The Sunday Independent
Tabane, master of Malombo, earns academic a doctorate
UNIVERSITY of Pretoria academic Sello Galane wants to bang the drums loudly after his thesis on multi-instrumentalist Philip Tabane – famous for his Malombo sound – earned him a doctorate in musicology on Tuesday.
Galane, also a musician, received the doctorate after investigating the challenges facing the conceptual development of indigenous music.
“Tabane was used as a case study because of the empirical data he had given me in 1998 about his career spanning some 35 years,” he said.
Galane, who was celebrating his success at a function in Midrand yesterday, said he was so inspired by the music of Tabane that he had urged the University of Venda to award him a doctorate 12 years ago.
“I had to write up 100 pages motivating and pulling empirical data on how Tabane’s originality got the attention even of greatest of musicians like Miles Davis,” he said.
“Everyone who left the country at the time wanted to meet people like Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Herbie Hancock, but when he went to New York in 1971 they wanted to meet Tabane. ”
Galane said he took the music of Tabane on a roadshow in 1998 during which he got to know and interview the musician well and this culminated in Tabane’s doctorate.
“I asked him whether it was true that he said Miles Davis was not going to do justice to his music, and he said, ‘Precisely. I do music of the healing spirit of Malombo and he thinks I’m just making music. He had a lot to learn’,” Galane said.
After being lauded at the University of Venda, Tabane gave Galane a suitcase of memories with photos and documents going back to his childhood and acquiring his first guitar. At the time the SABC was not playing his music.
Galane also said his hero did not want to be classified as a jazz musician. “He always tells me I play Malombo, this is the music that my mother taught me.”