The Sound of Heritage: The Music van de Caab centre at Solms-Delta

Friday, 7 November, 2014
Solms-Delta Wine Estate
You can never utterly destroy the hopes of people who can sing... Frieda Bokwe Matthews, daughter of celebrated Xhosa hymn writer John Knox Bokwe
The Music van de Caab centre recently opened at the Solms-Delta Wine Estate in Franschhoek, Cape Town and is an integral piece of the heritage pie that has characterised the 320 year-old estate since it came under the stewardship of Professor Mark Solms. It is the only museum in the world dedicated to Cape music.

It incorporates a dynamic and interactive touch screen exhibition of the multi-layered roots of Cape music and a hands-on indigenous instruments workshop.

Music is one of humanity's most primal means of communication, it crosses boundaries and has the power to heal and unite; a power which is terribly necessary in post-apartheid South Africa," says Solms. "Exploring the musical aspect of our heritage also celebrates the many influences that put their own stamp on what we now call Cape music. No single part is more important than the whole, and that's what we hope we've put into a lively, fun and educational package."

Compiling the research was like detective work for museum curator Tracey Randle, who calls the Music Centre "the most exciting thing I've ever worked on."

The need to create an interactive exhibition along with the challenge of having so much information to display in a small space led to the development of 10 glass panels with touch screens behind which information is layered. The panels give the visitor access to graphics, text, video and audio with the touch of a finger, allowing one to navigate according to their own interests.

"There should be a story for everyone who walks through the door. On every panel are exciting opportunities to learn and be immersed in music," says Randle. "For instance, tap on any country where slaves and colonists originated on our interactive world map, and you can read about their musical origins, listen to the music they created and have a total sensory experience of music from around the world. Or on another screen, tap on an icon of an indigenous instrument, and you can watch a video of it being played," she says.

The indigenous musical instruments on display in the Centre are replicas of musical instruments from the University of Cape Town's Kirby Collection. These instruments have been designed to be played, and they can be demonstrated by the Centre's guides, or played by visitors themselves.

Nature provides most of the materials from which these instruments are constructed, and the Music van de Caab collection ranges from ankle rattles made of springbok ears and moth cocoons; bull-roarers; stopped flutes made from animal horns; seaweed horns; reed flutes; musical bows, ramkies made from a calabash or tin can and even a blik guitar, to name just a few.

The centre joins the estate's other heritage projects: Museum van de Caab, a separate museum focussing on the social history of the Delta Farm; Fyndraai, a restaurant that celebrates the diverse heritage of Cape cuisine; a conference centre linked to it; and the Dik-Delta Culinary Garden, a two-hectare edible fynbos park.

The Music van de Caab centre is open seven days a week 9am to 5pm, closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Entry to browse through the museum is free. Pre-booked guided tours for R50.00 p/p on +27.218743937 Ext 134/135, For more details visit, follow on,, #solmsmusicmuseum.

The Music van de Caab centre at Solms-Delta
The Music van de Caab centre at Solms-Delta

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