he book Musics of the Free State is an imposing volume: nine substantial and far-reaching essays (preceded by an introduction) offer the reader a plural, occasionally disturbing and intellectually invigorating analysis of Bloemfontein and its environs through the prism of the Odeion School of Music (OSM). The (comparatively) recent formation of the OSM clearly serves as the animus and motivating impulse of the entire book. Indeed, most of the contributors are intimately associated with the OSM and serve on its faculty, so that the School itself acts as a nexus or fulcrum for the deliberations on music as an agent of political, cultural and social engagement in South Africa which animate the volume from beginning to end. In this respect the book affirms a coherence which, despite the (valuable) plurality of its contents, invites a readership from across the entire musicological community.
Musics of the Free State doubtless makes its most intimate appeal to South Africa itself, but the essays are so profoundly indentured to international modes of scholarship (notably North American, British and European traditions) that it is difficult to escape the compelling relevance which the volume as a whole maintains in relation to global musical practice, especially in three domains: ethnomusicology, education and socio-cultural discourse. Such domains do not exhaust this volume’s reach (there are important contributions on infrastructure and the analysis of art music which easily transcend their local context), but the book’s engagement with musical practices in post-Apartheid South Africa in general (and the Free State in particular) speak over and again to postcolonial and indeed postmodern problems which resonate far beyond sub-Saharan Africa. This is a volume which is truly international in its address.
Dale Cockrell: Elephants, communities, and 1994: An introduction
Johan Moll: On the history of Bloemfontein and significant cultural institutions and manifestations
Nicol Viljoen: The Free State Orchestral Training Programme: A model Infrastructure for music education in the Free State and South Africa
Elene Cloete: Entanglement in an “off the map” city: An ethnographic journey through the city of Bloemfontein, South Africa
Gregory Barz: Reinscribing coloured cultural identity through music: South African jazz musicians as cultural historians in the Heidedal township of Bloemfontein, Free State
Frelét de Villiers: Photography as music reportage: Musical life at the Odeion School of Music
Martina Viljoen and Bonisile Gcisa: The documentation and arrangement of indigenous song in the Free State regions of South Africa: Constructing places of the heart, the home, the land, of wisdom, and the sacred
Matildie Thom Wium: The place of Africa in Stefans Grové’s The Soul Bird Trio (1998)
Martina Viljoen: Music in the Vulture Club: How ‘free’ is the Free State?
Marius Coetzee: Towards the future: A strategic re-positioning of the Odeion School of Music, University of the Free State