South African Cultural Observatory

Getting Generation Z to log off and listen

BY 16.09.16

THE new age of smartphones has taken a lot of the attention of society away from natural surroundings and sounds.

People nowadays prefer to text rather than make a call because they loath being distracted from the music, social media or other audio and visual files they are listening to.

Kyla Rose Smith, former violinist for Freshly Ground, co-founded the Hear Be Dragons organisation. The organisation focuses on sound mapping, which is a collection of sound from the streets that will be constructed into an audible landscape of that environment.

Their most recent project is the Nyanga Williamsburg Project. This project is a global soundscaping initiative where the youth of Nyanga, Cape Town (SA) and that of Williamsburg, Brooklyn (USA) are required to record sounds from their immediate environments and make music from those sounds.

They are also given an opportunity to cross assess these audio clips by switching their environments, and this process means that the Nyanga Youth is given an opportunity to sound map in Brooklyn, and vice versa. Mzukisi Ndabeni, or Paradox, is one of the sound mappers from the Nyanga township. Paradox experiences many sounds in the Nyanga locale, but the one that grabbed his attention was that of a burning fire.

The process of gathering sound is not as informal as one would think. Artists are given journals and are required to record their experiences during the sound mapping.

Paradox had a great experience when he was afforded an opportunity by Hear Be Dragons to map sound in Brooklyn. The rapper saw that the same challenges that were being faced in Brooklyn and the South Bronx, were similar to those faced by the people in Nyanga.

The main purpose of the initiative is to get young people to appreciate their immediate environment, be able to interact with it, and in that sense be able to then identify the ills, opportunities and challenges that need to be addressed in society.

The initiative and approach is fresh and important, given the fact that so many young people are always on their phones, with their heads faced down.

In the future Hear Be Dragons, led by Smith and the Cape Town based arts educator Hanna Loewenthal, plan to recruit more youth in the organisation and pursue more mapping projects.

Adapted from The Sunday Times, September 11 2016, Page 4.
Read More [ Sunday Times September 11 2016, Page 4]

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