When Musical Traditions Meet and Inspire Project

Emmanuela Yogollelo in blue. green and white patterned blouse and skirt, wearing a long plait over one shoulder, standing in front of a wall of red leaves.

Written by Laila Benhaida, Community Archivist, edited by Emmanuela Yogolelo.  Emmanuela is the solo project lead of the ‘When Musical Traditions Meet and Inspire Project’.

For the last couple of years, we have supported Emmaneula Yogolelo to deliver her recent Arts Council funded project ‘When Musical Traditions Meet and Inspire’.  Emmanuela has researched extensively into the rich Central African history of musicology exploring the wide range of musical instruments, genres, sound, instrument groups, historical music samples and their origins and meanings.

Emmanuela Yogolelo is a talented singer songwriter, live performer, workshop facilitator, speaker, and cultural leader.  She received training here at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre and Education Trust in oral history as well as ongoing project and pre-archive support during the delivery of her project.

She has captured rich and expansive oral histories from several individuals in the music and arts field based in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has interviewed interesting people including the Director of the Musée national de la République démocratique du Congo.

There is so much to learn from this project, and I have learnt a large amount of the musical history of Central Africa, so much that it’s hard to distil into a short blog!

Musical instruments, songs, dance, costumes and masks are such an innate part of identity in Central Africa.  From the vast range of drums which are adorned with pictograms telling the ancient stories of our ancestors to the meanings of traditional songs and dance, as well as each instrument.  Songs and instruments have associations with hundreds of Central African tribes such as the Pende and Bashilele people who use Instruments, songs, and dance to communicate and tell stories.  In Central Africa, music is used to initiate rites of passage, mark major life events, and pass down traditions to younger generations.

The material Emmanuela has collected contains some physical items such as research about instrument families, correspondence, photographs documenting her research trips to the Democratic Republic of Congo and her work back in Manchester collaborating with local creatives on new pieces of music blending with musicians from a range of different backgrounds.

There are also several oral history recordings in French and Lingala which Emmanuela has translated into written summaries in English to support wider access by researchers.

In addition, there will be also her own oral history recording which will document her story, the project aims and her experience curating the project.

Cover of The Musical Traditions of the DR Congo and the Central African Region by Emmanuela Yogolelo showing traditional wooden instruments on a background of red leaves.

Project outputs include a new album, a book, and a sound cloud album.

‘When Musical Traditions Meet and Inspire’ is such an interesting project and without Emmanuela’s expertise and energy would not be captured in a mainstream archive.  This material is in the process of being processed and catalogued where it will soon become a permanent record and be accessible by the public for research.

Congratulations, Emmanuela, on the completion of a fantastic project!

Watch Emmanuela here Emmanuela’s New EP and Book – YouTube

Listen here https://soundcloud.com/emmanuela-yogolelo

Her new album as a result of this project ‘Dunia and Nayebi’ is now available from Spotify and iTunes

You can order her book from Amazon Amazon.co.uk: Emmanuela Yogolelo: Books, Biography, Blogs, Audiobooks, Kindle