CHAT online

Response Paper: David Fanshawe and Traditional Music of Africans

During his lifetime, David Fanshawe was attempting to show the beauty of music of Africans and people who lived in the Pacific region to the whole world. He also made experiments with genres: the pieces he composed were a combination of African traditional tunes with high art classical music.

David Fanshawe’s Contribution

David Fanshawe worked hard towards achieving his goals. He was travelling all around the world during the whole life. Taking into account that most of his trips were located in Africa and Pacific region, in most cases these trips were very dangerous since there were different infections, tribal people with their cruel laws and traditions, people who were not able to understand what he was saying. However, insecurity never stopped him. This person was constantly putting his life at stake to explore traditional tunes and to make his contribution to the world music. He did not only record those wonderful tunes, but he also took photographs of people whom he met and places where he was. Taking photographs was a great idea as it could help not to forget the feelings that he experienced while he was travelling. Unfortunately, his willingness to achieve his goals ruined his first marriage. He was able to visit his family only two times a year, because of his constant trips. Moreover, he also did not have enough money to visit them more often. As a result, his first wife could not bear it anymore and left him. David Fanshawe sacrificed his personal life for the love of music.

Fortunately, his efforts had results. He succeeded in creating a piece that contained both the tunes of African traditional music and classical music. He gathered a large number of samples of different kinds of music that Africans and members of tribes in the Pacific area had performed. Some of the recordings contain tunes that people will never be able to hear live anymore, because some tribes and even nations have disappeared. Thus, he made it possible for people to find out how a particular dialect sounded. He explored not only their music, but also their unique culture.

Unfortunately, not all people valued David Fanshawe’s contribution. There were people who criticized his work. Some of them did not like the content of the pieces; others did not like the methods he had used to gain these tunes. Thus, people argue that it is not right to use somebody’s work without sharing income. He recorded many people and then used this material in a combination with his own music. However, in support of his actions, there are records that nobody will ever be able to re-record for the reason that there is no one to record anymore. Besides, those people whom he was recording knew what he was doing. If they did not want to share their culture, they would not do it. Those people who criticized the content of his work were not able to open their minds to the new kind of art. They got used to the music played in Europe and did not understand African tunes. They thought that African tunes were not worth listening to. Therefore, they treated African tunes as something weird and not worth paying attention to. Moreover, they treated David Fanshawe as someone weird, as well. Some people did not understand how valuable his work was.


I think that his actions were justifiable and he did not do anything wrong. He did not have much money to enrich members of tribes. Moreover, thirty years ago such a concept as the ownership of intellectual property did not exist. His efforts, work and contribution are too valuable to blame him for anything. Maybe David Fanshawe will be one of those artists whose work people value more after his death.


Get now