Sunday, December 30, 2007

117. Concept, Style and Structure . . .

My music-theory oriented paper on Pygmy and Bushmen music (in response to Furniss and Olivier) is finally available. Here's how I just announced it on the Ethnomusicology mailing list:

A preprint of my recently completed essay, "Concept, Style and Structure in the Music of the African Pygmies and Bushmen: A Study in Cross-Cultural Analysis," is now available, in pdf format, via the Eunomios website: Here's the abstract:
The highly distinctive contrapuntal vocalizing of the so-called "Pygmies" and "Bushmen" of Africa has been a topic of considerable interest to musicologists for some time. In comparative studies, many striking stylistic and structural similarities among almost all such groups have been observed. Surprisingly, however, recent research by ethnomusicologists Susanne Furniss and Emmanuelle Olivier has led them to a very different interpretation: though the two traditions may be "acoustically" very close, they must be regarded as, nevertheless, "radically opposite" due to a fundamental difference in "conception." This unexpected and challenging conclusion, based on the distinction they draw between the stylistic features of a musical tradition and the conception underlying it, encouraged me to undertake a thorough re-examination -- part ethnomusicology, part music theory, part hermeneutics -- of the musical structures underlying both traditions and the manners in which such structures may be understood and interpreted. In this paper I draw upon insights into the nature of Pygmy and Bushmen music afforded by the research of Furniss and Olivier to argue against their interpretation of its meaning. In the process, I hope to demonstrate how extraordinarily close, conceptually and otherwise, the two traditions really are.

While the above might, on the surface, appear to represent a typical academic dispute, of interest to only a few specialists, I can assure you, this one is different. For one thing, my intention is not only to challenge my "opponents," but also to call attention to their extraordinarily valuable and important research, from which I have learned a great deal; with which I am, for the most part, in enthusiastic agreement. Indeed, Furniss's detailed and painstaking analysis of a single Aka "song," (included in Michael Tenzer's recent collection, *Analytical Studies in World Music*) has, in my opinion, and in spite of certain points open to question, taken our understanding of African Pygmy music to a whole new level.

For another thing, the old question regarding the relationship between the Pygmies and the Bushmen, their music and their history, remains of central importance, not only to ethnomusicologists, but archaeologists, ethnologists, population geneticists, linguists, historians, etc. If I am right, and the research of Furniss and Olivier (not to mention Kisliuk and England, on whose work I also draw rather heavily) demonstrates, on the basis of detailed musical analysis (and contrary to their own interpretation), how remarkably close the two traditions actually are, such a conclusion, coupled with equally compelling stylistic evidence gleaned (by Alan Lomax and myself) from Cantometrics, and fortified by all the remarkable new genetic research on human "deep history", would represent possibly the first solid evidence of (non-material) cultural survival dating all the way back to the Upper Paleolithic.

Finally, if I am right, a whole set of assumptions now held by the great majority of ethnomusicologists would be seriously called into question, most notably, 1. music can be understood only in its immediate social context; 2. it is inappropriate, improper, unscientific, etc., to extrapolate backward from the present to the distant past.

I would welcome any comments, suggestions, criticisms, etc., that anyone on this list might have with respect to any aspect of my paper, the work of Furniss and Olivier, or any of the issues raised above. The Eunomios Forum is accessible from their home page, at Responses can also be posted on this list, or to me personally.

Needless to say, I also welcome responses posted as comments to this blog. But read the thing first, OK? :-)

Friday, December 28, 2007

116. Music of the Great Tradition -- 17:Gamelan

As should be clear from posts 107 through 115, there are many correspondences, on many different levels, between Pygmy/Bushmen style and the structure of gamelan music. There are also significant differences: gamelans are primarily instrumental; they are stratified into hierarchically ordered layers, with each layer playing a rigidly defined role; while variation is possible, it is restricted to certain instruments only -- most simply repeat a melodic or percussive pattern; the basic, or "nuclear," theme is almost always directly stated, rarely implied; each piece is organized more or less as a fixed composition, with predetermined sections and a clear beginning and ending; tempo is flexible; etc. All of the above represent significant differences from P/B style, which is usually vocal (though sometimes performed on pipes and/or whistles); unstratified; non-hierarchical, with everyone present participating equally; with continual variation in all or most parts; with the controlling theme often implied rather than directly stated; loosely organized, with no clear beginning or ending; and performed, almost invariably, in a single, inflexible, tempo.

