May 19, 2017


Filed under: 2017 - Say It With Flowers,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 10:26 pm


April 10, 2017

Say It With Flowers

Filed under: 2017 - Say It With Flowers,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 2:53 pm


The new South African film production Say It With Flowers (24min24sec, 2017), has been selected for competition screening by the International Short Film Festival of Oberhausen in Germany (11-16 May 2017), as well as the Encounters Documentary Film Festival (1-11 June 2017), Johannesburg and Cape Town iterations. The film is comprised entirely of found footage ‘home movies’ filmed by Charles Weich (1892-1973), much of it focusing on international musicians visiting Cape Town. The original Weich material is housed at the National Film Archive in Pretoria. Say It With Flowers is edited and directed by Aryan Kaganof, and produced by Stephanus Muller for Africa Open.

March 29, 2017

Stephanus Muller & Willemien Froneman – Crisis? what crisis?

Filed under: music,politics,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 2:19 pm


March 24, 2017

the question

Filed under: stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 9:23 am

Screen shot 2017-03-24 at 9.22.38 AM

March 15, 2017

Say It With Flowers

Filed under: 2017 - Say It With Flowers,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 2:33 pm


March 8, 2017

Stephanus Muller interviews Stanley Glasser

Filed under: music,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 2:33 pm

It was a wintry, gray London morning when Stanley fetched me at Waterloo station to take me to his home in Weigall Road. I had written to him, sending him the introduction of my thesis on South African music and asking for an interview. He consented at the 11th hour, a week before I was due to return to South Africa. Even before we arrived at his home, it became clear that he had much to talk about. Asking questions was not going to be easy.


SG: When I read your writing, it’s almost an Afrikaner writing as opposed to a South African.

SM: Yes it is. Very much so.

SG: And maybe that is what you want to do. Yours is a concern that I understand very well. But Afrikaner intellectuals are inclined to be elitist, even to their own Afrikaans people. They are so disciplined and conscious and intelligent and they work and they take a problem and they sort it out and their writing is very good. But how many of them have got black friends? Have you got any black friends?

SM: No.

SG: You see, here you are talking about things and you don’t even know one black guy you can discuss your ideas with. That is a problem. I am a very strong nationalist, but my nationalism is entirely inclusive. I am proud of the rich mix that you get in South Africa, which gives a certain character and strength. I feel that in many ways South Africans are more characterful than Australians, or New Zealanders or Canadians. Culturally I regard ourselves, potentially at least, as richer than these countries. We’ve got a lot to be proud of with the South African set-up.

SM: Can you expand on this idea of an inclusive nationalism?

SG: Nationalism is very important to a people. One of the big musics of the world is jazz. How many bloody American composers have infused jazz into their classical works? A few Europeans played around with it. There was Milhaud. And then there is Bernstein and perhaps one or two other examples, but jazz is full of the most fascinating things. If you take folk music and transmute it as Bartók did or perhaps some of the Russians have done, it enriches classical music. The Americans haven’t done anything like it for decades. You get a guy like Copland and they make a big fuss of him. Billy the Kid and Rodeo and the Mexican this and that. It’s skimming the surface. Folk music always enriches classical music, and in this regard twentieth-century music has failed. Composers in the twentieth-century have tried to show that they are technically and intellectually competent like their counterparts in the natural sciences. So you get guys taking up twelve tone writing and they throw a whole lot of things belonging to music out of the window. ‘Cesspool music’, that’s what one critic called it. I have tried to show that serial technique could go beyond what the practitioners of the Second Viennese School devised. I took a little six note African scale, got a friend of mine to write light little verses and I treated that six note scale very strictly according to serial rules. And they were light pieces! I am saying that technique doesn’t necessarily have to serve the purpose it had when it was developed. And now I come back to culture and inclusive nationalism. There are all sorts of infusions into a culture. Take Byrd, Palestrina and Victoria. All Catholics, all beholden to their faith. But when you listen to their music: Victoria is Spanish, Palestrina is Italian, Byrd is English. They’re using the same devices, the same words of the mass. But they haven’t lost their culture. There is always an element around which is essentially culture specific. That is what I think we could do in South Africa. There could be cross-fertilization. In the case of art music we could produce some wonderful works in the future, feeding new things into West-European classical music, refreshing it. The ethno-classical element in South Africa is full of promise, because you have the opportunity to produce a transmutation that can ultimately produce a new sound. In my music I often use a major third, E-C, let’s say, to a major fourth, D-A. Now that’s especially to be found in Nguni source music. And it is sunshine to me. Now let us go back to Afrikaans composers. What Afrikaans composers have taken ‘vastrap’ and worked that into their classical music? You see, it’s below them. Vastrap is not classical music. Bartók, who ranged all around the North-African perimeter and the Balkans was an Hungarian composer. It’s what he did with his stuff that counts. The Americans are in the best position to transmute jazz elements into classical music and they have not done so sufficiently. I feel we can do that in South Africa. That is what I’ve tried to do. I have a sense of private superiority about South Africa over dozens of other countries. When I am up in heaven playing my mbira, looking down, I want to sea Southern Africa like a European Union. We can become one of the power houses of the world.

SM: Do you thing there is down-side to writing ethno-classical stuff?

SG: Yes, of course. An example. Hans Roosenschoon is a very good composer. When he was doing a year or two at the RAM we performed a brass quintet of his at Goldsmiths. Excellent! Excellent! It had Zulu sounds in it, overtones, which even I can’t grasp. Excellent piece of music. The audience of lecturers and students didn’t know Zulu music from Adam, but they thought it a terrific piece of music. Momentarily, I feel, Hans let his hair down. It is one of his most original pieces. But when Hans wants to show himself, understandably, to be on a level with the leading composing schools whether it is in France or England or Europe or America, he is writing European music for South Africa, instead of writing South African music for Europe.

