Music as a micro-enterprise? The role of creativity in the social and economic transformation of a rural Ugandan village
Ethnomusicologists have long advocated learning an instrument of another culture in order to understand its musical language. With roots in Mantle Hood’s concept of “bi-musicality”, I extend this approach to speak of “learning to compose” as a technique of field research. My work fuses two interests: ethnomusicology (Bakiga music from south-western Uganda) and composition (using folk-song materials as the basis). As an ethnomusicologist, I will investigate the fabric of the musical sound in order to illuminate aspects of the cultural context in which it is made, and then write music that draws upon Bakiga material as part of a creative response to the fieldwork experience, to consider how this music is being linked to narratives of economic development. In doing so, my research will (1) assess whether experience of Bakiga music provides a means for villagers to enact and perform development (according to models of ‘how to develop’ in light of Western intervention) or create and produce development (defined by localised, indigenous understandings of wider social issues) and therefore (2) question perceptions of international development as primarily an economic issue, which masks the contribution of creativity in poverty alleviation and the importance of cultural exchange in enriching Bakiga livelihoods.