Maskanda Past and PresentKathryn Olsen
A title in the Ethnomusicology Multimedia.
Music and Social Change in South Africa looks at contemporary maskanda-a folk musical genre distinguished by fast guitar picking and blues-style vocal intonation-against the backdrop of South Africa's history. A performance practice that emerged in the early decades of the twentieth century among Zulu migrant workers, maskanda is strongly associated with young Zulu men's experiences of repression and dislocation during imperial and, more particularly, apartheid rule.
Working closely with translated song lyrics and musical notation-and applying musical and socio-political analysis to this music and its cultural context-Olsen argues that maskanda offers insight into how the post-apartheid ideal of social transformation is experienced by those who were marginalized for most of the twentieth century.
Drawing on a decade of research, Olsen strives to demystify the Zulu part of contemporary experience in South Africa and to reveal some of the complexities of the social, economic, and political landscape of contemporary South Africa.
"Written in clear, simple language, Music and Social Change in South Africa is an informative book that will be useful to ethnomusicology students interested in social changes in Africa, in particular South Africa during and after apartheid. Summing Up: Recommended."
"(A) fascinating book.... Olsen is particularly good on maskanda's subject matter, with careful translations and detailed textual analysis of the music's coded lyrics. As a music-lover rather than an academic...does such forensic examination squeeze the passion out of the subject or inspire the reader to want to hear more? In the case of Olsen's book, the answer is resoundingly the latter."
"Olsen meticulously examines the guitar-rich genre of maskanda among Zulu musicians as a means to demonstrate how this musical practice and its performers engage with and illuminate the complexities of social change in South Africa.... This is an important contribution to scholarship on African music.... It offers a strong balance of depth and breadth and provides a great deal of descriptive information and social theory.... Olsen ultimately demonstrates how maskanda is a valuable lens through which to view transformation in South Africa and the nuances of social change and individual agency more broadly."