SOAS University of London

Centres and Institutes


Oceans of the heart test

SOASis 01 Oceans Of The Heart

Music is a universal, but infinitely varied, means of social expression. It is cherished throughout the world as a distinctive and vital part of cultural heritage. As the world becomes smaller and distant lands come closer, so it is increasingly obvious that Western classical music is but one part of the global landscape. Music has been part of SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, for much of our history; dedicated to increasing knowledge about the world. We passionately believe that music is sound and that it should be performed as well as studied. Here, we celebrate Asia and Africa…
Oceans of the Heart further details

UK Chinese Ensemble - Liushui - Flowing Water

SOASis 02 Liushui: Flowing Water – UK Chinese Ensemble

Comprising a group of the foremost Chinese virtuosi resident in London. Using a stunning eclectic array of traditional instruments, the UK Chinese Ensemble seek not only to promote wide a variety of traditional repertoires that deepen understanding and appreciation of Chinese music in the West but also to explore its contemporary styles. This album is a testament to their achievements.
Flowing Water further details

Taanerimwe - Live at Gateway

SOASis 03 Taanerimwe – Chartwell Dutiro & Spirit Talk Mbira

In many ways the music of Spirit Talk Mbira reflects the journey of its founder, Chartwell Dutiro, master mbira player. It is a multinational dance band incorporating the sounds of mbira but featuring musicians from Europe and Zimbabwe. Adapting traditional Shona mbira and folk songs onto guitar, bass and horns, the music of Spirit Talk takes this repertoire to a new dimension while remaining deeply rooted in the mbira tradition This is both music to dance to and music for reflection – high energy and deep spirit.
Taanerimwe further details

Sounds for Divine Ancestors - The Music of Nepal's Tamu Shamans

SOASis 04 Sounds For Divine Ancestors – The Music Of Nepal’s Tamu Shamans

To prepare this album, Yarjung K. Tamu, a head shaman of the Tamu people of Central Nepal, assembled a group of shaman performers from villages around their mountainous home region. The group all trained as shamans in the traditional way but this was the first time they had ever performed together – so far as we know, this music has never been recorded and published on an album. For the Tamu, shaman practices are part and parcel of daily life that relate human life to divine ancestors, nature spirits and gods. The Tamu Pye Lhu Sangh wanted to record authoritative versions of their ancient ritual music tradition, to be used to educate future generations and to introduce the repertory to a broader public. If you enjoy this recording, of nine carefully selected excerpts from longer rituals, then we will have achieved our primary goal.
Sounds for Divine Ancestors further details

SOASis 05 Toraj Kiaras – Rose Without Thorns

Classical Persian music is traditionally sung solo with a single instrument accompanying. Improvisation is of the essence in Persian music and is the yardstick of a performer’s artistry: the performer is also a composer in the moment, a seeker and a vessel of inspiration. Classical Persian poetry is written in strict metre, the structures of which influence the melodic line of the songs. It is the vocal art par excellence which expresses the mystical yearning of the Sufi poetic vision Toraj Kiaras showed great talent and passion for music at an early age which he continues to exhibit to this day, as one of the most respected living singers.
Rose Without Thorns further details

Majnun - Classical Traditions of the Uyghurs

SOASis 06 Majnun – Classical Tradtions Of The Uyghurs

The Uyghur homeland is a region of oasis towns where the dwellers traded in goods that passed along the Silk Road from China to the Near East and to Europe. Contemporary Uyghurs trace their ancestry back to the Uyghur Turks whose steppe kingdom flourished on China’s northwestern boarders during the eight and ninth centuries. Uyghurs are recognised as the largest ethnic minority group in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China and remain closely related linguistically, culturally and musically to the Turkic peoples of the neighbouring Central Asian States. Abdulla Majnun is a Muqam Master from the old Silk Road city of Khotan. Here he performs sung and instrumental excerpts from the Uyghur Twelve Muqam, alongside pieces from the folk repertoire. He performs on three different long-necked Central Asian lutes: the tambur and dutar and his own invention, the extraordinary double-necked bowed diltar.
Majnun further details

Lee Chaesuk - Korean Kayagum Sanjo

SOASis 07 Lee Chaesuk – Korean Kayagum Sanjo

Sanjo putatively evolved as an instrumental piece out of folksongs, shaman music and p’ansori (epic story telling through song). In South Korea, a third generation of players were influential in the post-Korean War years, as sanjo was preserved and promoted within the state preservation, one of whom, Kim Chukp’a was the granddaughter of the putative founder of the genre. Lee Chaesuk entered Seoul National University to study Korean music in 1959, the year that the first degree course began. She was the first to obtain an MA in Korean Music, the first to master the six sanjo schools and the first woman to be appointed a professor of Korea music. This album, a beautiful testament to a life dedicated to sanjo, features the school of Kim Chukp’a.
Korean Kayagum Sanjo further details

