In the last post I discussed one of the great mysteries of comparative musicology, the uncanny resemblance between two Drone/Dissonance traditions located in two very different parts of the world -- the Balkans and Indonesia/Melanesia -- with nothing resembling either to be found anywhere in between. This is not quite the case, however, as Jordania has written of a very interesting D/D-based tradition still surviving in, of all places, Afghanistan, among the Kalash people, living in a remote, mountainous region overlapping the border with Pakistan, currently known as Nuristan. Here is an example of their very dissonant drone polyphony, as transcribed by Jordania (p. 153):
Here's another example, this time in the form of a dissonant round, quite close in structure and style to the Lithuanian Sutartines we examined in posts 128 and 136:
( The round structure becomes clear when you follow the part beginning on the fourth measure of the upper staff, with downward pointing stems, which is identical to the solo part at the beginning.) How remarkable to find such music smack in the middle of Central Asia, a zone where polyphonic vocalizing of any kind is all but unheard of. And how convenient it would be if this style could be posited as a sort of "missing link" between the Balkans and Indonesia.
The reality, however, may turn out to be even more remarkable. According to their legends, the Kalash are descended from Greek soldiers from the armies of Alexander the Great, who either deserted or were left behind in the wake of his military ventures into this region, ca. 326 BCE. While such claims are always regarded with great skepticism, according to a recent genetic study, "Investigation of the Greek ancestry of northern Pakistani ethnic groups using Y chromosomal DNA variation" (see http://hgm2002.hgu.mrc.ac.uk/Abstracts/Publish/WorkshopPosters/WorkshopPoster11/hgm0533.htm), they might very well be true: "Based upon haplogroup frequencies, 65-88% Greek admixture was estimated for the Kalash, consistent with a Greek origin for a significant proportion of Kalash Y chomosomes." This is exactly the sort of study I suggested could be carried out with respect to the D/D singers in the Balkans and Flores. And in this case it appears to have revealed a truly astonishing connection over a period of over 2,000 years! (Actually the results of the Pakistani study were mixed, with some evidence pointing to a Greek connection and other evidence not so clear. Thus the astonishing musical connection could well resolve the issue in favor of the Kalash claim.) If these results are verified, then this would be hard evidence for exactly the sort of musical survival Yampolsky declared to be "not plausible" ("in the absence of a method of notation or an elaborate pedagogical system . . . for transmitting the tradition, no music could stand still -- with no new ideas or gradual changes, no influences from outside -- for even a few centuries, let alone millennia"). On the other hand, we would still be left scratching our heads over the far more implausible connection between the Balkans and the island of Flores, as an ancient Greek connection dating from 326 BCE would be far too recent and too limited to account for Indonesia as well.
What's most important about this fascinating tale, both cautionary and inspiring, is the great potential of the musical evidence, combined with the genetic evidence, to make a difference in our understanding of some of the strangest mysteries of "deep history."