SM: Now that is interesting, I …

SG: Wait, I’m coming to the down-side of writing ethno-classical stuff. It is a question of attitude. He did another work some years later for a chamber orchestra and chopi record, recorded by Hugh Tracey in Mozambique, and he timed his music so that you put on the tape of the original chopi stuff to fit in and out with the chamber orchestra. Ingenious. But it was superficial. Technically very good, but superficial. So once when he came over to London we had coffee together and I asked him why he didn’t go and do some research. He answered that one didn’t need research, as everything had been recorded. Now you can’t just listen to records, that’s not the way to get to know music. You’ve got to be at the coal face and you’ve got to see what goes on. There are all sorts of things that you pick up.

SM: So do you think that ‘writing South African music for Europe’ will only happen when you do research?

SG: Yes …

SM: Composers have got to search for ethnic stuff?

SG: Yes, but you’re doing it out of desire as opposed to a duty. If you have no desire you mustn’t do it. I will do it, but you [Afrikaners] must do it as well. Go to a vastrap evening in Nelspruit or wherever and see what you can do with it. And see what it means, the dancing, the life, it’s all part of the music. If there’s a dance in Nelspruit on a Saturday night and all the farmers are coming in and the locals are coming in and there is a Boereorkes. Where are you guys? Do you ever roll up to that sort of thing? No.

SM: So you are advocating a flattening of the stubborn boundaries between musicologist, ethnomusicologist, composer? Is that what we are talking about?

SG: Look, composers in the previous century became too intellectual. When Schoenberg was heard to remark that he would like the butcher boy to whistle the main theme from his violin concerto – what utter tosh! What utter rubbish! Perhaps he meant that sincerely, but he was living in cloud cuckoo land! I mean, what happened to melody and rhythm, which is an essential part of music, during a lot of twentieth-century composition? If you take Schoenberg, Hindemith, Stravinsky and Bartók: who are the composers who are alive? It’s the less sophisticated ones: Stravinsky and Bartók. The more intellectualized composers are fodder for musicologists. Why don’t we ‘analyze’ Rachmaninoff rather than Tchaikovsky? Because the teachers find it difficult to pigeon-hole what Rachmaninoff does. In Schoenberg you’ve got note row, you’ve models on the Baroque Suite and this and that. Teachers can teach that, it’s easy. But can you teach something that is more spread-eagled and can’t be explained entirely? The academic world is to blame a lot for certain attitudes that their charges develop.

SM: So were the conceits of serialism a myth?

SG: Serialism had a very good function. Every piece of music has a role to play. The importance of serial technique was to put an end to outdated functional harmony. Important harmonists like Chopin began to expand and by the time you got to Wagner, you could go anywhere you like with regard to tonality! You could go from C to C flat, you could go from C to F sharp with a bit of chromatic twisting. That’s why I can’t stand Wagnerian music, because it’s a twilight, it goes on and on and on. But the Twelve-Tonalists spiked this bloody chromaticism, which just wafts off into orbit. And then, happily, the Minimalists came along and spiked the Twelve-Tonalists! And that’s wonderful! They did a very good job and a very good service to music. Today we are listening to musics, whether you like it or not. We are in a great mix, which is confusing and nevertheless also very gratifying, because it means all the more that we South Africans can pursue our own thing.

SM: I want to return to this thing about the ‘correct’ or the ‘wrong’ way to appropriate ethnic material …

SG: Look, South Africa is my love. I love it. I love the vastrap, I love a Zulu dance team, I love the topography of my country, I love all the different people. That’s what makes me do it.

SM: So if you get a composer living in white suburbia somewhere in Constantia or Bishopscourt and he does not write music with ‘African’ flavours. Is that a legitimate activity?

SG: Yes, it is. For him. It hurts me that he’s doing it, but he must write what he wants to write. He decides what he wants to write because of his history. My history is different from the composer who only wants to write West-European music modeled on Boulez, Stockhausen, Lutoslawski or Ligeti. If he wants to do that he must do that. In the end, if there is a composer from South Africa who becomes an outstanding ‘European composer’, that’s fine. But he would be unique. What about all of us, what about all the students, all the performers, the lesser composers – they’ve got to come from somewhere. And their cultural background determines what they will do. The chap who only writes European music feels that his surround is unimportant to him and that what is to be desired is what is ‘over there’.

SM: Well, if you look at white suburban South Africa your immediate surround still is very white, it is more American than African. Don’t you think, given our history of racial segregation, that you will find most composers writing with that sense of West-European orientation?

SG: Look, let us take Stefans. Stefans Grové is the most human of what I call the ‘five’ South African composers: four Capies and one Transvaler. The Transvaler is me and the other four are Arnold van Wyk, John Joubert, Hubert du Plessis and Stefans Grové. They were all Cape orientated and they didn’t have as much to do with black culture because of their environment. There have been attempts to do something with Cape Coloured stuff. But there’s been very little effort. Now suddenly, Stefans, who is the most humanistic and has the best sense of humour – a delightful chap with a lovely sarcastic twist in his humour – he is suddenly coming out with African stuff! Why didn’t he do that before? What has caused him to do that now? Because around him it has changed. It’s always getting onto the bandwagon. It’s the same with European composers. They’re now beginning to use folk music. Why weren’t they doing this twenty or thirty years ago? So it’s coming from outside, not from the inside. That’s the point.

