Tuesday, July 10, 2007

57. Overview -- continued

7. What I've covered up to this point is IMO fairly solid. The evidence for the Pygmies and Bushmen sharing a common root, genetically and musically, is, to borrow Charlotte Frisbie's term, "overwhelming." The evidence for the survival of P/B style, as an "African signature," among certain indigenous groups along the "Out of Africa" route, is also strong -- more important, thanks to the new alliance among archaeologists, linguists and genetic anthropologists, it can be tested. With post 21, however, I turn my attention even farther backward to speculate regarding the origins, not of one particular style, but music itself. From this point on the evidence, though plentiful, is less easy to interpret -- and any interpretation far more difficult to test. We are clearly quite deep into the realm of speculation here. What's occupying my mind at this point is really more like a set of clues, or puzzle pieces, than anything else; the great question being: can these clues be pulled together in such a way as to provide a reasonably coherent circumstantial case?

8. The most intriguing clue is the similarity between a particular substyle of P/B, what I've called "Shouted Hocket," and the duetting and chorusing of certain primates. This leads to three basic questions: 1. can we indeed regard the various types of shouted hocket as a single style family? 2. if so, then what reasons do we have, aside from certain surface similarities, for considering that style family as a survival of primate vocalization? and 3. can this style be seen as prototypical for more complex forms of hocket/interlock -- in other words can it really function as a link between primate vocalizing and human music making?

9. The first question leads to a rather detailed examination, beginning with post 26, of a particularly interesting variant of shouted hocket, the so-called "throat-singing" of certain Siberian and Inuit groups, as studied by Jean-Jacques Nattiez, who demonstrates that both the Siberian and Inuit practices can be regarded as essentially the same, despite important differences in meaning and context. I then demonstrate, in posts 29-31, how the same type of logic can be more broadly applied to many other, closely related, types of shouted hocket in many other parts of the world, including Africa.

10. With respect to the second question, Nattiez' research provides us with another potentially important clue, as the "panting style" he found in throat-singing can readily be identified with similar practices, also found among circumpolar peoples, associated with both hyperventilation and shamanic trance. In posts 32-34 I discuss very similar types of "panted" vocalization found elsewhere, in, for example, the Ju'hoansi Tcoqma ritual, the chanting of Maasai warriors, and the Balinese Ketjak, where hyperventilation can lead to unconsciousness and trance. This type of shouted hocket, characterized by "panting style," is then compared with the "pant-hoot" type of vocalization commonly found among primates.

11. The third question is addressed beginning with post 35, leading to a consideration of the transition between "shouted" or "panted" vocalizing and what we would more usually consider as singing, i.e., music "proper," involving the use of discrete pitches. This reveals yet another potentially significant clue, involving a commonly found component of P/B style: yodel. Yodel is an especially interesting type of vocalizing as it can be produced so easily by accident, as a simple "break" in the voice. This is especially likely to happen when one is shouting, and, indeed, there are instances of shouted hocket that border on, or shade into, yodel.

12. It is possible, therefore, to posit a continuity from primate "barking" or "pant-hooting," in the context of duetting and/or chorusing; to a similarly structured type of vocal interplay ("shouted hocket") as performed by humans; to shouted hocket with intermittent breaking of the voice (as in the Bisorio and Bosavi examples); to "shouted" hocket with yodels mixed with shouts (as in the Dani and Huli examples); to more intricate types of yodeled vocalization, involving the interlocking of brief melodic fragments. Thus what we now understand, traditionally, as "music" could have been born in the transition from a shouted interplay to a yodeled interlocking of parts, the most significant difference being the introduction of discrete pitches via yodel.

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