Cara Stacey

Cara Stacey
North-West University | NWU · School of Music

Doctor of Philosophy (Music)


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Cara Stacey is researcher and musician working in southern Africa. She is a Senior Lecturer in African Music at North-West University. She holds a PhD in African Music (University of Cape Town), an MMus in Musicology (Edinburgh) and an MMus in Musical Performance from SOAS (Uni. of London). Cara is the ICTM Country Liaison Officer for eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) and an executive committee member for the South African Society for Research in Music.
Additional affiliations
January 2019 - January 2020
University of Cape Town
  • PostDoc Position


Publications (22)
Disa is a composition for nyunga-nyunga lamellophone and jazz guitar by South African musicians Cara Stacey and Keenan Ahrends. It was composed for the experimental, interdisciplinary trio, The Texture of Silence, and recorded by Stacey and Ahrends in early 2021. After being performed in a series of virtual concerts during 2020, the work formed par...
Musical Bows of Southern Africa brings together current scholarly research that documents a rich regional diversity as well as cultural relationships in bow music knowledge and contemporary practices. The book is framed as a critical appraisal of traditional ethnomusicological studies of the region – complementing pioneering studies and charting co...
Conference Paper
This paper discusses a perpetual flute machine from scholar and engineer Abu al-Izz Isma’il bin al-Razzaz al-Jazari’s text “The book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices” from 1206. This manuscript was completed in 1204 or 1206 in Diyar Bakr in upper Mesopotamia and the Donald Hill English translation of the manuscript is brought together b...
Conference Paper
This presentation reflects on an artistic production created between 2017 and 2018 as part of a Mellon-funded, inter-institutional research project titled: ‘Re-centring AfroAsia: Musical and human migrations in the pre-colonial period 700-1500 AD’ (University of Cape Town, University of the Western Cape, University of the Witwatersrand, Ambedkar Un...
Conference Paper
The first International Bow Music Conference in 2016 provided the opportunity for Cara Stacey (Cape Town, South Africa) and Jason Finkelman (Urbana, IL, USA) to meet and discover a shared interest in performing improvised music that incorporates musical bows across a stylistically broad spectrum of new music practice. In separate papers at the inau...
Conference Paper
Drawing on the writings of Dwight Conquergood and his formulation of the 'ethical incomplete', this presentation will feature a discussion of my recent compositional and research work. I aim to discuss the challenges and opportunities in bridging ethnomusicological research, and compositional and performance practice. In 2015, I released a collabor...
Conference Paper
This paper investigates the current challenges facing ethnomusicology and African music studies in contemporary southern Africa. Within this fragmented and contentious environment, the paper examines a recent regional touring project and on-going concert series, the ‘Afrikan Freedom Principle’, as a case study in performative, educational and trans...
Conference Paper
This paper investigates how the contemporary performers of the Swazi gourd-resonated bow, the makhweyane, create new music. Since David Rycroft’s study of Swazi bow music in the 1960s and 1970s, musical bows have almost disappeared in Swaziland. They are played by a handful of elderly people, each appearing to see him or herself the last bearer of...
Conference Paper
My research investigates the music of the makhoyane gourd-resonated musical bow and the music that musicians compose for it. There are few remaining musicians who play this instrument and the majority of these are elderly men and women, based in the economically marginalised rural areas of this small country. In Swaziland, national “culture” and po...
Conference Paper
'Ligwalagwala' is a multi-movement composition created from makhoyane musical bow songs composed during my PhD research. The work is written for voice, makhoyane bow, visuals, and electronics. The doctoral research investigates how this Swazi gourd-resonated bow and its music are representative of individual artistic expression in Swaziland. It exa...
Conference Paper
This paper investigates how the main Swazi gourd-resonated bow, the makhoyane or umakhweyane, and its music are representative of individual artistic expression in Swaziland. Further, I will examine how the makhoyane interacts with the greater Swazi national cultural imaginary. I study compositional methods and modes of musical transmission amongst...
Conference Paper
This paper investigates how the makhoyane, a gourd-resonated musical bow, and its music interact with the greater Swazi national cultural imaginary. Since David Rycroft’s study of Swazi bow music in the 1960s and 1970s, musical bows have almost disappeared in Swaziland, played now by a handful of elderly people. In 2013, King Mswati III called for...


Cited By


Project (1)
Re-Centring AfroAsia is a multi-pronged research, mapping, and archiving project supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.