Keith Goddard: biography

Keith Goddard was born in Bulawayo / Zimbabwe on 13th March 1960. He started his musical education at the Zimbabwe College of Music and then, from 1979 to 1982, undertook the first of two degrees in music at Durham University, England, where he completed an MA in composition in 1985. Playing the Mbira himself he was not only a promoter of Zimbabwean indigenous music and instrument making, but also a champion of human rights and a true change agent working as a Director for KUNZWANA Trust and the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ). He died after a short illness on 9th October 2009 at St Anne's Hospital in Harare. He was a man of great commitment, courage and humour.

Keith Goddard was a Zimbabwean composer and human rights activist working for Kunzwana Trust and the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ). He started his musical education at the Zimbabwe College of Music and then, from 1979 to 1982, undertook the first of two degrees in music at Durham University, England, where he studied composition under David Lumsdaine and later John Casken. During this time, he produced a number of tape pieces and vocal and instrumental compositions including a piano concerto. In 1982, he won the Durham Music Department's prestigious award for services to contemporary music.

Goddard's student instrumental works in the early eighties were mostly within the serial tradition but even his earliest electro-acoustic work exhibits certain programmatic qualities (more specifically exploring associations between electro-acoustic music and film as a way of suggesting substantive meaning through music). "Afterthought" (1982) and Kunzwa (1985) deal with the end of the Zimbabwe Liberation War and the emerging peace in the newly independent Zimbabwe.

On returning to Zimbabwe, shortly after the country's independence, Goddard was commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra to write a piece which brought together for the first time the country's European orchestra and African choirs from the townships. The resulting work, Kutamba, based on choral compositions by Basil Chidyamatamba, formed the focal point of the orchestra's 1983 concert season. Goddard returned to Durhamin 1985 to complete an MA in composition, again under John Casken.

In 1986, whilst on leave in Zimbabwe, Goddard met up with distinguished ethnomusicologist, Paul Berliner renowned for his book, The Soul of Mbira, and he became Berliner's de facto taxi driver as Berliner introduced him to numerous mbira players and other musicians. It was around this time that he also made contact with another distinguished African music researcher and musician, Andrew Tracey, whose father, Hugh Tracey, founded the International Library of African Music ILAM in Grahamstown, South Africa.

For about ten years, Goddard largely abandoned music composition in favour of research and the promotion of the work of Zimbabwean musicians and instrument makers. To this end, he founded KUNZWANA Trust in 1991. For three years he travelled the world with Zimbabwean musicians, in particular with the Bulawayo-based imbube group, Black Umfolosi. In 1994, KUNZWANA hosted the 12th Southern Africa Ethnomusicology Conference in conjunction with the newly formed Ethnomusicology Programme of the Zimbabwe College of Music. The festival, Houses of Stone, brought together over 100 researchers from various parts of Africaand elsewhere and an equal number of musicians from various parts of Africa. As a promoter and player of Zimbabwean indigenous music, Goddard has been strongly influenced in his musical thinking by African music theory and practice, especially its rhythms and textures and the role that music plays in society.

Starting in 1989, Goddard assisted with the making of a number of documentaries on Zimbabwean music, in particular that for the 1991 BBC series, On the Edge of Improvisation, directed by Jeremy Marre.

Listening to the recordings made by Hugh Tracey in 1957 in the ZambeziValleybordering Zimbabweand Zambia, Goddard was struck by the contemporary feel of some of the music of the Batonga people living in the area. This brief introduction led him to visit the area and develop a special relationship with the BaTonga people on both sides of the ZambeziRiver.

The Tonga play one of the 'big' musics of Africa, ngoma buntibe (known in Zambia as budima) in which musicians play between five and seven drums of differing sizes and thirty or more individual animal horns (nyele) whereby each contributes his or her note to the overall texture in a manner somewhat reminiscent of changeringing.

Ngoma buntibehas much to do with acoustic space and its sound would not seem out of place in any Western contemporary music setting. It is this quality that led Goddard to introduce ngoma buntibe to Austrian composers Peter Androsch, Klaus Hollinetz, Lukas Ligeti and Werner Puntigam which resulted in the electro-acoustic composition project, Six Reflections on Tonga Music, and which formed part of the 1997 Festival der Regionen during which Stadtwerkstatt Linz led the thirty-strong ngoma buntibe group, Simonga, over the Totes Gebirge mountains in Upper Austria. Goddard's contribution to the composition project was a joint work with Hollinetz, The Monolith, which reflects on Goddard's relationship with the BaTonga and their culture. A companion work, an installation, Wounded Earth, again realised in conjunction with Klaus Hollinetz, was first performed, along with The Monolith, at the 1998 Easter Festival Osterfestival in Hall / Tirol.

In 1996, Goddard produced the score for the acclaimed Zimbabwean feature film, Flame, by Zimbabwean Director, Ingrid Sinclair, which won for him and Zimbabwean singer and composer, „Chinx“ Chingaira, the coveted South African M-Net Film Award that year for best music in Africa for a feature film.

Over the years, the Tongahave been the focal point for a wider cultural exchange programme between KUNZWANA and ARGEZIM/AZFA founded by Peter Kuthan. The programme, which began in 1993 with a visit by the Austrian Duo Attwenger to Zimbabwe, has from 2001 onwards broadened into an ICT4D project in the Binga area ( and is now merged into Basilwizi Trust, supported by the Austrian Development Cooperation (BMeiA/ADA/Land OÖ) and the Dutch humanist organisation, HIVOS.