A Bee Song: New Single by Banco de Gaia and Future Pasts

Posted on May 16, 2024

Through the AHRC research project Future Pasts, Sian Sullivan (Professor of Environment and Culture) has collaborated with Somerset-based composer and recording artist Toby Marks / Banco de Gaia to release a single.

A Bee Song began as a commissioned experiment in recomposing archived sound recordings Sian was researching at Basler Afrika Bibliographien in Switzerland, originally through the AHRC project Disrupted Histories, Recovered Pasts.


The recomposition that became A Bee Song draws on a 1954 recording of an Indigenous Damara/ǂNūkhoe |gais or ‘praise song’ that praises bees.


Sung by a Viktoria ǁHoeses, the song reminded Sian and her Namibian research collaborator, Welhemina Suro Ganuses, of being taken honey harvesting by the late Nathan ǂÛina Taurob of Sesfontein, north-west Namibia. As he lit a fire to calm the bees, they began to hum loudly inside the mountain where his hive was located. We’ve tried to recreate this sound of the mountain humming with bees in A Bee Song which can be listened to here.


The archive research underlying A Bee Song is documented in a 2021 paper published in Oral History, see abstract here.

A Bee Song is available on the following platforms: SpotifyAppleAmazon, and on other platforms here. Proceeds from the song will go to support Nami-Daman heritage activities in north-west Namibia, via the Future Pasts Trust, formally registered in Namibia for this purpose. See the new Nami-Daman |Ûmi-oms / Heritage House website.


More information about A Bee Song is included in this blog article. A video will be coming soon.