I have been conducting fieldwork in Cameroon focusing on sound culture. Through studying both the conventional sound culture and the urban sound culture of the youth, I examine the present state and the current trends of African sound culture. The current focus of my research is as follows:
- Theme1: Sound culture of the Baka people, Pygmy hunter-gatherers who live in the rainforest in south-east Cameroon
The richness of the Pygmy people’s sound culture is widely known not only among researchers, but also among music lovers. I myself chose this subject for research as I was attracted by the music they play; the beautiful polyphony and polyrhythm creates a unique groove. I was interested in the environment and society where this sound culture is created; and the relationship between their life and the sounds in the rainforest. Until today, I have studied sounds as a tool of interaction and the role of rhythm in everyday life. One aspect of the rich sound culture of the Pygmy people is the oral tradition of storytelling called likano. In likano, a great number of people in a crowd actively participate in singing, and clap with the beat, not just the ones who narrate with words. Their stories contain the wisdom of life in forest and their unique insight which can be considered as a valuable cultural heritage. In recent years, however, the number of young people who do not know the content of likano or the rhythms and melodies is increasing. I hope that through my study I can pass down their knowledge to future generations and also spread it further across the world.
- Theme2: Hip-hop culture in the capital city, Yaoundé
I am focusing on hip-hop culture generated by the youths in Yaoundé, especially on rap music and the content of its lyrics. Through what I observe from their daily life by living with them, I study the processes and significance of creating a culture, by contemporary Cameroonian youths.