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Tonic Sol-fa in contemporary choral music practice : a South African case study

Stevens, Robin 2005, Tonic Sol-fa in contemporary choral music practice : a South African case study, in Australian Association of Research in Music Education Proceedings of the XXVIIth Conference, AARME, Melbourne, Vic., pp. 157-167.

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Title Tonic Sol-fa in contemporary choral music practice : a South African case study
Author(s) Stevens, Robin
Conference name Australian Association for Research in Music Education : proceedings of the XXVIIth Annual Conference, 24-27 September 2005, Carlton Crest, Sydney
Conference location Sydney, Australia
Conference dates 24 - 27 September 2005
Title of proceedings Australian Association of Research in Music Education Proceedings of the XXVIIth Conference
Editor(s) De Vries, Peter
Publication date 2005
Conference series Australian Association for Research in Music Education Conference
Start page 157
End page 167
Publisher AARME
Place of publication Melbourne, Vic.
Summary The Tonic Sol-fa method of teaching choral singing was propagated throughout Britain during the nineteenth century with the dual objectives of enhancing Christian worship and achieving social reform. It was then imported to South Africa where it was introduced to indigenous people principally through Christian missionary activity and government schools. Although entirely of foreign origin, Tonic Sol-fa was so fully assimilated into African culture that it became effectively 'indigenised'. Due to its widespread use, it became the mainstay of community choral singing and may now be said to represent a significant exogenous aspect of present-day South African musical identity. However, there is little documentation regarding the type and extent of its use in contemporary choral music practice.

This paper will report on the use of Tonic Sol-fa in representative present-day choral music settings. Interview data collected from choir directors, trainers and teachers in Cape Town indicate that there is far from unanimous agreement on several aspects - in particular, the future of Tonic Sol-fa as a pedagogy and notational system. Improving educational opportunities for indigenous South Africans to undertake professional training in music are now threatening the traditional dominance of Tonic Sol-fa in indigenous culture. Nevertheless this research represents a useful case study of the continuing relevance of Tonic Sol-fa to an indigenous population who have 'made it their own' and developed a vibrant choral tradition which continues to both enrich and sustain their lives.

ISBN 0958608687
9780958608688
Language eng
Field of Research 190409 Musicology and Ethnomusicology
HERDC Research category E1 Full written paper - refereed
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30005689

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Social and Cultural Studies in Education
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