Monday, November 12, 2007

103. Music of the Great Tradition -- 5: The List

Last time I promised a list of certain points of similarity between the musical traditions of the African Pygmies and Bushmen that seemed particularly significant -- and could lay the groundwork for our exploration of the great tradition that, as I see it, developed from essentially the same type of practice, as observed by the common ancestors of both groups. Here it is:

1. Interlocking or interweaving parts, producing a "contrapuntal" effect.

2. Use of hocket (the interlocking of relatively short motives to produce a single line or texture, with or without a certain amount of overlap).

3. Yodel.

4. Cyclic structure -- most vocalizing in both traditions is based on an underlying, regularly repeating, rhythmic cycle of anywhere from 4 to 16 "beats."

5. Basic melody -- most songs are based on a repeated melody or phrase that serves as a mental referent, even when it isn't being sung.

6. Polyphony -- singing together in harmonically related parts.

7. Heterophony -- the elaboration of a single melody in different versions in two or more parts.

8. The conflation of polyphony and heterophony is an important and highly distinctive feature of both tradtions.

That's all I have time for now. I'll be adding to the list in my next post.

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