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The South African Blue Notes : bebop, mbaqanga, apartheid and the exiling of a musical imagination.

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During the middle decades of the twentieth century, the exiling from South Africa of jazz musicians, including The Blue Notes, brought the discourses of local jazz, its performance culture and repertoires, to international attention. This process points to jazz’s global reach and raises questions about its adoption by differently constituted cultural subjects. Arjun Appadurai’s arguments about global homogenisation and heterogenisation come into play here, and have special significance today, when the study of jazz performance and history is increasingly part of the music education of young South Africans. Questions about who ‘owns’ jazz and what constitutes its authenticity loom large, as do questions about its global entanglement. The careers of The Blue Notes emerge from a background of South African syncretic musical performance; as such, they belong within the protracted history of African cultural engagement with European and American mediations of modernity. Among other issues, my thesis examines the use of jazz-influenced repertoires in the narration of cultural identities in postcolonial South Africa, under apartheid, and in exile.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2010.


Jazz musicians--South Africa., Jazz--South Africa--History and criticism., Music--Political aspects--South Africa., Blue Notes (Musical group), Theses--Music.