Earlier this year, composer, explorer and ethnomusicologist David Fanshawe died of a stroke, aged 68.

(NB not to be confused with Stuart Townend).

David Fanshawe was most well-known for his African Sanctus, which inspired me at a young age and – who knows – may even have been part of what led me to do what I do on this fascinating continent. The Sanctus is basically a mass for choir but with one key difference: authentic field recordings of African music (made in North and Eastern Africa by David himself) are played during the performance, combining with the sound of the choir with some fantastic results. Seriously uplifting stuff, although very eclectic indeed. You can see a YouTube video about the African Sanctus here and order a copy (inc. choral score) here. I’d love to conduct a choir in this one day, but it is quite a demanding work.

His eccentric personality and sense of fun and adventure are surely factors which drove him to travel to such remote locations to make recordings (I can certainly identify with all of the above). As well as Africa, he also spent a significant amount of time in the Pacific, collecting a large number of recordings there as well.

Read some good obituaries here and here and lots of tributes here.

Goodbye David – we will miss your crazy ways and superb music.

1 Comment posted on "A Tribute to one of Ethnomusicology’s Great Pioneers"
Caroline H on December 4th, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

We used to sing the African Sanctus at boarding school! I esp. remember the Lord’s Prayer.