International Library of African Music (ILAM) (Rhodes University)

Bio

Founded by Hugh Tracey (1903-1977) in 1954, International Library of African Music (ILAM) is an archive that focuses on recording and researching African music. It was founded at the apex of Hugh’s 25 years of field recording and research into African music. This included his 12 years of promoting African music as head of the Natal studios of SABC Radio from 1936 to 1947. This also includes production of numerous commercial 78rpm records with Gallo Records as head of their African Music Research Unit, and publication of his research findings in two significant books namely 'Chopi Musicians' (1948) and 'African Dances of the Witswatersrand Gold Mines' (1952).

Funding from a Nuffield Foundation grant matched by a contribution from the mining industry of southern Africa enabled Tracey to establish ILAM as an independent research canter, archive, and library intended to expand upon the work of the African Music Society, which he founded in 1948. From its inception, his vision for ILAM was to encourage respect for African music and perpetuation of its traditional styles through the following objectives: recording (documentation and preservation), research, publication, education and community outreach. Publication of the annual 'African Music Journal' began in 1954. In the 1960s, two major LP series - the 210-LP 'Sound of Africa' series for educational purposes with support from the Ford Foundation and the 25-LP 'Music of Africa' series for general release with Decca Records - were published by Hugh Tracey from his field recordings.

After his death in 1977, his son Andrew became the Director of ILAM. In 1978, he moved ILAM to Rhodes University where it was affiliated with the Institute of Social and Economic Research until 2005, when it was officially attached to the Rhodes University Department of Music and Musicology. With assistance from the Chamber of Mines and the Chairman’s Fund of Anglo-American Corporation, ILAM re-established itself on the Rhodes University campus. ILAM is now housed in a purpose-designed building erected in 1989 with funds raised by Andrew. In 2002 Prof. Andrew Tracey was honoured with the Eastern Cape Premier’s Arts and Culture Award for his contribution to African music. He retired as Director of ILAM on 31 December 2005. Prof. Diane Thram was appointed to the position of Director effective from January 2006.

The ILAM archival collections have been catalogued and digitized and are accessible online from their homepage search options. ILAM publications include the annual accredited academic journal, 'African Music' and two textbooks that are illustrated with ILAM field recordings and images such as 'Understanding African Music' (available in hard and soft copies) and 'Listen and Learn - Music Made Easy'. Community outreach activities include regular free concerts featuring community musicians, ILAM tours, workshops on African music and opportunities for local musicians in produce recordings using ILAM’s studio. ILAM's travelling museum exhibition, 'For Future Generations - Hugh Tracey and the International Library of African Music', premiered at the Origins Centre Museum at Wits University in 2010. It was featured at the National Arts...

ZAGrahamstown, South Africa
In operation since: 
1954

Contact

+27466038557
Diane Thram
Profile added by Ano Shumba on 31 Aug 2015
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