SOASis 08 and SOASis 09

accompany books in the Research Centre’s series, and are not available separately

Cheng Yu and her Five-Stringed Pipa

SOASis 10 Cheng Yu And Her Five-Stringed Pipa

This is our second CD featuring Cheng Yu, the founder of the UK Chinese Ensemble. This album presents the first fruits of her Arts Council and AHRC-sponsored five-stringed pipa project, featuring four new compositions that premiered in February 2005 in two concerts in London and on BBC Radio. When both the four and five-stringed pipa arrived in China some 1,600 years ago from the Middle East and Central Asia, the four-stringed pipa continued to thrive, but the five-stringed version soon fell out of favour. Its unique capabilities were lost until 2003, when Cheng Yu set out to recreate the instrument. The physical reconstruction is a combination of both historical and modern data from Chinese, Korean, and Japanese instruments crossing cultural boundaries once more as during the Tang period, this album features composers and musicians from China, Korea, Britain and America.
Cheng Yu and her Five-stringed Pipa further details

Lila Cita - Gamelan Semar Pagulingan

SOASis 11 Lila Cita: Lovers Of Beauty – Gamelan Semar Pagulingan

A Balinese gamelan is an elaborate percussion orchestra comprising bronze gongs and metallophones. Puja Semara Kanti, the gamelan featured on this recording is a semar pagulingan saih pitu, a type of gamelan that is now rare but was once the favourite of Balinese kings because of its unique subtle tone. Puja Semara Kanti (which can be translated as ‘Lovers of Beauty’) was forged in 1978 by Pande Sukarta in Belahbatuh and tuned by Pande Nyoman Sudarna. It was bought to the UK on 2003 and currently resides in SOAS. Semar pagulingan almost became extinct in the 20th century with the decline in the feudal system, however, recently it seems to be undergoing a renaissance with new sets being forged and groups performing both tradional pieces and new compositions. All of the pieces on this recording are used to accompany dance and many of them were especially written for Lila Cita, one of the few ensembles outside Bali performing this rare type of gamelan.
Lovers of Beauty further details

SOASis Cover Image

SOASis 12 Sounding The World

Sounding the World is a compilation of music from around the globe, assembled, performed and recorded by members and friends of the Department of Music at SOAS. Production was funded by a grant from a SOAS Governor – to whom we give our thanks – and from internal sources, not from the Research Centre, and the CD is for promotion only; it will be inserted in the forthcoming SOAS book, A Celebration of Many Voices and will be distributed at WOMAD and at other festivals. It gives, we hope, a reasonable idea of what music at SOAS is about.

There are 14 tracks (with the affiliation of performers given in brackets):

  1. Sokkan Kiku Day, shakuhachi (PhD student).
  2. Allah Lamina Kadialy Kouyate, kora and singer (SOAS kora teacher).
  3. Jugalbandi An original composition by Anthony Malatesta (MMus student).
  4. Hwahwa ndichahuregera Matimba (BA student) and performed by Harare.
  5. Ketawang Subakastawa Laras Pelog Pathet Nem SEAmusic. Rebab: Ian Anderson; gender: Rachel Hand; kendhang/gerong: Manuel Jimenez; slenthem/gerong/gong: Larry Catungal (BA, MMus and PhD students).
  6. Lin Quan (Spring in the Wood) Sun Zhuo, zheng (PhD student).
  7. Sama’i Nahawand Composed by Khyam Allami for S.F (Oud: Khyam Allami; violin: Kate Arnold; riqq: John Villa; BA and MMus students).
  8. Foni Komitissa Voice: Nicoletta Demetriou; oud: Attab Haddad (PhD and MMus students).
  9. Sayrang Bulbulum, Sayrang! (Sing, My Nightingale, Sing!) The London Uyghur Ensemble. Vocals: Rahimä Mahmut; tämbur: Nizamidin Sametov; ghijak: Stephen Jones; dutar: Rachel Harris (lecturer in ethnomusicology, SOAS).
  10. Nayaneri Tara Tumi Jyoshna La Trobe (PhD student) with Sarala Estruch, Shriila Davies, Amitabha Azzopardi, Tusar Holden, Jishnu Verdier, Amitabha Azzopardi, Matthias Postel, Saraswatii Bagley, Indranath Garrido, Jyotirmaya Hull.
  11. Chertmak Razia Sultanova, dutar (AHRC Research Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts).
  12. Toli (Advice) Composed by Sara McGuinness (PhD student) and Jose Hendrix Ndelo, and performed by Grupo Lokito.
  13. Dobranotsh Performed by the SOAS/Jewish Music Institute Klezmer Ensemble.
  14. The Promise Digital re-appraisal of a Monkfesh track by Paul O’Sullivan (BA student).

