at a South African University - please call or eMail.

3rd Ear Music Company (Est. 1969) / The Hidden Years Music Archive Project (Est. 1994)
Website: www.3rdearmusic.com
Email: thirdear@iafrica.com

3. Project Partners

The Hidden Years Music Archive Project will develop a collaboration between 3rd Ear Music Company and the School of Music at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The School of Music at UKZN, the leading institution in Africa in popular music studies, will be the lead partner in the collaboration.

Other partners – also from the University of KwaZulu-Natal – include Digital Imaging South Africa (DISA) and the disciplines of English and of Library and Information Studies, as well as – from Rhodes University – the International Library of African Music (ILAM).

Future collaboration is envisaged with other indigenous music collections, music publishers and independent labels, such as the Shifty Legacy Archive Project, the Lumko African Music from Southern Africa project, and others.

4. Vision and Mission

The digital conversion of the Hidden Years Music Archive will provide a valuable research resource for postgraduate study, and will also undoubtedly nurture considerable public interest in the collection.

The project aims to create an online resource on indigenous South African music and associated cultural heritage, so as to promote multidisciplinary research into the field of popular music and culture.

The development of a national resource will require the survey of potential collaborators and institutions that work in similar domains, so that knowledge and resources can be shared.

The project will network with South African collectors to gather, preserve, and make accessible through electronic services South African indigenous music in digital form, for research, teaching and learning. In the process, academic research will engage with other systems of knowledge, and thus expand research capacity in the field of indigenous knowledge in South Africa.

5. Further information

Ms Leanne Munsami, Administrator, DISA, UKZN
Tel: (031) 260 1705
email: munsamil@ukzn.ac.za
Professor Christopher Ballantine, School of Music, UKZN
email: ballanti@ukzn.ac.za
Professor Michael Green, Programme of English Studies, UKZN
email: greenm@ukzn.ac.za
Dr Dale Peters, DISA, UKZN
email: petersd@ukzn.ac.za

5. Bursary Applications

Download the pdf file (388kb) >>

UKZN logoApplications are invited from suitably qualified persons for Masters, PhD and postdoctoral scholarships to be financed by a grant from the National Research Foundation (NRF) for research into the Hidden Years Music Archive.

The Archive, currently under the private ownership of 3rd Ear Music Company, represents a valuable resource of indigenous knowledge comprising decades of ‘alternative’ South African words and music, recorded live or in studio productions. A mix of political, commercial, traditional, contemporary and community recordings, the Archive also includes photos, programmes and posters from coffee bars, concerts, shebeens, festivals, and mine hostels. Its music embraces such diverse styles as Urban Folk, Township Jazz, Country Rock and Maskanda.

The project aims to create an online resource on indigenous South African music and associated cultural heritage, so as to promote multidisciplinary research into the field of popular music and culture.

Expressions of interest are now sought. Many research topics are possible: examples include a focus on describing, digitising and preserving the Archive, using digital library technology for online web delivery; intellectual property management; and musical and cultural analyses of the Archive’s holdings. The project is expected to generate multidisciplinary research interest in the fields of Library and Information Studies, Music, English, History, Politics, Law, and Education.

Applicants should be in a position to start their studies in February 2006. In addition to the completed form, applications should include a letter of motivation explaining the applicant's research interest in the archive, a CV, and a full academic record. Preference will be given to South African citizens. Successful candidates will be expected to conduct appropriate independent and team research.

Further information can be obtained from Ms Leanne Munsami:
Tel: (031) 260 1705
email: munsamil@ukzn.ac.za

Postgraduate application forms can be obtained from the University of KwaZulu-Natal web site, at www.ukzn.ac.za/prospective/appforms.asp.

Completed application forms should be sent to the following address, to arrive no later than 20 January 2006.

Ms Leanne Munsami, DISA.
University of KwaZulu-Natal
220 Marriott Road
DURBAN 4001.


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