Through my research as a performing guitarist, student and teacher, as well as from time spent with elderly South African guitar masters, I have realised that the uniquely South African style of playing guitar is fast disappearing. The masters are passing on very fast, most of the music schools are not teaching that style, and many young musicians have been swallowed up in the commercial effort to make quick money. Professional musicians, scholars and journalists who want to research South Africa’s musical innovations struggle to find the necessary information. There is a real possibility that important aspects of our heritage and musical legacy will die away”. – Billy Monama, 2021

SAMRO and the IAM Project recognise the need to document, preserve and promote the unique guitar music that has come out of Africa. In 2021 a partnership with guitarist and researcher, Billy Monama, the project agreed to support him in his way towards completing his book An Introduction to South African Guitar Styles Vol. 1

The book is an exploration of the history of the guitar in Black South African popular music over five decades and the most important styles to have evolved around it: marabi, maskanda, African jazz, kwela, mbaqanga and xiTsonga. It presents biographies and the historical background of each of the musical styles as well as stave notations of the most important, most frequently played tunes from old South African classics while celebrating past South African guitar players, sidemen and bandleaders.

To give you an understanding of the geography, culture and era from which each guitar style emerged and evolved, every effort has been made to locate the biographies and discographies and transcribe the work of ground-breaking guitarists and innovators in those genres.

An Introduction to South African Guitar Styles Vol. 1 is scheduled to be published in November 2021. To keep an eye out follow Billy on his website, twitter and facebook.

The following samples are available on this website for perusal and download: