It is often a fear that in preserving culture, many may need to interpret long held beliefs, and in doing so run the risk of being misunderstood.

The Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) helps users transcend this limitation through its Indigenous African Music (I AM) transcription website, which launched on 30 September.

“Imagine international superstars performing on Mbila, Uhadi, or Isitolotolo. How wonderful would it be if the great Amahubo Asendlunkulu, the traditional songs of the Zulu people, were taught in South Korean schools?” asks SAMRO chairman Nicholas Maweni.

“Have you ever considered learning to play the !Xuma, a San braced mouthbow mainly found in remote regions of Namibia?

“The I AM Transcription Project is working to make these ideas a reality by translating African works into international music notation and making them available to the world.”

The project, which has been developed by a small team within the SAMRO Foundation over the past three years, supported by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, has worked with over 30 music specialists to transcribe the indigenous music of the South African people.

“The team communicated with associated archives and artists around the country, together they slowly and carefully captured the sounds of our musical legacy and transcribed them into sheet music,” says Maweni.

Mnyani says this project is the beginning of a pan-African dream, and encourages all those who have documented or will be documenting indigenous African music to contribute towards this resource.

All they have to do is inform the I AM Project of their efforts. This will assist the project’s mission to grow the open database.