What are we to make of this array of similarities and differences? Is there some scientific method that would enable us to objectively test the claim I am making, that the gamelan can be regarded as part of a"Great Tradition" rooted in Africa, disseminated along with the "Out of Africa" migration? Unlike the simpler patterns I've been tracing in earlier posts, many of which can be tested, more or less scientifically, through a combination of cantometrics, ethnography, archaeology, linguistics, genetics, etc., the more complex and subtle relationships I'm discussing now probably cannot. There are simply too many variables to precisely manage, too many intangibles to objectively assess.

On this, more complex, more qualitative, level of comparative thinking, we are, willy nilly, forced to move from the objective realm of "scientific" testing, to the more problematic, but also, perhaps, deeper and more challenging, realm of interpretation -- or, if you prefer a more technical term: hermeneutics. It is on this level, the level of subjective, but also critical, interpretation -- of all sorts of evidence, from a variety of different realms, moving back and forth between the whole of history, both musical and social, as we now only dimly perceive it, and its various parts (the so-called hermeneutic circle) -- that we must proceed in our dauntless quest for traces of the "Great Tradition" that might still survive in the music of today.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

115. Music of the Great Tradition -- 16:Gamelan

Returning to Indonesia, let's listen to an example of some very interesting and unusual vocal hocket, from the island of Flores, near Bali, recorded by Phillip Yampolsky. Listen carefully, as the hocketed voices are somewhat covered by a higher pitched solo voice. This type of singing is organized in a manner quite similar to the hocketed gong ensembles found on the same island, where each person plays a different instrument (also recorded by Yampolsky). Compare with the Ouldeme pipers from the previous post -- or the Mbuti Pygmies for that matter. (Very similar types of pipe and panpipe hocket can be found in Southeast Asia and Melanesia as well -- see posts 41 et seq., below).

Simple gong ensembles, similar to the those of Flores, are quite common in Southeast Asia and Indonesia. Here's a nice video of dancing gongs, from the Igorot, of the Philippines, compliments of YouTube. The Kulintang ensemble, of the Philippine Magindinao people, is a kind of rudimentary gamelan. This YouTube video shows four men hocketing with gongs in a manner quite similar to that of the Flores and Igorot examples, as a man in the center plays the Kulintang proper, a tuned gong set very similar to what would be found in a Javanese or Balinese gamelan.

In this case, the gongs could be understood as a kind of speeded up colotomic layer, analogous to that of the Indonesian gamelan tradition. This video also contains a very interesting demonstration of how these gongs are used to communicate, a practice linking them with the very important slit drum traditions found throughout this region and Oceania generally -- and also, of course, Africa. This type of gong is probably descended from the slit drum. The last part of the video returns to the Kulintang ensemble, allowing us see in some detail how the various parts interlock.

What we see and hear above is especially meaningful, since it gives us a sense of how the colotomic layer of the gamelan may well have originated in this much more rapid type of hocketed gong interlock, which can, in turn be related to both African hocket and kotekan. And indeed there are examples of Indonesian gamelan playing where the colotomic gongs clearly hocket in a manner very similar to that of gong ensembles such as the Kulintang, as is evident in this YouTube clip, from a Balinese Barong ritual, where the colotomic instruments can be heard playing more rapidly than usual, in a manner recalling the ensembles presented above.

114. Music of the Great Tradition -- 15:Gamelan

As we have seen, the more elaborate gamelans are organized in terms of layers, in a manner roughly analogous to the stratigraphic layers so important to both geologists and archaeologists. Close to the "surface," we find the rebab, a bowed string instrument strongly associated with Muslim culture. Digging a bit deeper, we find drums, played in a style strongly resembling that of Indian classical music, based in Hindu traditions. Deeper still, perhaps, is the Gambang, a xylophone, suggesting African influence, most likely via some ancient slave trade between Africa and India. The presence of bronze instruments, of a type similar to those found in China and Southeast Asia, suggests the presence of a "Chinese" stratum, either direct or indirect.

Since we cannot, like geologists, examine these layers directly, our musical "stratigraphy" must necessarily proceed by inference, based on whatever documentation we have regarding the history and provenance of certain instruments and practices. Historical documentation fails us, however, when we try to account for the two most interesting and mysterious gamelan "strata," that of the so-called "elaborating" and "colotomic" instruments. In my view, certain aspects of both practices might well belong to the deepest and therefore oldest stratum, forging what is arguably the strongest and most convincing link of all between the Gamelan and the "Great Tradition."

