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Music 345a: Somali Music and Dance

Museum Resources for Somali Studies

Online museum collections are a good way to see examples of musical instruments. These images are often (but not always) licensed for education use via Creative Commons licenses. Most museums will prominently display a link to their image-use policies; follow their instructions for how to use the image.

Here's a list of museums with east African collections, compiled by East African Archaeology Online.

Some useful museums include:

I personally always check the Internet Archive, which hosts a surprising array of podcasts, video footage, radio shows, and texts on a variety of topics.  Copyrighted materials are available via controlled digital lending -- just create a free account to access these materials.

Somali Radio Online

Online Video

You may have good luck looking for dance footage on YouTube and other video streaming platforms. However, YouTube films require more careful evaluation on your part to determine that they are reliable and appropriate to use for you project.

Make sure to look for clues in the video description that the video is posted ethically. Some questions to ask include:

  • Is it copyrighted footage posted with appropriate credits?
  • Did the people know they were being filmed?
  • What is the context for the filmed performance (is it a staged public performance or a private event, for example)?

The image below shows a public performance filmed and posted by the museum sponsoring the performers; it is likely reliable and ethical to use.

Screenshot of a YouTube video from the Somali Museum of Minnesota Dance Troupe.

This next video is trickier, because it doesn't have the same cues of reliability as the Museum video above. I had to do more Googling and translating to determine that Rage Abdi is a professional videographer working out of Nairobi, Abdifatah Jarmal is the lead musician in the video, and Badhaadhe is the region where this video was apparently filmed in 2015. Even with these details, though, I still do not know the context for the film or why it was made, and no details are provided for the supporting performers. So while this video is likely ethically posted, I would want to acknowledge these uncertainties when discussing it in an academic context. (Update in January 2023: since I first posted this example, it seems the video has been re-uploaded, with more information about the musicians and filmmakers added to the credits! Hooray!)

Screenshot of a YouTube video of dhaanto, performed by Abdifatah Jarmal and posted (and presumably filmed by) Rage Abdi.