SM: That’s the point then where politics intrudes into music, isn’t it?

SG: Yes, it is. But what I am also saying is that the composer today is looking over the wall outside classical music. I think that’s good thing. You’ve got to write music that people will like. I don’t want to use the word ‘responsibility’, because as soon as you use the word ‘responsibility’ it means it is a decision of the mind rather than a decision of feeling. It would not be to a composer’s advantage to say: ‘I’m now going to study black music’.

SM: What happens if there is black sensitivity about the appropriation of ethnic material by white composers for their own ends?

SG: I get your point. Well, I suppose what I am proposing is that one has to take that resentment on board, and fight it. I know that every time I have gone back to South Africa things have changed more and more. A lot of what I’ve been saying is a wish, an idealism. Now you’ve got to try to put that into practice and very often you might fail. I’ve never felt when I deal with Blacks or Coloureds that they resent what I’m doing. That might be because of what I say or what my history is or the way I deal with things. What you’ve underlined is very important and it is a difficult problem. I cannot give a well-defined solution or method of dealing with it. All I can say is one’s got to go for it, all the time. It has to do with projects, to my mind. There have got to be projects that everybody agrees to work on. What I call the ‘togetherness’. I can see that there are huge problems and of course I’ve have been out of the country in terms of living there for quite a few decades now. When I go back I am returning to my home as a visitor, so to speak, but on the other hand, no one will take away my attachment. If a Black or Coloured resents what I do, too bloody bad. My conscience is clear, you see, I have no guilt feelings. My temperament, my nature, believes in the mix.


January 21, 2017

ingoma yomzabalazo

Filed under: Mbe Mbhele,music,music and exile symposium,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 10:26 pm


The Song As Struggle and Resistance Caucus, is a Black Thought Symposium initiative. The initiative seeks to find ways to speak about what song means to black people in the struggle and how it can or has been used as a method of resistance. The caucus is interested in creating a dialogue between artists on the role of black acoustic practices in the struggle. This is to say, the caucus wants to create a community of practitioners who will interpret, archive and convey the struggle songs in the black experience. At its core the caucus seeks to find ways and vocabularies to stress the vitality of art negre in the de-colonial project.

The collaboration will take the form of three day events around Western Cape. The events will be hosted in universities and townships such that we are able to reach and accommodate as many people as we can in the dialogue.

15 February 2017
Discussion: The Role of Song in Struggle and as Struggle.
Venue: UCT
Time: 15h00
Description: The discussion will be a reflective one between Black Thought Symposium and the Rhodes Must Fall comrades on how they used song to struggle and what song meant for them throughout the protests. The discussion will be punctuated by performances from both BLKThought Music and Iphupho l’ka Biko. The performances will be followed by another conversation that will happen in the form an exchange of struggle songs where comrades of Rhodes Must Fall/ Fees Must Fall will share the songs that have touched them the most and vice versa.

16 February 2017
Symposium: Reflections on the Bana(abi)lity of Song in Struggle
Venue: Stellenbosch
Time: 15h00
Description: The symposium will be separated in two parts. The first part will be a feedback by Black Thought Symposium of the discussion on the bana(abi)lity of song. The feedback will include readings of some of the ideas that were presented at the symposium. The second part will be a conversation on how we can think more critically about songs and their animative power in the struggle.

Visit: Conversation and Performances at the PASS on ‘Song as Struggle and Resistance’
Venue: Pan-African Space Station
Time: 19h30

17 February 2017
Township Tour: Busking and Improvisation
Venue: Khayelitsha
Time: 16h00
Description: The purpose of this tour is to try and get a feel of what people who are not necessarily located in the university space think about struggle. We will go to specific locations in the township and have performances that will be followed by a conversation between the artists and the audience.

January 13, 2017

Stephanus Muller on You’re In Chains Too

Filed under: stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 10:52 am

Screen shot 2017-01-13 at 10.50.44 AM

read the full interview here: http://www.litnet.co.za/onderhoud-met-stephanus-muller-dekolonisasie-van-musiek/

January 12, 2017


every act of creation is inseparable from the critique of its medium, and every work, intensely reflecting upon itself, looks like the embodied doubt of its own possibility.
Erich Heller

Say It With Flowers
South Africa

A found footage bouquet arranged and abused by Aryan Kaganof.
Film material shot by Charles Weich between 1948 and 1973 was mashed up with the soundtrack to Brief Encounter.
The result is an indictment of the pathological whiteness that manifested itself virulently as “apartheid”.
produced by Stephanus Muller for Africa Open

November 16, 2016

You’re In Chains Too


November 6, 2016

Nico Carstens Commemoration

Filed under: kagagraphix,music,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 9:30 pm


July 28, 2016

Gerard Scholz interviews STEPHANUS MULLER

Filed under: stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 11:50 am

first published in De Kat

June 22, 2016

Stephanus Muller – Die stem

Filed under: music,music and exile symposium,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 4:33 pm