Let's focus our attention first on an especially interesting feature of the elaborating layer: hocketed interlock, known in Bali as kotekan and in Java as imbalan. An excellent description of kotekan is provided in Michael Tenzer's essay, Theory and Analysis of Melody in Balinese Gamelan, published in the Internet journal, Music Theory Online. (See especially paragraphs 2.2, 3.8 through 3.10, and 4.6 through 4.12.) Tenzer's Example 2, below, provides us with an excellent picture of how one type of kotekan interlock works:

Both kotekan parts are in the topmost staff, one part represented with stems upward, the other with stems downward. The lower staff contains the "nuclear melody," or basic theme. In Tenzer's Sound File 2 we hear the entire melody played through first without the kotekan part, and then repeated, this time with it. As this moves quite rapidly, it might not be that easy to follow, but it's a good example of how kotekan sounds in context. Some other examples of Kotekan, taken out of context, can be found on this web page, along with easily heard MIDI-based audio clips.

For comparison, let's listen to an example of something that sounds quite similar, at least to me, as performed by a group of Ju'hoansi Bushmen, from the village of Dobe (from the CD, "Mongongo"). I've managed to produce a simplified, probably somewhat inaccurate, partial transcription, showing how two of the more prominent voices might be relating to one another, as they repeat the same pattern over and over again, with variations:
Since it's almost impossible to sort out all the details in this type of recording, my breakdown of the two parts might well be inaccurate, but it should give you an idea of how such parts can interlock with one another, to produce a hocketing effect quite similar to certain types of kotekan.

Here are two more audio clips from Africa exemplifying, for me at least, very similar types of hocketed interlock: Mbuti Pygmies, with "Luma" pipes and drums (from "On The Edge of the Ituri Forest," recorded by Hugh Tracey); an Ouldeme Pipe ensemble, from the Mandara Mountains of Cameroon. In both cases, each pipe plays only one note.

Friday, December 14, 2007

113. Intermezzo

I must interrupt my disquisition on the "Great Tradition" to update my loyal readers (you know who you are) with respect to some noteworthy events. First, an essay of mine, originating with some posts on this blog, has recently been published: "New Perspectives on the Kalahari Debate: A Tale of Two Genomes," in the online anthropological journal, Before Farming. Here's the abstract:
While the ‘Great Kalahari Debate’ hinged almost exclusively on the interpretation of sparse and confusing archaeological and historical data, abundant and convincing genetic evidence from the realm of biological anthropology has been largely ignored, while equally compelling cultural evidence drawn from the musical traditions of the populations in question has been overlooked entirely. In this paper, I attempt to demonstrate how genetic and musicological research can be combined to provide a compelling case for the ‘traditionalist’ position in this ongoing controversy. To this end, I draw upon an important but little known musical ‘genome’, the Cantometric database, compiled under the direction of the late Alan Lomax, at the Columbia University Bureau of Applied Social Research.

Unfortunately, you'll need a subscription to read the paper online. If you send a request via email, however, I'll be happy to respond with an attached offprint, in pdf format.

My second piece of news concerns a presentation given at the recent meetings of the American Anthropological Association, based on my collaboration with genetic anthropologists Drs. Sarah Tishkoff and Floyd Reed, of the University of Maryland, and Dr. Anna Lomax Wood, director of the Association for Cultural Equity (founded by her father, Alan Lomax), thanks to whom the Cantometric database has been updated and made available for current research. Floyd Reed put this together at the last minute, in the wake of many distractions, much travel, travail and illness, and after months of work back and forth between the two of us, trying to find the most effective ways of querying and interpreting the Cantometric data -- and comparing it with the extensive database of African DNA put together at the direction of his boss, Sarah Tishkoff, a major figure in anthropological genetics for some time (an important publication on African genetics and history, by the two of them, should be coming out soon). It was titled: "A Comparison of Genetic and Musical Affiliations in Subsaharan Africa." Here's the abstract:

Recent advances in anthropological genetics have prompted an interest in possible correlations between cultural and genetic inheritance. Thus far, however, research along such lines has typically been limited to the consideration of linguistic distances as a metric of cultural change. While linguists have, indeed, made great strides in categorizing the language families of the world and reconstructing their histories, another field, arguably of equal interest and importance, the comparative study of musical traditions, has received little if any attention from genetic anthropologists. We have consequently taken a novel approach, comparing two databases, one genetic and the other musical, in order to make inferences about African population history. The genetic database, compiled under the direction of Dr. Sarah Tishkoff, at the University of Maryland, represents 1,374 highly variable autosomal loci genotyped in a diverse world-wide sample of thousands of individuals, including 84 ethnolinguistic populations in Africa. The musical database, compiled under the direction of the late Alan Lomax, at the Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University, represents over 5,500 sung performances, drawn from 857 culture groups worldwide, including 181 from subsaharan Africa, encoded along a range of 37 parameters. Limiting ourselves at this point to Africa, south of the Sahara, we apply a variety of statistical and analytic techniques to both
databases, to investigate the degree to which the study of musical traditions might shed light on aspects of genetic-cultural co-evolution.

