How Musical Is Man? (Jessie and John Danz Lectures)

How Musical Is Man? (Jessie and John Danz Lectures)

John Blacking

Language: English

Pages: 132

ISBN: 0295953381

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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.

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culture. W e d o not k n o w w h i c h o f HOW MUSICAL 26 these psychophysical capacities, IS MAN? apart from hearing, are essential for m u s i c m a k i n g , o r w h e t h e r a n y o f t h e m are specific to m u s i c . It seems t h a t m u s i c a l activities are associated with specific parts of t h e b r a i n , and that these are n o t the s a m e as the language centers. B u t we shall never k n o w w h a t to l o o k for until we study the creative processes t h a t are

that a n y creative effort is the s y n t h e s i s of an individual's r e s p o n s e s to all the g o o d things that o t h e r s h a v e given h i m ; and so these b r i e f a c k n o w l e d g m e n t s represent only a fraction of the gratitude I o w e to all t h o s e w h o h a v e helped me to appreciate and u n d e r s t a n d music. CONTENTS Humanly Organized Sound 3 Music in Society and Culture 32 Culture and Society in Music 54 Soundly Organized Humanity 89 H O W MUSICAL IS

beings and h u m a n e m o t i o n s " he " t r i e s to b r i n g into his art, using the language elements o f his t i m e , " says S i d n e y F i n k e l stein in Art and Society ([New York: International Pub- lishers, 1 9 4 7 ] , p . 2 9 ) . T h e influence o f popular culture i s strong i n the w o r k s o f m a n y great c o m p o s e r s , w h o h a v e striven to express t h e m s e l v e s , and h e n c e their society, in the broadest t e r m s . L u t h e r a n chorales were

c h o f orthodox m u s i c o l o g y concerned with " e x o t i c " o r " f o l k " m u s i c : i t could pioneer n e w w a y s o f analyzing music and music history. C u r r e n t l y recognized divisions between A r t M u s i c and Folk M u s i c are inadequate and misleading as conceptual tools. T h e y are neither meaningful n o r accurate as indices of musical differences; at best, they m e r e l y define the interests and activities of different social groups. T h e y express the s a m e

appointment as Government Adviser on Aborigines in M a l a y a lasted six d a y s , until he w a s dismissed after a disagreement with General Sir Gerald Templer in N o v e m b e r 1 9 5 3 . Thereafter, he did some anthropological research, taught at a secondary school in Singapore, broadcast on Radio M a laya, accompanied Maurice Clare on a concert tour, returned to Paris for piano lessons in June 1 9 5 4 , and went to South A f r i c a as musicologist of the International Library of A f r i

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