MORE ABOUT SINGING STORYTELLERS…
As ethnomusicologist Phil Bohlman writes of epic, the historical core of bardic material, it:
provided the framework for the classical, the foundation of human creativity and history that was true to the past. The author (Bharata) or authors of the Natya Shastra constructed the Brahmanic past out of the narrative imagining of the Rama; the author (Homer) or authors of the Iliad and the Odyssey were no less obsessed in writing multiple pasts in the classical voice of singular authority. Epic diverted the ethnographers’ gaze to the past, Johan Gottfried Herder in the eighteenth-century Central Europe, no less than Ibn Khaldun in fourteenth-century North Africa, turned to the epics of al-Andalus from even earlier centuries to search for the meanings of Europe at its historical beginnings. (Bohlman 2012: ix)
The epic singers and bards and new kinds of singing storytellers of today continue to engage memory and history in powerful ways. Rather than merely echoing the past, though, contemporary singing storytellers “sing in active voice of a modern and changing ethnomusicology” (Bohlman 2012:ix). They sing and tell stories of a modern and changing world, in ways that engage historical practices and new media, too.
Who are the important singing storytellers of today – and what stories are they telling? What are they singing about? To what ends? What roles do they play in relation to culture and the arts, history and memory, belief, health and wellbeing, politics, economics and other realms? How do they craft their words and musics? How do they sound – how do their performances appear? How are historical traditions and practices a part of to contemporary performances? Where and in what contexts do today’s singing storytellers create and perform, and for whom? How does their creative work shape – and how is it shaped by – the worlds around them? What their lives are like day to day – and how do issues and circumstances of our contemporary lives shape their broader experiences, production and performance? For example, how do mobility, migrancy and hybridity – creative and hybrid worlds in motion – either enable or constrain production and performance, and subjectivities? These are just some of the questions we invite you to consider.