Though I wasn't present, I understand that Floyd's presentation generated considerable interest. Which brings me to my third piece of news, a report on the presentation, recently published in the journal Nature. Earlier today, I was able to access the article in full, but now I see that only the first paragraph is freely available -- to read the rest you'll have to send a payment or subscribe. What a shame, especially since I didn't think to copy it myself when I had the chance.

My fourth news item is the announcement of my recently completed essay in response to the views of Susanne Furniss and Emmanuelle Olivier regarding Pygmy and Bushmen music and whether or not the two traditions are, in their words "radically opposite." Needless to say, my views are radically opposed to theirs -- and for good reason. Here's the abstract:

The highly distinctive contrapuntal vocalizing of the so-called “Pygmies” and “Bushmen” of Africa has been a topic of considerable interest to musicologists for some time. In comparative studies, many striking stylistic and structural similarities among almost all such groups have been observed. Surprisingly, however, recent research by ethnomusicologists Susanne Fürniss and Emmanuelle Olivier has led them to a very different interpretation: though the two traditions may be “acoustically” very close, they must be regarded as,
nevertheless, “radically opposite” due to a fundamental difference in conception. This unexpected and challenging conclusion, based on the distinction they draw between the stylistic features of a musical tradition and the“ideas” underlying it, encouraged me to undertake a thorough re-examination -- part ethnomusicology, part music theory, part hermeneutics -- of the musical structures underlying both traditions and the manners in which such structures may be understood and interpreted. In this paper I draw upon insights into the nature of Pygmy and Bushmen music afforded by the research of Fürniss and Olivier to argue against their interpretation of its meaning. In the process, I hope to demonstrate how extraordinarily close, conceptually and otherwise, the two traditions really are.

I'll be making this paper freely available somewhere on the Internet soon, so stay tuned.

112. Music of the Great Tradition -- 14:Gamelan

Now that I've listed several points of similarity between the Pygmy/Bushmen and gamelan traditions, it's time to focus on one very important difference. The more elaborate gamelans, especially those associated historically with court traditions, are organized hierarchically, according to a principle often referred to as "layering," where each instrument has a strictly defined and delimited role, with varying degrees of importance (and skill) associated with each. This is radically different from the P/B tradition, where all parts are, in principle, equal, both in importance and function.

For clarification I'd like to draw on a very interesting and informative website, created by Yee-Seer See (with the advice of his teacher, Professor Han Kuo-Huang): Indonesian Gamelan. The page entitled Function of Instruments provides us with a clear picture of five basic layers of a typical Javanese gamelan, with links to descriptions of the instruments appropriate to each:

A. instruments that play the basic, or "nuclear" theme. (This is usually presented in longer note values, with little rhythmic differentiation); B. instruments that typically elaborate on the theme (using shorter note values); C. instruments (or voices), such as the rebab (bowed lute), suling (endblown flute) or voice(s), characterized as playing a "counter-melody." This term is a bit misleading, since, as can be seen from the transcription provided in earlier posts, these instruments also follow the nuclear theme heterophonically/ polyphonically, though with more freedom and flexibility than the others; D. instruments whose role is limited to "punctuation," i.e., the so-called "colotomic" layer (see under 17. in the previous post); E. "rhythm" instruments, in the form of three types of membranophone (drums with skin head(s)).

It's not difficult to see how certain layers, and instruments, could be associated with certain cultures that influenced Indonesia during different historical periods. For example, the rebab is strongly associated with Muslim culture, and could thus be a relatively recent introduction; the drums supplying the "rhythmic" layer look very much like -- and are played very much like -- Indian drums, suggesting that they could be associated with a somewhat older stratum dominated by Hindu culture; one of the elaborating instruments, the Gambang, is a xylophone, suggesting African influence, possibly via ancient slave trade, as has been suggested by Roger Blench (the noted ethnomusicologist A. M. Jones produced a fascinating comparative study of African and Indonesian xylophones in an attempt to demonstrate that they were of Indonesian origin, making their way to Africa via the Indonesian colonisation of Madagascar, an interesting theory that has not survived closer scrutiny).