Sounding the World further details

SOASis 13 More precious than pearls

consists of Shbahoth songs of praise in the Babylonian Jewish tradition, and accompanies a book authored by Sara Manasseh

Tashkent - Uzbek Music of Celebration

SOASis 14 Tashkent: Music Of Celebration

Featuring the well-known ‘Tashkent’, a karnay tumpet, surnay shawm and doira and nog’ora drum ensemble from Uzbekistan. This is outdoor music for weddings and festivals. The Tashkent ensemble, established by Nodir Raimov at the beginning of 1998 with the aim to preserve traditional styles of Uzbek, takes melodies particularly associated with the city of Andijan in the Ferghana Valley, and since independence in 1991 its repertoire has become part of every Uzbek celebration.
Tashkent: Music of Celebration further details

Kazakh Music

SOASis 15 and SOASis 16 Kazakh Music: Songs & Tunes From Across The Steppes

Forty-four tracks taking the listener on a journey across and around Kazakhstan. The musicians recorded here belong to a young generation of tradition-bearers from their respective regions. Descendents or pupils of renowned masters, they combine knowledge and skills gained through formal training and concert practice with an inherited awareness of deeply-rooted regional styles. Evoking the legacy of the past and communicating it to contemporary audiences in their individual creative ways, these artists shape the unique identity of Kazakh traditional music today.
Kazakh Music further details

Stepanida Borisova - Vocal Evocations of Sakha-Yakutia, Siberia 1

SOASis 17 Stepanida Borisova: Vocal Evocations Of Sakha-Yakutia, Siberia (1)

Stepanida Borisova is a singer and actress at the Sakha Theatre in Yakutsk, the capital of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia, Siberia. Well-known as a singer and master of the lyrical improvisation, tojuk, an improvised style based on the traditional epic storytelling genre of olonkho, and algys, a blessing genre. Tojuk has two main styles, dierettii yrya sung in a melismatic and flowing manner, and degeren yrya, rhythmic, measured singing; both styles use kylsakhs glottal ornaments. She is both expert at Soviet-era Sakha repertoire and a champion of the archaic, improvised and spiritual language of olonkho and shamanic singing. On this album, Stepanida couples a full olonkho episode to folksongs, modern songs and improvisations, performing both solo and with Jon Dobie (guitar) and Asaf Sirkis (drums).
Stepanida Borisova further details

Chyskyyrai - Vocal Evocations of Sakha-Yakutia, Siberia 2

SOASis 18 Chyskyyrai: Vocal Evocations Of Sakha-Yakutia, Siberia (2)

Chyskyyrai, a female singer from the Rpeublic of Sakha-Yakutia, Siberia, creates evocative, passionate, powerful and dynamic music by employing a wide variety of traditional vocal techniques. Chyskyyrai is deeply rooted in tradition, embodying the Sakha character of a menerik woman, one possessed by the spirits. Her vocal style could be described as shamanic hysteria, drawing on oral epics, folk songs and animal imitation, creating highly emotional vocal episodes. Here, Chyskyyrai sings solo and, as part of a set of unique and equal collaborations, with London-based jazz specialist Z’EV (percussion), with the radical musicians Tim Hodgkinson (reeds/lap steel guitar) and Ken Hyder (percussion), and with Jon Dobie (sax, guitar), Theo Scipio (bass) and Asaf Sirkis (drums).
Chyskyyrai further details

SOASis 19 and SOAS 20 Saparbek: Episodes From The Kirghiz Manas


Performing Konarak, Performing Hirapur: Documenting The Odissi Of Guru Surendranath

SOASis DVD1 Performing Konarak, Performing Hirapur: Documenting The Odissi Of Guru Surendranath

This documentary came into being following the realisation that little had been written or seen about the history of Odissi, a dance form from Orissa in Eastern India. There have been a number of reconstructions of Odissi, mainly classical in nature. This documentary foregrounds a different understanding of what constitutes the classicism of the form by presenting the Odissi of Guru Suredranath, an Oriya master now based in New Delhi. Guru Jena has recreated an alternative style of Odissi, inspired by the sculptures of the Orissian temples and the Sun Temple at Konarak. Five signature pieces are examined, performed by his three daughters which focus on the technique of Odissi as performed by him. Alesssandra Lopez y Royo, the director, is a Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture at Roehampton University. This is the first of two DVD’s directed by her for the Centre and in the main provides a much needed account of Odissi and also raises questions concerning dance research as a creative practice and film/digital video as a medium for dance research dissemination.

