African Diaspora Music Project

By christie@songofamerica

Check out an new amazing online resource from Dr. Louise Toppin and her team: the African Diaspora Music Project, available at The African Diaspora Music Project seeks to create a repository for the concert works (those intended for the concert stage; a.k.a. classical works) of composers of the African Diaspora. (The African Diaspora in this context is defined as those composers throughout the world descended from people of West and Central Africa); to provide access to scores, recordings, and programmatic information about these composers and their extant works for students, teachers, professionals and presenters; to encourage the research, exploration and performance of these works; and to assist students who wish to enter the George Shirley African American Art Song and Operatic Aria Competition with appropriate repertoire choices.

Although much interest has been shown in this repertoire by scholars and performers, there is also much frustration because it has been difficult to locate and oftentimes not in print. The current phase of the African Diaspora Music Project focuses on the art song (other genres will follow) and delivers a searchable online database and printed book (release to follow) that organizes more than 2000 entries to help further the study of this neglected repertoire. The project will continue to evolve as new entries are created, and additional media & supporting materials are added in the near future for each entry.

The database is organized and searchable by several fields e.g. composer, title of work, cycle, publisher, and poet. You can also search specifically for women composers, spirituals or search by pre-assigned stylistic periods. In addition, each record includes the key, range, date of composition, the presence of dialect, and notes about the composition such as dedications or first performances. If a work appears in more than one collection, citations are given to help researchers find any of the collections for a particular work.

Next & Previous Articles