Especially relevant, in the present context, are traces within this hierarchy that suggest the surival of a much older historical level, a level that can be associated with the "great tradition." To understand this connection we will need to look more closely at two specific layers: "elaboration" and "punctuation."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

111. Music of the Great Tradition -- 13:Gamelan

More list items:

16. Polyrhythm can be defined as the simultaneous presentation of two or more independent rhythms in such a way as to produce a sense of tension between them. For a detailed explanation, see the excellent Wikipedia article. While rhythmic clashes of this sort are most commonly found in west and central Africa, and are, of course, characteristic of P/B, they can also be found in gamelan music, most dramatically in the relatively new Kebyar style. Whether the rapid, dynamic polyrhythms of Kebyar are completely new, or derived from certain aspects of older Balinese traditions is a very interesting question that I'm not knowledgeable enough to get into at this time. Polyrhythm is present in the older styles as well, as evidenced in the Javanese example I've presented, particularly in the Bonang panerus part -- see, for example the groupings, in the second and third measures, of eighth notes into threes and then twos, as well as the quarter note triplets in measures 1, 4 and 6.

17. If you take another look at the Aka example (see post 108), you'll see four "percussion" parts at the top of the score, two clapping parts and two drum parts. If you take another look at the Javanese gamelan example (also in post 108), you'll see parts for four instruments at the botttom of the score, the Ketuk, Kenong, Kempul and Gong. These and some other instruments are sometimes referred to as the "colotomic," or "punctuating" instruments of the gamelan. Instead of playing melodic material, they play single notes that divide the basic rhythmic cycle into segments. While the percussion parts of a typical Pygmy or Bushmen song are much more dynamic than the colotomic parts of a typical gamelan, they have an essentially similar function, that of clearly segmenting the basic "time cycle" with percussive or monotonic sounds. Whether or not the colotomic layer of gamelan music can be regarded as derived from the percussion layer of P/B style would be a very difficult matter to consider, but it remains a very interesting possibility that cannot be dismissed. There are, additionally, certain features of the colotomic parts that suggest a derivation from certain hocketed gong and/or slit-drum ensembles found in Bali and other parts of Indonesia and Melanesia, which may, in turn, be derived from other aspects of P/B style, as discussed in my "Echoes" essay.

18. As I've already pointed out, the encoding of multipart performances in monophonic melodies is a highly distinctive and unusual aspect of both Pygmy and Bushmen musical traditions. Nicholas England was probably the first to describe the manner in which a Bushmen shaman will learn a healing song in a dream, which he will then teach to his wife in the form of a single melodic part repeated over and over again. The wife then passes this on to the other women, who use the melody as the basis for elaborately interwoven, polyphonic/ hetrophonic performances. Michelle Kisliuk has described Aka pygmy songs as similarly based on the polyphonic/ heterophonic elaboration of a single "theme." (Susanne Furniss has demonstrated how the Aka can, vice versa, also derive a single melody from a multiple set of "constituent" parts.)

As I understand it, something similar can be said of gamelan pieces, for which only the "nuclear theme" was traditionally passed down, in a simplified, letter notation. Most of what happens in the other parts could be inferred from the theme alone by musicians thoroughly trained in the tradition.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

110. Music of the Great Tradition -- 12: Gamelan

The list, continued:

9. Tonal displacement -- notes from the nuclear theme are routinely displaced at the octave in gamelan music, to accommodate the range of each instrument.

[10. Temporal displacement does not appear to be a significant feature of gamelan music.]

11. Repetition -- certain types of gamelan performance can be highly repetitious, especially when associated with ritual.

12. Variation in gamelan music tends to be more "vertical" than "horizontal" with variants of the nuclear theme appearing simultaneously with its presentation. Improvisation is strictly limited to only a few instruments.

13. Melodic disjunction is not unusual in gamelan music, though found probably less often than in P/B.

14. "Unification of musical space," through use of the same intervals both vertically and horizontally, is a distinctive aspect of both the P/B and gamelan traditions. The gender panerus and gambang kayu parts of the gamelan score I've presented are excellent examples of this. Note the harmonic clashes that arise from the interaction of these parts at several points, e.g., where the notes d and e flat are played simultaneously in the second measure, or e flat and f in the third. Several other clashes of this type can be found throughout the excerpt.

