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The IsiXhosa language of South Africa is a rich historic language that has been preserved aurally through generations. The distinct clicks in this language, made in the mouth, are a characteristic spoken feature. Although IsiXhosa follows the Roman alphabet, individual letters require the pronunciation of different clicks, each having a different sound quality. These particular sounds will change depending on the interaction of the tongue and teeth within the mouth. Alongside this rich historic language is the practice of herbal healing, performed by individuals called Sangomas. A Sangoma’s primary goal is to communicate with the ancestors and to provide spiritual guidance to individuals seeking help. Before practicing herbal healing, a Sangoma must undergo several stages of initiation. These stages comprise a series of unforeseen peculiar events and/or a period of sickness, dreams and acceptance. Camagu, in four movements for soprano vocalist and chamber ensemble, demonstrated how the use of these clicks can be incorporated and integrated into contemporary Western classical composition through the use of text from the language and distinct clicks as soundscapes within the work. It also explores how using the journey of the Sangomas inspired a narrative that is conveyed through text, derived from quotes of practicing Sangomas.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 11, 2022