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Afro-Sonic Mapping

Tracing Aural Histories via Sonic Transmigrations
October–November 2019

Satch Hoyt | Afro-Sonic Map – Atlantic Blue (2017) | Courtesy the artist

Satch Hoyt | Afro-Sonic Map – Atlantic Blue (2017) | Courtesy the artist

What musical patterns have been preserved in the sounds of the African Diaspora, thus defying time and forced migration? What sonic affinities exist between Dakar and New Orleans or between Lagos, Kingston, and New York City? What traces were left behind in sounds and rhythms by appropriations, by transfer and transformation processes?

Afro-Sonic Mapping takes early music recordings from Angola, Nigeria, the Congo, and Senegal as its starting point. They were recorded by the European anthropologists Leo Frobenius, Northcote Thomas, and Karl Edvard Laman, among others, between 1890 and 1907. During their field trips to Central and West Africa, they used the newly invented phonograph to compile sonic documents, some of which can be found today in the Berlin Phonogramm Archiv and the British Library.

What resonances do these anthropological recordings produce today? The artist and musician Satch Hoyt recontextualizes these sonic signifiers. He perceives them as acoustic mappings of history—evidence of enslavement and expulsion, but also of resistance and empowerment. Rhythmic codes are inscribed in them that still have an impact today. Hoyt takes the early anthropological recordings back to their places of origin, such as Luanda and Kinshasa, and tracks the music of the Black Atlantic as far as Salvador de Bahia and Lisbon. In this way, he is searching for musical connections between the historical sound recordings and contemporary sounds of post-colonial cities. He is introducing the historical rhythms to local musicians and developing new music together with them.

Satch Hoyt documents his research on contemporary music, fashion and dances, notes and interviews with academics and artists in a Blog. In November 2019 he will present the project at HKW.

Satch Hoyt is a visual artist and musician, currently living in Berlin. His practice is related to the Transnational African Diaspora, and it is centered in the cultural and political role of sonicity. His sculptures and installations are accompanied with sound while his paintings and drawings can be read and performed as graphic scores. Most recently, his work has been presented, among others, in Respect Hip Hop Style and Wisdom, Oakland Museum of California (2018); Dak’Art Biennial (2018) and Documenta 14 (2017). Recent performances include Hair Combing Cycle (2017) and Sonic Shadow with Earl Harvin and Dirk Leyers (2016). Hoyt has composed a number of songs with Grace Jones; noteworthy is 7-Day Weekend, which is on the triple platinum soundtrack album of the Eddie Murphy movie Boomerang (1992). He is currently working on two albums: Galaxy X and Cleopatra’s Chariot with Earl Harvin.

Part of Kanon-Fragen

October–November 2019

Installation, concerts, performances, lectures, film screening

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