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Growing into music in Mali –perspectives on informal learning in West Africa

Duran, Lucy (2015) 'Growing into music in Mali –perspectives on informal learning in West Africa.' In: Economidou, Natassa and Stakelum, Mary, (eds.), Every learner counts: democracy and inclusion in music education. Innsbruck: Helbling Verlag, pp. 49-64. (European Perspectives on Music Education vol. 4: )

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Abstract

Despite the fact that Mali is famous for its musical traditions, some of which date back to the 13th century, very little research has been done on the passing down of musical knowledge from one generation to the next. Yet surely this is a key to understanding how these oral musics have survived into the 21st century with such vigour. In this chapter I reflect on how children within specialist Malian musical families (jelis, also known as as griots) acquire musical skills. The chapter draws on many years of research in the region, particularly between 2009 to 2012 when I engaged in a film-based project entitled ‘Growing into music – musical enculturation in oral traditions’. There is a small but growing ethnomusicological literature documenting aspects of childhood musicality in Africa (see Rice 2003, Campbell & Wiggins 2013), but almost nothing on Mali except for passing comments in Charry (2000). I am inspired by the idea of ‘enskilment’, a term from anthropology, first used by Gísli Pálsson in his study of apprenticeship in Icelandic fishing (Pálsson 1994), and since taken up by others including Tim Ingold (2000) and Trevor Marchand (2010, 2015) writing about the acquisition of artisanal skills. The chapter presents local discourses around music, modes of transmission, the inheritance of talent and how to measure progress. Some of these findings have strong resonances with work on informal learning in the classroom by Lucy Green (2001, 2008), and by providing new data from West Africa, I hope to stimulate further scholarship on this topic.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Music
Depositing User: Lucy Duran
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2016 15:12
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/22685

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