Abstract

This article uses the 2003 Canadian-South African co-production Proteus to draw together a number of strands in film musicology: a consideration of music production processes, the use of indigenous musics, and the intersections of sexuality and ethnicity in musical representation. I take the film, set on Robben Island in the eighteenth century, and explore the ways its hybrid score performs a symbolic enactment of the issues raised by the film as whole: Western appropriation of indigenous knowledge, the uncovering of buried histories of interracial same-sex relationships, and the construction of new national myths. I look at the ethical implications of the film score’s transnational cross-cultural music production processes; using interviews I conducted with the film’s composers, I consider how ‘raw’ musical material from South Africa was configured in the representation of the film’s proto-South Africans. I then examine how evidence of a neocolonial approach in the production of the score is undercut by the music itself. I argue that indigenous music is sounded in the film with the capacity to narrate affectively rather than merely to supply local colour or to patrol racial categories, and ultimately provides a compelling example of a score that eschews colonial forms of knowledge.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1753-0776
Print ISSN
1753-0768
Pages
pp. 53-76
Launched on MUSE
2016-08-19
Open Access
No
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