Interpreting and (Re)Constructing Indonesian Dance and Music Heritage

SOASis DVD2 Interpreting & (Re)Constructing Indonesian Dance & Music Heritage

From Jayaprana to the Abduction of Sita: Tari Bali meets Bharatanatyam is the outcome of a research project at the Centre that took place between 2003 and 2006. A collaboration took place between bharatanatyam dancer/choreographer Chitra Sundaram, Balinese performers/choreographers I Wayan Dibia and Ni Made Pujawati, and the director Alessandra Lopez y Royo. This DVD focuses on the work filmed in London where the performers attempt to grapple with issues of interculturalism. The research process is documented providing a series of commentaries form both the performers and the academics involved. This DVD provides a useful commentary on intercultural collaborations while also raising questions concerning the use of film/digital video as a medium for dance research dissemination.

Doing Things – Ceremonial And Ritual In North China

SOASis DVD3 Doing Things – Ceremonial And Ritual In North China

This film by Stephen Jones also accompanies his book ‘Ritual and Music of North China: Shawm Bands in Shanxi (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007). With two thirds of China’s population still rural, the film draws attention to the musical life of villagers, still based on ritual maintained since imperial times, working outside the state system. It highlights the ceremonial practice of shawm bands and lay Daoist priests in one small area of rural north China, the county of Yanggao, and its modification under the assault of pop music since the 1990’s. It is in two parts, taking us through the sequence of funerals and temple fairs in turn and also a bonus section which illustrates a complete funerary shawm suite form 1992, with the Hua family shawm band playing in superb melodic and rhythmic ensemble.

Our Music Has Become A Divine Spirit: Female Voices From An Ewe Dance-Drumming Community In Ghana

SOASis DVD4 Our Music Has Become A Divine Spirit: Female Voices From An Ewe Dance-Drumming Community In Ghana

An exploration of the power and creativity of Dzigbordi, an Ewe dance-drumming group in Ghana. The film opens with an introduction to the cultural context of Dzigbordi, preparing the viewer for a deeper understanding of contemporary music-making in Dzordze. The heart of the film then presents a series of sequences which highlight the life and artistry of five female group members. These sequences feature edited discussions with the arts, set to video and photographs of them in their daily lives. Each sequence concludes with a presentation and discussion of their own atsia solo dance, allowing us to come to a holistic understanding of the creative process within contemporary Ewe dance-drumming. Filmed and directed by James Burns, Assistant Professor of Music at Binghamton University.

Bàtábádé Technique

SOASis DVD5 Bàtábádé Technique

The codification and development of Bàtábádé technique focuses on the analysis of Bátá drumming and dancing and their documentation in music staff notation, Labanotation, text, and electronic forms. The aim of the project is to make African dance, particularly Bàté and Bàtábádé, accessible to a wider audience.

Siberia At The Centre Of The World: Music, Dance, And Ritual In Sakha-Yakutia And Buryatia

SOASis DVD6 and SOASis DVD7 Siberia At The Centre Of The World: Music, Dance, And Ritual In Sakha-Yakutia And Buryatia

Siberian music and dance is little known outside of Russia, in academic accounts too often considered as merely an easterly extension of European Russia or a northerly extension of East Asia, or experience both on stage and in audio or audio visual recordings as part of an exoticised ‘Other’. Here, filmed and directed by Misha Maltsev and Keith Howard, we illustrate the colour and vitality of cultural production in the region. We include a large variety of voices – ritualists, musicians, dancers, administrators, academics, and audiences young and old. Filmed in June 2001 and July 2006, the DVDs include documentary footage of two key festivals, the Sakha Ysyakh and Buryat Altagarna, solo and ensemble performances and interviews with staff at the East Siberian Academy of Arts, and vignettes on the khomus in Sakha-Yakutia, the Old Believers (Semeiskie) in Buryatia, shamanism in both Republics as it is remembered, revived, and given within ritual practice, and more.