Keith Goddard: the composer

Keith Goddard started his musical education at the College of Music in Harare and from 1979 to 1982 studied composition and electro-acoustic music at Durham University in Englandunder David Lumsdaine and John Casken. His early composition works like “Afterthought” (1982), “Kutamba” (1983) and “Kunzwa” (1985) were dealing with the end of the liberation war and the emerging situation in newly independent Zimbabwe. Later on he also taught music and composition himself at the Zimbabwe College of Music.

Tapiwa: An Opera in Shona language

“I have been commissioned by Artists in Action in Harare, Zimbabwe, to compose the score for an opera entitled ‘Tapiwa’. It is based on a two-hundred year-old legend involving a dispute concerning a woman (Tendai) not being able to produce a child by her husband (Tambo). The opera opens with discussion about her being returned to her village. A devious spirit medium (Svikiro) plots to have his way with Tendai by announcing that she is dedicated to the River God (Njuzu). After the dedication, she ‘miraculously’ produces a child (Tapiwa). But the rains have failed, there is drought and the people of the village blame their misfortune on three-year-old Tapiwa whom they accuse of being a witch. They shun and marginalise her and subsequently stone her to death.


The opera is the first in Shona, a Zimbabwean language spoken by over 70% of the people in this country. It is in two acts and based on a two-hundred year old story from the Shashe River near Great Zimbabwe Ruins. The libretto is by Susan Hains, a local producer and director and the translation is by Chirikure Chirikure, a poet and musician of note. I was asked to compose the score because of my long-term experience with Shona music which has involved some intensive study”. (Keith Goddard: Application for temporary resident composer at the University of Graz).


The Violin Concerto (commissioned by the Cultural Capital of Europe Linz 2009 / unfinished)

“Although this serial technique, and other musical techniques, such as inaudible palindromes and 'secret' codes are borrowed from Berg's compositional toolbox, the soundworld is essentially different. The last section, for example, with its pulse-line construction, might be said to have more in common with a Zimbabwean mbira piece than with the so-called Second Viennese School of the early 20th Century.” from: Keith Goddard * Violin Concerto * Overall Concept, (unfinished)“


Florence and her friend Nyasha are two 15 year old girls who live in a little village in Rhodesia. We are in 1975 and the "Chimurenga" (the war for independence) is raging. One night a group of "freedom warriors" come in to pick up volunteers. Florence, who likes action, and Nyasha, the intellectual, decide to enroll. From now on they will be known as "Flame" and "Liberty".

Directed by: Ingrid Sinclair
Written by: Ingrid Sinclair, Barbara Jago
Starring: Dick 'Chinx' Chigaira, Robina Chombe, Sithembiso Gumbo, Jackie Jojo, Marian Kunonga, Norman Madawo, Ulla Mahaka, Moise Matura
Produced by: Simon Bright, Joel Phiri
Original Music by: Keith Goddard


“The Monolith”

[an electro-acoustic composition by Keith Goddard, based on field recordings collected in the Tonga area and the nyele ngoma buntibe composition, ToendeTukulime, by Peter Mwembe. THE MONOLITH was realised in 1997 by Keith Goddard and Klaus Hollinetz in the OK studios, Linz, Austria.]


THE MONOLITH forms part of a larger sound installation, “Wounded Earth and they Greet us with Guns“ which explores the world of the Valley Tonga, a marginalised people who live on both sides of the Zambezi River in the Binga district of Zimbabwe and the Gwembe Valley in Zambia. The lives of the Tonga were severely disrupted in 1957 when they were forcibly moved from their ancestral homes and relocated on higher ground to make way for the building of Kariba dam.


The original concept is an extension of a theme which first appeared in a short story by Arthur C Clarke and which was later expanded in the Stanley Kubrick film "2001 Space Odessy" where the music associated with the monolith is the requiem of György Ligeti.

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