Musiek is hoog of laag. Dit kan styg of daal (soos berge en dale) met ’n opgaande lopie of ’n afwaartse toonleer. Dit is hier, digby die huis (tonika), of dáár by verwantes (relatiewe of parallelle mineur/majeur, miskien dominante of subdominante toonsoorte). Soms beweeg dit, soos in Schönberg se beskouing van tonaliteit, na verafgeleë uithoeke van groter tonale geografieë, tot by die verste verwyderde omgewing voor dit (indien ooit) terugkeer na die bekende wêreld van die tonika. Musiek as ’n soort res extensa. Orkestrasie is lugtig en ruimtelik, soos by Webern, of konstruktivisties gespierd soos by Brahms. Musiek maak horisontale kontoere en boë deur die afstande tussen note (intervalle). Hierdie afstande word in uitvoering bepaal deur die tydsruimte tussen die einde van een toon en die begin van die volgende te beheer (artikulasie). Musiek is argitektonies monumentaal in vorm soos ’n Beethoven simfonie, of dit is in uitdrukking en vorm intiem soos die salon.
Ons kan musiek nie in taal benader sonder die metafoor van ruimte nie. Individuele kombinasies tone (musikale ‘werke’) is afgebakende ruimtes. Wanneer die ruimtes deur herhaalde betreding bekend geword het, word dit bevolk deur kulturele geheue. Die koesterende aard van sulke ruimtes setel daarin dat die sentiment (emosioneel en/of kultureel) presies gevoel word, maar nie presies in taal uitgedruk kan word nie. Dit is ’n taalweerstandige ruimte.
Om Die Stem as ’n kollektiewe herinnering te ondersoek, steun op hierdie metaforiese verstaan van musiek in die algemeen, en van ’n spesifieke werk in die besonder. Dit is nie ’n ondersoek wat veel te doen het met die geskiedenis van die lied nie. C.J. Langenhoven se vers is slegs die fondament van hierdie plek, M.L. de Villiers se melodie slegs die buitemure daarvan en Hubert du Plessis se amptelike orkestrasie die binneversiering. Die vraag na geheue en herinneringe en van hoe hierdie dinge hierdie teks betrek het, is by uitstek nie ’n vraag na die skryf van geskiedenis nie. Die verbeelding wat op soek is na geheue moet meer poëties te werk gaan.


Figuur 1: David Goldblatt-foto met die beskrywing “Die Heldeakker, The Heroes’ Acre: cemetery for White members of the security forces killed in ‘The Total Onslaught’ Ventersdorp, Transvaal, 1 November 1986”.

Die slotfrase van Die Stem word heel letterlik ‘triomferend’ (die karakteraanduiding in die musiek) gespan as sin-gewende banier oor hierdie afgekampte ruimte. Dit skenk definisie aan die ruimte van die militêre begraafplaas. Hoor die kyker dit? Die twee gestorwenes in die begraafplaas word opgedra deur die kontoer van die melodie: B-mol-A-G-B-mol-D-E-mol. Die gepunteerde ritmiese aanhef van die frase, gerig deur die tussendominante harmonie besweer twyfel, stu vorentoe, mik na die oplossing aan die einde van die frase. Die einde is gerusstellend as einde. Dit maak sin. Dit besorg ons tuis.
Goldblatt se foto dateer uit 1986. Dit is verskoonbaar om Die Stem in hierdie tyd te hoor as ’n militêre lied; die kontoere en ritmes en harmonieë daarvan as skanse teen die vyand, as onderskraging vir dié wat oor die uiteindelike oorwinning sou twyfel. Vir André P. Brink is Die Stem egter ook die lied van marteling in die sewentigerjare:

… telkens word die belhamel van die betogers gearresteer, gemartel en doodgemaak: dan ontstaan nuwe protes, en daaruit kom nuwe martelaars. So hou dit aan tot daar ’n doodse stilte toesak waaruit Die Stem begin groei terwyl ’n groepie Volkspelers in spierwit maskers oor die lyke van die martelaars begin dans.

Dit is ook hierdie ‘Stem’ wat aan die einde van J.M. Coetzee se Age of iron die nagmerrie-visie van die hel van ’n klankbaan voorsien. “I am afraid”, sê die sterwende mevrou Curran, “of going to hell and having to listen to Die stem (sic) for all eternity”. Die Stem wat die kis van Milla Redelinghuys haar graf in begelei aan die einde van Marlene van Niekerk se Agaat, ’n ander teneur. Wanneer die plaas Grootmoedersdrift in besit geneem word deur die bruin vrou, Agaat, gevorm deur die wit vrou wat haar liefgehad en verwerp het, is dit Die Stem wat op ’n dubbelsinnige manier verandering en voortsetting artikuleer:

Gaat wat die mense by die graf die derde versie van Die Stem laat sing: … by die klink van huw’liksklokkies, by die kluitklap op die kis … Thys se liggaamstaal! Die skouers militaristies agtertoe, oë strak na bo, ou Beatrice starend na die einder. Die werkers, mans en vrouens, het dit gesing soos ’n hallelujalied, oë omgedop. Woordvas tot en met. Trust Agaat. Sy sal nie sommer gou die nuwe lied invoer nie.

Maar hoe het historiese resepsie gelei tot ’n stelselmatig-groeiende fascistiese timbre wat uitvoerings en resepsies van Die Stem in die tagtigerjare gekenmerk het en ook in bogenoemde voorbeelde uit die letterkunde opgeroep word? Daar was immers ’n tyd toe Die Stem ’n bevrydingslied was vir Afrikaners, ’n alternatiewe teks vir kollektiewe musikale mobilisasie as God Save The Queen. Hierdie essay wil die enkele aangehaalde voorbeelde van fiksienarratief-gemedieërde herinneringe aan Die Stem probeer koppel aan historiese proses, soos dit verteenwoordig word in argiefdokumente van die FAK uit die vyftigerjare.
In 1952, vyf jaar voor Die Stem die enigste amptelike volkslied van Suid-Afrika sou word, loods die Afrikaanse Kultuurraad van Pretoria ’n inisiatief om “drie gesaghebbendes se mening oor die gepaste geleenthede, wanneer ’n Volkslied behoort gesing of gespeel te word, te verneem”. Uit Stellenbosch skryf dr. C.G.S. (Con) de Villiers:

Ek is van geaardheid en opvoeding uiters konserwatief, veral wat die heilige dinge van ons volk betref. En Die Stem het een daarvan geword. Ek het dit selfs bitter betreur dat Die Stem aan die end van die voetbalwedstryde in Engeland gesing en gespeel is … Daar is vir my net een leidraad vir die sing: besit die vergadering poids et majesté in die Calvynse kriterium? Dan kan Die Stem gesing word!

