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Sonic Spaces of the Karoo

The Sacred Music of a South African Coloured Community

By Marie Jorritsma
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Temple University Press, 2011

ISBN 978-1-4399-00239-4

224 Pages


Sonic Spaces of the Karoo is a pioneering study of the sacred music of three congregations of coloured people (a mixed-race community) in the rural town of Graaff-Reinet, South Africa. Jorritsma's fieldwork involves an investigation of the choruses, choir music, and hymns of the Karoo region to present a history of the people's religious and cultural identity in song. This music is examined as part of a living archive preserved by the community despite a legacy of oppression spanning the eras of slavery, colonialism, and apartheid.

Jorritsma's findings counteract a lingering stereotype that coloured people’s music is inferior to European or African music and that coloured people do not have a cultural identity. Sonic Spaces of the Karoo seeks to eradicate that bias and articulate a more legitimate place for these people in the contemporary landscape of South Africa.



Author’s Note
List of Illustrations
List of Music Examples
1. Introduction: The Challenges of Inscribing Coloured Voices
2. Karoo People and Places
3. Hidden Transcripts: How Hymns Reveal History
4. Senzeni na: Interrelationships Between the Music of Mission and Independent African Church Denominations
5. Singing the “Queen’s English”: Church Choirs in Kroonvale
6. Mothers of the Church: Women’s Society Music and the Politics of Gender
7. Conclusion: Reflections on Karoo Sonic Spaces


Marie Jorritsma is Senior Lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

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