Olympias Music Foundation present Mapping Migrant Voices

Leading Manchester music charity Olympias Music Foundation (OMF) recently launched Mapping Migrant Voices, a project that aims to catalogue and map the musical and oral histories of migrant diasporas living within Greater Manchester.

The project is designed to encourage thoughtful engagement with music from different cultures in Manchester and provide an engaged, area-specific resource for researchers looking to find out more about the region’s different musical traditions.

Vocalists Singing Together for Mapping Migrant Voices

Working closely with ethnomusicologists from a range of UK Universities, Mapping Migrant Voices invites anyone connected to Greater Manchester who identifies as a migrant to share their musical experiences as part of this project. Participants will take part in informal conversations with researchers via video calling apps like Skype or Zoom (until social distancing restrictions are lifted). In these one-to-ones, researchers will garner information relating to the participants’ relationships with Manchester, the kinds of music they are involved in and how the two intersect. There will also be the opportunity to share some of the music the participants take part in via audio recording.

In tandem with the interview aspect of Mapping Migrant Voices, OMF – comprising numerous RNCM alumni – has worked to develop new software to record and present their research, that includes the inclusion of musical transcriptions, an interactive map of the whole Manchester area that will eventually be populated by entries and a function that enables users to listen back to the sounds from across their community. These findings will form an open-access interactive educational resource in the form of a web app that will be of use to members of the community and researchers alike. It’s also hoped that, once the responses are all collected, OMF will hold a showcase event to celebrate the diverse range of musical traditions that make up our city.

Project co-ordinator Marion Smith commented on the core aims of the project that aligns with much of OMF’s work – to question, deconstruct and find useful alternatives to the idea of ‘world music’: ‘So much of the time, we find that music from the Global South becomes homogenised. This music is very often generalised by region, like “South Asian music” or “Middle-Eastern music”; at its broadest, it is simply referred to as ‘Non-Western music’ or ‘World music’. MMV hopes to counteract aspects of this by providing specific examples of music from a variety of diasporic groups in Greater Manchester.’

This is the first time that a study of this scale and focus has been undertaken in the North West, and it’s hoped that Mapping Migrant Voices will be the first of many similar projects across the country in years of come.

If you’d like further information on Mapping Migrant Voices or how you can get involved, contact Marion Smith at [email protected]​ or Jo Yee Cheung at [email protected]​.

16 September 2020