De Villiers se antwoord kan slegs ten dele aangehaal word. In die res van die brief spreek hy hom ook uit teen die sing van Die Stem by politieke vergaderings aangesien hy as lid van die Nasionale Party dit sal “betreur indien die Sappe Die Stem as visitekaartjie van die [Nasionale] Party aanskou”. Die verskriklikste vergryp teen Die Stem bestempel hy as “’n juffroutjie [wat] aan die klavier gaan sit en haar eie, apokriewe harmonie (?) by die wysie maak”.
In 1952 het Die Stem vir De Villiers dus reeds een van die ‘heilige dinge’ van die Afrikaner geword, ’n plek van aanbidding. Sy afkeure dui op moontlike kontaminerende invloede: sport, politiek en ‘juffroutjies’. Wat laasgenoemde betref is die gevaar vir besmetting gesetel in die harmonie en nie enige van die ander parameters nie. Histories (’n mens dink aan Jean-Jacques Rousseau, die Konsilie van Trent) kan hierdie vrees gekoppel word aan ’n filosofiese en ideologiese verbintenis aan die woord, waarvan die helderheid deur meer komplekse vertikale musikale bedrywighede vertroebel word. Meer hieroor later.
Vir De Villiers is Die Stem as heilige ruimte ’n ruimte van goeie smaak en hoër dinge. Sy gepubliseerde geskrifte is deurspek met hierdie politieke en gender-vooroordele wat uiting vind as pseudo-estetiese oordele. Mussolini se ondertekende portret wat in sy sitkamer uitgestal was gekoppel met sy Verdi verering, die invloed van Engelse ‘songs’ wat soos ’n slegte reuk aan sy verlede bly kleef het, die herinnering van “hartstogtelike, barbaarse Sigeunervolksdanse wat die jong Jood vir die besadigde, burgerlike Afrikanerhuisgesin voorgespeel het”; koördinate van hoe ’n mens De Villiers se kamp ‘poids et majesté’ kan rekonstrueer. Die Stem as soete inval.
Doktor H.C.E. Bosman, destydse sekretaris van die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, skryf op 16 Junie 1952 dat Die Stem gesing kan word by “geleenthede waarin volksgevoel tot natuurlike uiting kom.” Dit sluit in “algemene Volksfeeste, Dingaansfeeste, Uniedag, Heldedag, Van Riebeeckdag, Parlementêre verrigtinge, funksies waarby die Staatshoof of regering betrokke is, funksies waarby die Provinsiale Administrasie of Stedelike Administrasie verbonde is”. Bosman dink nie dat Die Stem by groot politieke vergaderings ‘onvanpas’ is nie, en dink dat dit ook by “Kultuurbyeenkomste, Laertrekke, Volkspele, groot samekomste van die Jeug, Internasionale wedstryde of byeenkomste” gehoor kan word. Uitgesluit is “Bruilofte, Danspartye, Skemerpartye, Bioskope, Kampe, Toneelopvoerings, Konserte, Pieknieks”. Die rede wat hy hiervoor verskaf is dat dit ’n navolging sou wees van “die Engelse gebruik en dit is deels monargisties-tradisioneel, deels doelbewuste imperialistiese propaganda”. Die Stem is dus ’n anti-Britse ruimte, maar meer nog: dit beset ruimtes van die staat. In hierdie ontluikende diskoers is Die Stem as simbool nie meer ’n ruimte wat betrek word nie, dit is ’n ding met ’n plek.
Vir prof. A.N. Pelzer van die Universiteit van Pretoria is ’n Volkslied

… ’n verhewe uiting van die standhoudende aspirasies wat diep in die volksiel leef. Dit dui op die verlange dat volk en Staat sal voortbestaan en dit dien as ’n middel om die volk saam te snoer tot ’n hegte eenheid en hom also te sterk om die verhewe ideale wat vir volk en staat gekoester word, te verwesenlik. Dit styg uit bo die tydelike en dui op ewige en onverganklike waardes.

