District Six Museum Sound Archive

Cape Town, South Africa
In operation since 1997
Archives (Recorded music archives)


District Six Museum Sound Archive
Tel: +27214667200
Cell: +27214667100


Cape Town
South Africa

Online presence

Based in Cape Town, South Africa, District Six Museum was established in December 1994. It is a music heritage known for working with the memories and histories of forced removals under Apartheid in South Africa. Its aim is to strengthen the music legacy through a number of projects that aim to build and sustain a living music archive.

Its Sound Archive was established in 1997 with a collection of ¼ inch reel audio tapes from the film ‘District Six’, footage from various video productions in Cape Town and a collection of jazz audio cassette and acetate disks from linguist and jazz enthusiast, Ants Kirsipuu. The archival work of the museum continues with an ongoing programme that addresses music documentation, description and research. It also empowers the community to make music and critique cultural and social meanings.

A Cape Jazz project was required to understand the complexities of the indigenisation of foreign musical influences and to study the ways in which the racial segregation regime, apartheid, affected personal and individual musical styles. This was done through collecting narratives and music of the lived experiences of approximately thirty jazz music legends in and around the city.

The popularity of the pennywhistle in township music has complex roots. An earlier project aimed to address the complexities of the pennywhistle in South African music was launched through a detailed exploration with the late kwela musician, Robert Sithole. The project was about his life as a composer and player of the pennywhistle, recording his music onto sheet and documenting audio interviews about his life.

Langarm, vastrap and square dance music has its history deeply in Southern Africa. A few of these square dances still survive but are fading as generations pass. The museum is reconstructing a canon of the key dance bands and musicians which defined this tradition in Cape Town and other parts of Southern Africa.

The museum is open for visits from Monday to Saturdays, 09h00 – 16h00 and by appointment on Sundays.

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