How Musical Is Man? (Jessie and John Danz Lectures)
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This important study in ethnomusicology is an attempt by the author -- a musician who has become a social anthropologist -- to compare his experiences of music-making in different cultures. He is here presenting new information resulting from his research into African music, especially among the Venda. Venda music, he discovered is in its way no less complex in structure than European music. Literacy and the invention of nation may generate extended musical structures, but they express differences of degree, and not the difference in kind that is implied by the distinction between ‘art’ and ‘folk’ music. Many, if not all, of music’s essential processes may be found in the constitution of the human body and in patterns of interaction of human bodies in society. Thus all music is structurally, as well as functionally, ‘folk’ music in the sense that music cannot be transmitted of have meaning without associations between people.
If John Blacking’s guess about the biological and social origins of music is correct, or even only partly correct, it would generate new ideas about the nature of musicality, the role of music in education and its general role in societies which (like the Venda in the context of their traditional economy) will have more leisure time as automation increases.
and also the g e n eral rule that each syllable of a word m a y be a c c o m p a n i e d by only o n e tone. If performers substitute for words various CULTURE AND SOCIETY IN MUSIC 71 c o m b i n a t i o n s of p h o n e m e s such as ee, ah.ee, huwelele wee, yowee, and so forth, they give t h e m s e l v e greater freedom of musical expression. T h i s is i m p o r t a n t , b e c a u s e it is the part of the shared experience o f m u s i c a l activity w h i c h m a y b e c o m e t r a
acoustical properties o f sound. I n V e n d a , the use o f p e n t a tonic, h e x a t o n i c , and heptatonic scales reflects a process of social c h a n g e , in which different groups, with different m u s i cal styles, h a v e b e c o m e incorporated into a larger s o c i e t y . It is strange that even a sociologist should ignore similar social processes in t h e development of t h e European tonal s y s t e m . In his study of The Rational and Social Foundations of Music (trans,
T h u s d"/g and e"la' are functionally " s t r o n g e r " chords than d"la' and e"lb' (see Figure 9 ) . Harmonic Progression 9. Diagram of the harmonic and tonal progressions of tshikona and khulo, showing how the power of phala (d") and thakhula (e") alters as they change their companion tones. The rectangles symbolize shifts of tonality, and the changing thickness of the "wedges" illustrates the decrease and increase of the tonal power of phala and thakhula. FIGURE 88 HOW MUSICAL IS
Tshikona s y m b o l i z e d the largest society k n o w n to the V e n d a in the p a s t ; and b e c a u s e the oppression of apartheid restricts t h e m in the larger society of w h i c h they are painfully a w a r e , this traditional society still r e m a i n s the largest in w h i c h they can m o v e a b o u t w i t h c o m p a r a t i v e freedom. Tshikona is universal b o t h in c o n t e n t and in f o r m : e v e r y o n e HOW MUSICAL IS MAN? 102 attends it; it epitomizes the
, and n o h o p e o f cross-cultural c o m m u n i c a tion. B u t if we consider our o w n experiences, we m u s t realize that this is n o t in fact so. M u s i c can transcend t i m e and culture. M u s i c that was e x c i t i n g to the c o n t e m p o r a r i e s of M o z a r t and B e e t h o v e n is still exciting, although we do not share their culture and society. T h e early B e a t l e s ' s o n g s are still exciting although the B e a t l e s h a v e u n f o r t u n a t e l y b r o