Die Stem is ’n metafisiese ruimte van aspirasie en idealisme. Daar kan slegs reg daaraan geskied word deur dit uit te voer by “byeenkomste waar die oogmerk van die byeenkoms nie tot homself beperk is nie maar die tendens inhou om waardes te wek wat ook vir die toekoms betekenis sal hê”, aldus Pelzer. Hy vrees ook dat Die Stem misbruik kan word, te wete deur Die Stem aan dieselfde “laagvloerse behandeling van die Engelse volkslied” te onderwerp. Die transendentale is nie ’n Engelse ruimte nie.
Die Afrikaanse Kultuurraad van Pretoria se intervensie oor hierdie belangrike saak het die FAK tot verdere ondersoek gedring. ’n Opinie is aangevra (en verkry) van die Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU), wat die sing van die lied by skoolfunksies aanbeveel het “om by die jeug van ons land gesonde vaderlandsliefde in te skerp”. Na al hierdie beraadslaging word daar ’n besluit geneem tydens ’n vergadering van die Musiekkommissie van die FAK op 25 April 1953:

Die vergadering beveel by die FAK aan om dit onder die volk te propageer:
a) Dat ‘Die Stem’ alleen gesing word by geleenthede wat landsverteenwoordigende waarde het;
b) dat daarteen gewaak moet word dat ‘Die Stem’ nie in dieselfde gebruik as ‘The Queen’ beland nie;
c) dat waar ‘Die Stem’ wel gespeel word, dit in sy geheel en nie verbrokkel gedoen moet word nie;
d) dat by die afsluiting van byeenkomste ander liedere bv. Afrikaners Landgenote gesing word.

Dit is belangrik om te registreer wat hier besig was om te gebeur: die kontrole, die anti-Britse sentiment, die van-mense-verwyderde estetika van ’n museumstuk wat gepropageer is. Die gevoel dat Die Stem nie net ’n lied was nie, maar ’n mistieke sleutel tot die Afrikanervolk se selfstandigheid. Dit is dus nie verrassend nie, dat wanneer Die Stem in 1957 as enigste amptelike Volkslied van die Republiek aanvaar word, geen oortreffende trap genoegsaam is om die vreugde in die geledere van die lied se kurators in die FAK te beskryf nie. ’n Telegram van gelukwense word aan die eersteminister gestuur:

Aan: Sy Edele Die Eerste Minister, Die Volksraad, Kaapstad

Die verklaring van Die Stem van Suid-Afrika tot amptelike en enigste Volkslied van Suid-Afrika is vir elkeen van die duisende lede van die FAK ’n bron van die hoogste sielsverrukking. Daarmee is ’n lang gekoesterde volksideaal verwesenlik en een van die belangrikste bakens op ons weg na volwaardige nasieskap geplant. Daarmee verdwyn die laaste van die voormalige veroweraar se simbole wat vir meer as ’n halfeeu triomferend oor ons getroon het. Ons bring hulde aan U Edele persoonlik en aan elke lid van die Regering.

Van: Sekretaris FAK

Hoogste sielsverrukking! Een van die belangrikste bakens op ons weg na volwaardige nasieskap. Die Stem het die Afrikanerpartituur van nasieskap geword. Drie dae na die versending van hierdie telegram, skryf die voorsitter van die FAK, prof. H.B. Thom, ’n brief van gelukwensing aan J.G. Strydom waarin hy die belang van Die Stem as volg verwoord:

U het die Afrikanerdom, en inderdaad die ganse Suid-Afrika, ’n belangrik stap vorentoe gevoer op die pad van volle, ongekwalifiseerde geestelike selfstandigheid, wat so ’n onmisbare voor-vereiste vir ware ekonomiese en staatkundige selfstandigheid uitmaak. Ek voel oortuig daarvan dat die Geskiedenis nog eendag die enorme betekenis van u leiding in verband met ons volkslied op treffende wyse en in sy volle omvang sal laat sien.

Volle, ongekwalifiseerde geestelike selfstandigheid. Dit is een formulering van wat die betekenis van hierdie lied was in die ore van die Afrikaners van daardie tyd. Maar selfs nadat Die Stem as enigste amptelike Volkslied van die Republiek aanvaar is, het die beheersug daaroor in die geledere van Afrikanerleiers nie verdwyn nie. Geestelike selfstandigheid is, helaas, nie ’n waarborg vir goeie smaak nie. En nie net moes die melodie volksbesit wees en bly nie, maar ook daardie verkankerende korrupsie waarteen doktor Con de Villiers gewaarsku het, afwykende harmonie, moes as volksvreemd uit Die Stem verwyder word. ’n FAK Musiekkommissie-notule van 12 Maart 1960 dokumenteer die volgende bespreking:

Mnr. A. Hartman rapporteer dat die SAUK ’n plaat van Gideon Fagan se verwerking van Die Stem van Suid-Afrika op die mark wou bring met die versoek dat die Regering goedkeuring daaraan gee as die aanvaarde amptelike verwerking. Die Musiekkommissie se beskouing is dat die verwerking nie aanvaarbaar is nie, veral daar dit die harmonie ingrypend verander, en gee voorkeur aan die verwerking van ds. M.L. de Villiers.
Mnr. A. Hartman meld ook dat dr. F.C.L. Bosman, voorsitter van die S.A. Musiekraad, prof. [Friedrich] Hartman (sic) van die Universiteit van die Witwatersrand, se mening oor die saak ingewin het. Laasgenoemde se mening, wat in Engels opgestel is, word aan die Kommissie voorgelees. Daaruit blyk dit dat hy ds. M.L. de Villiers se verwerking op tegniese punte aanval.
Mnr. A. Hartman se mening is dat die stempel geplaas moet word op wat in ons volkstradisie pas en nie juis op die beste tegniese toonsettings nie.
Dr. G.G. Cillíe wys daarop dat prof. Hartman (sic) die verwerking van Gideon Fagan so in die superlatief aanprys en dié van ds. M.L. de Villiers so radikaal verdoem, dat ons beslis kan sê dat dit nie ’n objektiewe en wetenskaplike mening is nie en dat dit daarom geheel-en-al verwerp kan word.

