Friday, May 25, 2007

14. More on the Tree

If we concentrate only on what could be called "superhaplogroup A," i.e., all the categories labeled A1 through A6, on the left side of the display, we see a clear continuity from one branch to the other on the phylogenetic tree. In most cases each branch differs from the one immediatly adjoining it by only one or two traits. Note that, as far as Africa is concerned, both A1 and A2 are found only among Pygmy and Bushmen groups. It's only when we reach A3 that we see some Bantu (i.e., non-hunter) groups included. Note also that the symbol Y, for yodel, is in parenthesis for this category, meaning that the trait is not always found there. This reflects the fact the yodeling can be commonly found among almost all Pygmy groups as well as many (though not all) Bushmen groups, but is only rarely associated with P/B style among other African groups, even among those peoples whose vocalizing is interlocked in a manner strikingly similar to the P/B groups. (By the way, it's important to understand that there will always be exceptions to any generalization I make on this blog. I'm presenting a very broad and also provisional overview that may well be revised in future.)

Note also that A5, Call and Response, associated with the Bantu "mainstream," is located relatively high on the tree, reflecting estimates that the so-called Bantu groups genetically diverged from their P/B ancestors at some point roughly around 18000 years ago (see post 11. "Standard Candles," for details). Another very important feature of the Bantu "mainstream" is the extraordinary development of instrumental music, but as the tree is limited to vocal styles, that isn't shown. What's implied by the tree is that P/B style can be regarded as prototypical for Bantu mainstream style, with polyphonic call and response seen as an outgrowth from hocketed interlock.

Looking now to the far left column of the diagram, we see the phrase "Out of Africa," with a horizontal line marking, very crudely, the point in history where, hypothetically, the first band of "modern" humans left Africa for Asia. Everything below this point can be understood as representing the state of music in Africa prior to that event. It should also be noted that style families A1 through A4 were apparently spread to other parts of the world as a direct, and early, result of the "Out of Africa" migration. (See the listings above the tree for references to populations still vocalizing in P/B style.) Again, instruments are not represented here, so it's important to mention that, in all likelihood, the first "Out of Africa" migrants were probably carrying: sets of endblown pipes (unbound, but also possibly bound into panpipes), whistles, and sets of horns and trumpets, slit drums, stamping tubes, all performed in "P/B style," i.e. with interlocked hocket; endblown flutes, musical bows, jews harps and, probably, simple membranophones (skin drums). How do I know all this? From paying attention to the distribution of all these instruments among certain indigenous peoples today. (See my essay for details.)

Just above "Out of Africa," on the leftmost column, we see the word "Bottleneck." This may be at once both the most controversial and most interesting aspect of the tree. In order to understand what's at stake we'll need to delve more deeply into certain very basic issues faced by both the comparative musicologists of "olden times," and the hip, young genetic anthropologists of today.

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