Robbie Campbell is a 4th year PhD student at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. His research explores the relationships between Chopi timbila xylophone music in Mozambique and dyslexia. Before returning to education as a mature student in 2010, Robbie worked for many years in the television industry as a location sound recordist. On receiving a late diagnosis of dyslexia aged 34, he decided to change career and follow his long-existing passion for music.
Largely self-taught, he played guitar in various bands as a teenager before moving onto other instruments such as bass, keyboards and percussion. For several years he was also involved with both music production and photography. Just prior to – and then throughout – his master’s studies (also at SOAS), Robbie became involved with West African, South African, Brazilian and Cuban music – a path that ultimately led him towards Chopi timbila music as a case study for neurodiverse learning.
The research itself attempts to draw parallels between, on the one hand, music-making as a form of knowledge production and system of cultural transmission, and on the other, dyslexia in all its myriad guises: as medical construct; social model; interactive experience with the world; and in response to contexts outside of literacy. Through experimental multimedia techniques and a nonlinear and interactive methodology, the research is itself ‘experienced’ through a website: a further case study on the creative possibilities of a ‘dyslexic’ cognitive process that repositions knowledge production at the centre.