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Kirby Collection of Musical Instruments: South African College of Music

23 May 2014 - 15:45
Professor Percival R. Kirby performing upon the ”Serpent”, a 300 year old wind instrument
Professor Percival R. Kirby performing upon the ”Serpent”, a 300 year old wind instrument.

Percival Kirby was an internationally acclaimed historian and musicologist and is regarded as a pioneer in the field of South African musicology. In the early 1930s, while Professor of Music at the University of the Witwatersrand, he began a study of the musical practices of South African people and became aware that the music of many local communities was disappearing.  

Through field trips, he built up a large collection of musical instruments made and played by indigenous Southern African groups prior to 1934. This collection of more than 1,000 musical instruments is housed at the South African College of Music. It includes instruments made and played by all indigenous Southern African groups.

You can view the digitised collection on UCT Scholar.