The crafting of Malende rhythmic motifs in indigenous Venda music with specific reference to Tshigombela and Tshikona dance – a fieldwork-based composition research enquiry

Netshivhambe, Evans Ntshengedzeni
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This creative doctoral research interrogated the complex rhythmic elements found in Venda traditional music and explored how these can inform my work as a composer. I proposed to focus on the varied rhythmic layerings and their congruities, which characterise the three traditional genres: Tshikona, Tshigombela and Malende. In order to understand these dances it is important to start with Malende because I found it to be the rhythmic key to understanding the other two genres. I was particularly interested in the relationship between dance and rhythmic organisation. Based on my experience as a dance practitioner and fieldwork, I maintain that dance movements function as coded signals to communicate specific messages that inform change in the music. My choice of pitches in my original compositions is an individual one, using poetic license while still composing in the style of, and inspired by Venda music. Therefore, much of my own music is not necessarily directly referencing Venda music melodies. My primary music reference is the rhythmic parameter which is reproduced in melodic form simultaneously– the actual pitch choices are original but in the service of the rhythmic motifs and patterns.
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Humanities in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2019