Op 14 Maart 1960 word ’n brief namens die FAK se Musiekkommissie aan prof. H.B. Thom geskryf, vermoedelik deur die FAK se sekretaris. In hierdie brief word ’n ‘dringende saak’ geopper, naamlik die beplande plaatopname van Die Stem deur die SAUK. Die bron van ongelukkigheid is die Fagan ‘vierstemmige verwerking’ wat deur prof. Friedrich Hartmann aangeprys is:

Ons het ook die (Engelse) kommentaar van prof. Hartman (sic) voor ons gehad. Die inhoud daarvan is kortliks dat die M.L. de Villiers-verwerking hopeloos is en die Fagan-verwerking foutloos is. Die Musiekkommissie is van mening dat so ’n absolute verdoeming van die een en absolute ophemeling van die ander nie as ’n wetenskaplik-objektiewe beoordeling aanvaar kan word nie.

En dan volg die doodsteek:

Die Fagan-verwerking se tempo van 60 kwartnote per minuut is onaanvaarbaar stadig en is blykbaar ’n nabootsing van God Save the Queen se tempo.

Die Stem word verengels deurdat dit meer soos ’n himne en minder soos ’n mars gespeel word. Maar die antagonisme teenoor alles wat Engels is, van die karakter van die Engelse nasionale lied tot die voortdurende beklemtoning van die negatiewe kommentaar as ‘in Engels’ maak dit duidelik dat die motiewe hier sterk geanker is in nasionalistiese diskoerse. Dat daar ’n onderliggende wantroue is teenoor ‘die beste tegniese toonsettings’ is duidelik, en dat hierdie wantroue geleë kan wees in die (onbewuste) bevestiging van die Afrikaanse woord as potensieel kwesbaar vir ‘volksvreemde’ harmonie, is ’n ryk gedagte. Die kleinlike Afrikanerpolitiek wat agter hierdie polemiek woed word puntsgewys deur die briefskrywer aan Thom verduidelik. Kortliks is dit ’n “set” deur die “volkvyande van die Afrikaner” om Gideon Fagan as hoofdirigent van die SAUK aangestel te kry, eerder as die voorsitter van die Musiekkommissie van die FAK, Anton Hartman. Of Friedrich Hartmann se opinie musikaal verantwoord is, is nie ter sake nie:

Die opinies wat deur hulle ingewin is, is slegs van mense wat hoegenaamd nie in ons Afrikaanse volkslewe staan nie. As volksliedere en harmoniesering [sic] daarvan, suiwer op musikale perfektheid beoordeel moet word, sou Die Stem in die eerste plek nooit aanvaar gewees het nie.

’n Brief met ’n appèl dat die M.L. de Villiers-toonsetting deur die regering as amptelike toonsetting erken word, is vervolgens ook deur die FAK aan dr. H.F. Verwoerd gestuur.


Wat sou ’n mens kon aflei uit hierdie erbarmlike politiek oor harmonisering, oor geskiktheid van plek en geleentheid, oor waardigheid en gewigtigheid? Beslis dat daar niks neutraal aan hierdie lied is nie, en dat hierdie politieke lading wat aan Die Stem kleef nie slegs van ons tyd is en deur die ‘vyande van die Afrikaner’ terugskouend versin word nie, maar histories deur Afrikaners aangevoor en verstaan is. Ook dat die soort verstikkende beheer wat die Afrikaner se Republiek sou kenmerk ook hierdie lied in selfverheerlikende middelmatigheid sou knel. Laastens dat ook musiek nie die konkelary van die Broeders kon vryspring nie.
Die Stem as Afrikaanse herinneringsplek: Goldblatt se tragiese leegheid, Brink se martelaarsdirge, Van Niekerk se beseëlende kluitklap op die kis van die Republiek, Coetzee se weergawe van die hel, Con de Villiers se ‘poids et majesté’, Anton Hartman se volkstradisie, H.B. Thom se ‘geestelike selfstandigheid’. Verskillende herinneringe in konflik met mekaar, sprekend van verskillende geskiedenisse.



PV 202 1/2/1/4/2/2/1, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
PV 202 1/2/3/4/2/2/1, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
PV 202 1/2/3/4/2/2/3, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
PV 202 2/4/1/3/1/4, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.


Brink, A.P. Kennis van die aand. Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau [1973] 1983.
Coetzee, J.M. Age of iron. Londen: Penguin 1990.
Die sneeu van anderjare. Kaapstad: Tafelberg 1976.
Goldblatt, D. South Africa: the structure of things then. Kaapstad: Oxford University Press 1998.
Hyer, B. “Tonality”, in: T. Christiensen (red.). The Cambridge history of Western music theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002, 726-752.
Lüdemann, W. “‘Uit die diepte van ons see’: an archetypal interpretation of selected examples of Afrikaans patriotic music”, in: SAMUS 23, 2003, 13-42.
Muller, S. “Exploring the aesthetics of reconciliation: rugby and the South African national anthem”, in: SAMUS 21, 2001, 19-38.
Soete inval: nagelate geskrifte van Con de Villiers. Kaapstad: Tafelberg 1979.
Van Niekerk, M. Agaat. Kaapstad: Tafelberg 2004.

