Travelling Music
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Camera, compilation, editing: Miranda van der Spek
In collaboration with Jan de Smet and Kris de Smet (storytelling)
Commissioned by Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam ( )



Travelling Music is a multiple-screen projection with three documentaries about the accordion, ukulele and brass instruments. These three films played an important role in the permanent exhibition Music World in the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam from 2009 – 2015.

The films focus on the curious wanderings of the instruments and their main performers: how the ukulele went from Portugal via Hawaii and the Moluccas to Ameland, about how the Austrian accordion came to the North of Mexico and how wind instruments were taken by soldiers and missionaries to the farthest corners of the world.

NRC NEWSPAPER 18-12-2009 by René van Peer:

After more than two years, the Tropenmuseum has a separate music department again….. The three films are also part of the department. In ten minutes they deal with instruments that have spread all over the world: accordion, ukulele and wind orchestra. Wind bands traveled with colonisers to overseas territories as a resounding symbol of power. Indigenous residents who formed their own orchestras with the wind instruments and percussion, started playing their own music on them and in this way created new genres. The films are light in tone. “Ethnomusicology is always so serious”, says exhibition maker Frans Fontaine. “We wanted to introduce playful elements, but the instrument remains the core.” Like in the film about the ukulele. Fontaine: “That instrument is usually dismissed as a toy. You start to think differently when you see how virtuoso Bob Brozman plays it”. 

“Music travels and changes,” he emphasizes. We want to show that.