Transforming Practices: New Ways of Approaching Traditional Forms

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Amanda Bayley, Professor, Bath Spa University, UK ● www.amandabayley.co.uk
Chartwell Dutiro, Musician-Singer-Songwriter-Composer-Teacher and Founding Artistic Director, Mhararano Mbira Academy, UK ● www.chartwelldutiro.com

Bayley and Dutiro addressed the exchange of ideas and sounds generated from combining Chartwell Dutiro’s mbira music from the Shona tradition of Zimbabwe with a classically trained string quartet and a dancer/choreographer and how this has resulted in a creative practice that defines its boundaries through the act of collaboration. The importance of understanding how creativity occurs across cultural and Western-imposed disciplinary boundaries is prompted by an observation from ethnomusicologist Martin Stokes: “music doesn’t simply ‘flow’ across the gap as some, talking more generally about cultural globalization and transnationalism, like to imply.” (Stokes 2012: 99)
   Observations about the creative process, including the relationship between musicking and dialoguing, help to identify the complexities, problems and solutions that arise across this gap. Recorded evidence from participant observation reveals how the musicians and dancer address the challenges that arise from combining oral and written traditions as well as presentational and participatory performance practices. Theories and methodologies from ethnomusicology, sociocultural studies, network analysis, music analysis and intercultural theatre studies will be employed to interpret observations of dialoguing and musicking. Analysis of the creative dialogue and collaborative process involved in crossing cultural and disciplinary boundaries aims to inform practitioners, academics and audience members with ways of encountering and exploring other cross-cultural artistic practices.