Too little is known about South African indigenous music, according to the South African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) Foundation.Established in 1961, Samro has been investing in music education for five decades and it wants to encourage indigenous African music research among young people in the country.Andre le Roux, Samro endowment general manager, said: “Not enough is known about South African indigenous music, as during the apartheid years our indigenous music did not get sufficient academic focus. “If we do not research or support the research of the music traditions, of the songs, the composers, our legacy and heritage, they may be lost for future generations.”
He said indigenous African music research was established because of a need identified by the esteemed Prof Mzilikazi Khumalo, who noted the lack of research in the field. The Samro Foundation is to give serious focus to organisations’ investment in the arts, with specific attention to music development. It has coughed up R1.13m for 113 prospective music students to study music in South African universities.Le Roux said applicants chose their field of study in the supplied four categories of bursary: general music study, music education study, music composition study and indigenous African music research. All the categories are established on the basis of the degrees and fields of study available in South African universities.On the selection criteria, Le Roux said: “There are three panels of adjudicators, one that selects the general music and music education study, another for composition study and another for indigenous African music study. Each panel has a separate set of criteria, process and chairperson. “The overall criterion is that of merit, in other words, the best achievers in each category. “Our bursary programme started in the ’80s, so most universities, music departments and prospective music students are aware of them.
“The bursaries are also available on various websites, social media and publications and our forms made obtainable electronically.” He said that, beyond the bursary, they started the SA Sings project in 1996 and are now producing Volume Three of SA Sings – a book of choral music scores in both tonic sol-fa and staff notation – which includes information about the composers, their backgrounds, origins and influences “so we, our children, and those that come after them can not only sing our songs in the way they were intended, but appreciate from whence they come”.The foundation has been supporting music education through NGO music schools, music education projects, funding at tertiary level and overseas study at the height of the pyramid.Le Roux said: “The standard of music in South Africa is very high in classical music. Many of the top international soloists and performances go on to achieve in overseas competitions and perform internationally.”