15. Continuous flow. Another very striking similarity between these two traditions is their strong tendency to "fill in the spaces" with continually interlocking parts. The only difference in this respect is that the end of a gamelan cycle is usually marked with a stroke of the largest gong, while P/B cycles remain unarticulated throughout.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

109. Music of the Great Tradition -- 11: Gamelan

Is the gamelan music of Java and Bali part of the "Great Tradition" I've identified, originating in musical practices ancestral to those of the pygmies and bushmen of today? Or are the similarities I've found simply a coincidence, due to independent invention? This is a huge question, too complex for me to fully tackle here. All I can say for now is that there are many striking points of similarity that are, for me at least, very interesting to contemplate. I'm hoping that sooner or later some of the real experts in gamelan music who might be browsing here (you know who you are!) might be willing to share their expertise by chiming in with comments, corrections, suggestions and criticisms.

I'll list some of the more striking points of similarity below, followed by some important differences that must also be considered. For convenience, I'll follow the order of my original listing when I compared Pygmy and Bushmen music, beginning with post 103.

In both P/B and gamelan music we find:

1. Interlocking parts, closely related to . . .

2. Hocket. "Imbal or imbalan is a technique used in Javanese gamelan. It refers to a rapid alternation of a melodic line between instruments, in a way similar to hocket in medieval music or kotekan in Balinese gamelan" (from Wikipedia: ). Imbal and kotekan are especially relevant features of gamelan music that I'll be discussing in more detail presently.

[3. Yodel is not a significant aspect of Indonesian music.]

4. Cyclic structure. In the Pygmy example presented in the previous posts, the beat is subdivided into three, giving a "measure" of four beats. In this case the complete cycle consists of 12 such beats, divided by Kisliuk into three "measures." More typically, the underlying theme of Pygmy songs (and in many cases Bushmen songs as well) often, though not always, consists of four "measures" of four beats each, giving a "cycle" of 16 beats altogether. This emphasis on the numbers four and sixteen, as the basis for the underlying musical cycle is very common in Africa generally. In the court traditions of Indonesia and other parts of Asia, such "foursquare" divisions of the basic musical cycle are practically the rule in almost every case.

5. Basic melody. As stressed in my previous post, both the Pygmy example and the gamelan piece are based on a recurring theme. Typically with Pygmy and Bushmen music, the length of the theme coincides with that of the basic cycle, but in gamelan music the theme can encompass several cycles.

6, 7 and 8. As illustrated in the previous post, polyphony and heterophony are conflated in both the P/B and Indonesian traditions.

That's all for now. I'll continue with this list in the next post.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

108. Music of the Great Tradition -- 10: Gamelan

Let's look more closely at the two examples from the previous post, beginning with the BaAka pygmy song, as outlined by Michelle Kisliuk:

As Kisliuk explains, the polyphonic songs of the Aka are cyclic, based on a recurring fundamental melody, or "theme," which may or may not be actually sung during any given cycle. In the above instance, the theme is presented on the uppermost five-line staff, just below the percussion parts. Voices A through D, just below, are labeled "Counter melodies," implying independent polyphonic parts, which they are. Except that they also are not. Because, as I've already argued (see post 102), polyphony and heterophony tend to be conflated in the musical practices of both the Pygmies and Bushmen. I've added vertical lines above all notes in voices A through C that are either in unison or octaves with the theme and, as seems evident from the many matches, all three can be regarded as both heterophonic variants of the theme and counterpoints against it. The only fully independent part is D. (With each repetition of the cycle the parts will be varied, so what we see here represents a typical instance, one of many possible combinations.)

We can now compare the Pygmy example to the Javanese Gamelan score (to which I've added some arrows, for reasons that will become clear momentarily):
Gamelan music is also cyclic, and also based on a recurring melody, usually referred to as the "nuclear theme," played by instruments called "sarons." In this case, the nuclear theme is presented in the Saron barung and Saron demung parts, five staves from the bottom, doubled by the Slentem part, just below. Gamelan music has often been described as essentially heterophonic, as should be evident from the arrows I've placed above those notes either in unison or octaves with the nuclear theme. However, there are many instances of true polyphony as well, as should be clear from careful examination of the faster moving Gender, Gambang and Bonang parts. Clearly, we find a conflation of heterophony and polyphony in both examples.

There are certain other very interesting points of similarity between the African and Indonesian traditions -- and also some important differences. I'll have more to say on both in my next post.