What are familiar songs for the BaYaka?

  • English language proficiency required
  • Amsterdam

Website Music Cognition Group at the University of Amsterdam

This project is part of a series of studies contributing to an interdisciplinary research agenda on musicality (Honing, 2022). The main aim is to develop engaging listening games that allow for probing musicality in a variety of geographical regions.

Project description
For this project we are looking for a motivated scholar, wanting to help us selecting familiar tunes for the BaYaka people, a hunter-gatherer society living in Congo (Lewis, 2013). We will use this selection of songs in several listening experiments / games for a field trip planned for May/June 2024.

For these musical games, suitable fragments have to be selected from a database (provided by dr Janmaat) of existing onsite recordings (both audio and video) and documented, and potentially rerecorded. Additionally, a large collection of audiofragments studied and made available by Louis Sarno (Sarno, 1993), Simha Arom (Arom, 2010) and others could be used. This project is ideal for a musicology student with an interest in both empirical/cognitive methods and/or the music of Central Africa.

The outcome of the project will be a corpus of high-quality audio fragments and a report carefully motivating, documenting and describing these fragments, that can be used in our foreseen experiments (i.e. the matching pairs game).

N.B. The candidate will participate in regular research meetings with the WP3 workgroup, planned from October 2023 until April 2024, preparing for the experiments with the BaYaka in 2024. N.B. This project is part of a larger, funded, interdisciplinary project with deadlines that will not align with most UvA course programs.

BA in Musicology, Antropology or related field;
Ethnomusicological skills and/or interest
Interest in the field of music cognition

prof. dr H. Honing <honig@uva.nl>

Arom, S. (2010). Corroborating external observation by cognitive data in the description and modelling of traditional music. Musicae Scientiae, 14(2_suppl), 295-306. doi: 10.1177/10298649100140S216.

Honing, H. (2022). Unravelling our capacity for music (Research Proposal NWO-OC). [Pure]

Lewis J. (2013). A cross-cultural perspective on the significance of music and dance to culture and society: insight from BaYaka Pygmies. Language, music, and the brain: a mysterious relationship (ed. & Arbib M), pp. 45–65. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. doi: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262018104.003.0002.

Sarno, L. (1993). Song from the Forest: My Life among the Ba-Benjelle Pygmies. Houghton Mifflin. Boston. Field recordings: Pitt Rivers Museum.

To apply for this job email your details to d.j.baker@uva.nl