The RAI Blacking Lecture is named in honour of esteemed ethnomusicologist and anthropologist John Blacking (1928-1990).

The following RAI lectures have been recorded and are available online to listen to or download. Videos of other RAI events are available on our YouTube channel here.

2017 RAI Blacking Lecture by Lucy Durán

“Actions speak louder than words” – musical children and film in the “Mali-Cuba project”

Dr Lucy Durán, SOAS

This lecture focuses on a musical encounter between children from Mali and Cuba, who took part in workshops and concerts in Havana and Matanzas, Cuba in 2012. The project, entitled ‘Mali-Cuba: music across generations’ (funded by the AHRC-UK), was meticulously documented on video camera, following the daily exchange between four Malian children who had never been out of Mali before, all from celebrated hereditary lineages of musicians, and various groups of Cuban children, mostly from rumba and batá traditions.

Illustrated with video clips from the forthcoming film “Mali-Cuba” (2017), the talk follows how with little adult intervention and no language in common the children move from tentative and shy exchanges, to a gradual discovery of shared musical features, eventually spontaneously swapping instruments and even roles.

This unprecedented and unique exploration of connections between the famed musical traditions of Cuba and Mali through the eyes of children, illuminates how the medium of film is the most effective way to document childhood musicality, in which ‘actions speak louder than words’.

This lecture is available here.

2015 RAI Blacking Lecture by Martin Stokes

Music and Citizenship

On Tuesday, 10 November 2015, the School of History and Anthropology at Queen’s University Belfast hosted the prestigious Royal Anthropological Institute’s John Blacking Lecture given by Professor Martin Stokes (King’s College London) on ‘Music and Citizenship’ to a packed audience in the Council Chamber. The event celebrated the 45th anniversary of the founding of Social Anthropology and Ethnomusicology at Queen’s as Professor Blacking was the first departmental Chair.

The event was preceded by reflections on Blacking’s life and career given by distinguished ethnomusicologists Professor John Baily, Veronica Doubleday and Professor Suzel Reily. The day concluded with a superb ethnomusicology concert organised by Dr. Ioannis Tsioulakis featuring Afghan music from John Baily and Veronica Doubleday, a Greek band directed by Dr. Ioannis Tsioulakis, and a world-fusion trio led by the extraordinary violinist Claudia Schwab.

The lecture is available here.