Vergelyk die bespreking van die retoriek van tonaliteit in Brian Hyer se “Tonality”, in: T. Christiensen (red.), The Cambridge history of Western music theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 726-752, veral p. 733.
Hierdie essay handel nie oor die geskiedenis of ideologiese konteks en betekenis van ‘Die Stem’ nie. Meer kan oor hierdie aspekte gelees word in S. Muller, “Exploring the aesthetics of reconciliation: rugby and the South African national anthem”, in: SAMUS 21, 2001, 19-38; Vergelyk ook W. Lüdemann se “Uit die diepte van ons see: an archetypal interpretation of selected examples of Afrikaans patriotic music”, in: SAMUS 23, 2003, 13-42.
D. Goldblatt, South Africa: the structure of things then (Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1998), 154 en 243.
A.P. Brink, Kennis van die aand (Kaapstad: Human & Rousseau, [1973] 1983), 314.
J.M. Coetzee, Age of iron (Londen: Penguin, 1990), 181.
M. van Niekerk. Agaat (Kaapstad: Tafelberg, 2004), 701.
Vergelyk lêer PV 202 2/4/1/3/1/4, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Vergelyk lêer PV 202 2/4/1/3/1/4, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Vergelyk Soete inval: nagelate geskrifte van Con de Villiers (Kaapstad: Tafelberg, 1979), 26-27 en 50-51. Vergelyk ook Die sneeu van anderjare (Kaapstad: Tafelberg, 1976), 72.
Lêer PV 202 2/4/1/3/1/4, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Lêer PV 202 2/4/1/3/1/4, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Lêer PV 202 2/4/1/3/1/4, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Lêer PV 202 2/4/1/3/1/4, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Vergelyk brief van 14 Februarie 1953, PV 2/4/1/3/1/4, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Vergelyk notule van die vergadering van die Musiekkommissie, 25 April 1953, PV 202 1/2/3/4/2/2/1, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein. Vergelyk ook Bylae A by die agenda van die Musiekkommissievergadering van 6 Julie 1954, getiteld “Verslag van die FAK-kommissie insake ‘Die Stem’ soos gewysig deur die Afrikaanse Nasionale Kultuurraad”, PV 202 1/2/1/4/2/2/1, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Sien telegram van 3 Mei 1957, PV 202 2/4/1/3/1/4, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Brief van H.B. Thom aan J.G. Strydom, 6 Mei 1957, PV 202 2/4/1/3/1/4, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Notule van ’n vergadering van die FAK Musiekkommissie, 12 Maart 1960, PV 202 1/2/3/4/2/2/3, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Lêer PV 202 2/4/1/3/1/4, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Brief aan H.B. Thom, 14 Maart 1960; Lêer PV 202 2/4/1/3/1/4, INEG, Universiteit van die Vrystaat, Bloemfontein.
Die brief is gedateer 21 Maart 1960. Ontvangs is deur die eersteminister se kantoor erken op 28 Maart 1960 en ’n volledige antwoord is op 25 Mei 1960 deur die sekretaris van die eersteminister aan die FAK gestuur. Hierin het die regering wyslik besluit om “onsydig” te staan ten opsigte van “alle harmoniserings of verwerkings van die komposisie vir orkes of stemme of wat ook al”, met dien verstande dat sodanige verwerkings “binne die raamwerk van die erkende komposisie bly en met waardigheid en toewyding en by gepaste geleenthede uitgevoer word”.

June 18, 2016

Music, Archives, People: A FUTURE BEYOND WHITE TEARS

Filed under: stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 12:32 pm

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June 11, 2016


Filed under: kaganof short films,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 4:24 am

Archiving Whiteness: The Charlie Weich Collection
produced by Africa Open
directed by Aryan Kaganof
oration by Stephanus Muller
sang Mimi Coertse
A sequence of undesired openings made their way through the fold of things, literally imbricating the fabrication of everything called The Charlie Weich Collection and even the not called yet or the uncalled for were on the score of what the soil remembers and what the snake forgets. The film asks the question What’s the point of archiving whiteness when it’s dead?

April 30, 2016

an interview with STEPHANUS MULLER about NAGMUSIEK

Filed under: stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 9:01 pm


January 15, 2016

Murray La Vita interviews Stephanus Muller about NAGMUSIEK

Filed under: stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 1:34 pm


first published here: http://www.netwerk24.com/Stemme/Murray-La-Vita/murray-la-vita-gesels-met-stephanus-muller-20160115

January 4, 2016

Happy Birthday Stephanus Muller!

Filed under: caelan,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 7:27 am


December 31, 2015

…om leemtes te vul…

Filed under: stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 6:02 pm

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first published here: http://www.netwerk24.com/Vermaak/Boeke/wat-lees-woordsmouse-20151224

December 18, 2015

OSCAR HEMER on Threnody For The Victims of Marikana

Filed under: 2014 - Marikana Symphony,Marietjie Pauw,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 11:07 pm





an excerpt from Stellenbosch Stomp

CHRIS WALTON reviews Stephanus Muller’s NAGMUSIEK

Filed under: reviews,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 12:48 pm


December 4, 2015


Filed under: stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 12:11 pm

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first published here: http://www.netwerk24.com/Vermaak/Boeke/tweekuns-vir-nagmusiek-buys-daag-uit-ester-vra-om-film-te-word-20151119

December 3, 2015

stephanus muller says #rhodesmustfall

Filed under: stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 9:19 am


first published here: http://www.litnet.co.za/stephanus-muller-se-woord-van-die-jaar-2015/

November 27, 2015

stephanus muller’s nagmusiek wins both fiction and non-fiction prizes

Filed under: stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 8:09 pm

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first published here: http://bookslive.co.za/blog/2015/11/20/hoe-kon-nagmusiek-deur-stephanus-muller-vir-beide-fiksie-en-niefiksie-boekpryse-wen/

November 26, 2015

Bronwyn Law-Viljoen and Stephanus Muller

Filed under: just good friends,stephanus muller — ABRAXAS @ 4:26 pm


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