A “shisa nyama” (Zulu for “burnt meat”), also known as a “bring-and-braai”, is the popular South African pastime of having a barbeque. The event brings together any type of person – friends, family or even complete strangers – to share and indulge in a feast of different meats, poultry and carbohydrates; all cooked on an open wood fire. This fun, festive environment featuring a smorgasbord of many flavours instigated the creation of this composition.
shisa nyama for mixed ensemble (2018) opens with the sizzling effect of meat on a fire from the vocalist and drums. This quickly develops into the main bass line on which the piece is anchored. The work features a texture created from a musical collage of different melodic quotations take from various styles of music. Incipits taken from western classical, jazz, and Afro-pop repertoires are all cited to further suggest the “coming together” of various styles and tastes. The work’s main (and ironically original) theme acts as the refrain to which the music anchors its ebb and flow into symphonic, waltz, kwela, atonal, improvisational and aleatoric structures. The piece gradually grows to a large climactic statement featuring all previous material being presented simultaneously – resulting in a large wall of sound with mentions of Mahler, Stravinsky, Gershwin, Paul Desmond and Brenda Fassi, among others.
shisa nyama ends like any successful party: with a bang!
Programme Note by the composer
Dedication, Awards & Acknowledges
This work won the ‘clazz’ award at the SAMRO International Scholarship for composers 2018. It also formed part of the portfolio that eventually won Asman the main scholarship for Western Classical Music composition.
Piccolo, Trumpet, Alto Saxophone, Violin, Cello, Voice, Piano, Drums and Double Bass
Year(s) of Composition:2018
21 Jul 2018