Stories of the World: Victor Gama lends a hand

Victor Gama is a Portuguese-Angolan musician and composer. His compositions are created using a method he terms the Golian Modes. This method involves the construction of the instrument becoming part of the process of composition. Gama draws on knowledge of traditional instruments and societies and combines this with new technologies to create his unique instruments. His instruments are developed for and alongside a specific composition or type of music to become the three-dimensional component of his compositions. You can find out more about Victor Gama at

Victor Gama demonstrates one of his instruments at the opening of the National Museum of Scotland
Victor Gama demonstrates one of his instruments, Tonal Matrix, at the opening of the National Museum of Scotland.

Victor Gama has worked with the National Museum of Scotland on many occasions. He created the four brilliant original musical instruments on display in our Performance and Lives gallery. These instruments were created to be played by visitors in the museum and are specifically designed to sound more harmonious when played by several people at once.

As part of our Stories of the World project we arranged to meet with Victor to hear his opinions on our ideas so far and to ask him about his work. We thought this meeting would be helpful for us with our project because our theme is Sounds Global, looking at music from around the world – something that he knows a lot about! The discussion was very helpful to us in many ways: we thought a lot more about possible designs for the exhibition space, learnt of more relevant case studies to look into and came up with many ways of focusing in on our target audience of 16-25 year olds through new design, presentation and content ideas.

Victor Gama demonstrates one of his instruments, Tipaw, at the opening of the National Museum of Scotland
Victor Gama demonstrates one of his instruments, Tipaw, at the opening of the National Museum of Scotland.

Prior to our meeting with Victor we had fixed on the idea of ‘music and controversy’ as our theme for the exhibition and Victor came up with many potential case studies for us to look into, such as the life of Feka Kuti a Nigerian musician and Human Rights activist, music in Libya under Gaddafi and the music of the Orange protest March in Ireland. We then discussed potential design ideas for what is a challenging space to work in. This was very useful and we now feel that we have many potential original and creative ideas through which to make the most of the area and entice people into our exhibition space. Victor was able to help us with ideas on lighting, colour and creating the atmosphere we wanted for our exhibition.

Now our project is moving on to explore possible objects and case studies in more detail, in order to finalise the content of our exhibition. Four of us involved in the project went to a Stories of the World conference in Leeds two weeks ago which was brilliant, as it meant that we got to see what other people were doing for their projects, what stage they had got to and how they were going about the process. Hopefully the information and ideas we gained at the conference will enable us to make the most out of this opportunity to co-curate an exhibition with the National Museum of Scotland.

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