Thursday, May 15, 2008

155. Droning on and on

Sorry to be away from the blog for so long. Please don't give up on me. I am presently struggling with a new paper with a deadline of mid-June, and it has not been easy going, so I've been forced to neglect the blog and will probably continue to be posting only sporadically. Meanwhile a very close friend died last week and the shock of his untimely death has made it difficult to concentrate. Paul Buriak was a student of mine many years ago, who became a good and very supportive friend, the sort of person who was constantly working to help friends and family in any number of ways. Paul was also a remarkable poet, but too shy and too unsure of himself to even attempt to get any of his work published. He will be greatly missed by his many friends and his family, who appreciated his many gifts, his penetrating intellect, his generous heart and his ability to bring people together and make things happen. I've been using him as a sounding board for my ideas for years and he's always had interesting, intelligent and helpful responses, as well as being consistently sympathetic and supportive. He was also an avid and enthusiastic reader of this blog, which I especially appreciated.
I've been droning on about this topic of drone, which is very interesting and important, but also a bit of a distraction from my principal theme, to which I hope to return soon, my pet "Great Tradition" idea, which hasn't quite played itself out yet. Before I leave the topic of drone, however, I need to say a bit more, because as is well known to students of Music History (with capital letters), drone was a very important aspect of Medieval Western polyphony. I've already had a lot to say regarding my conviction that elements of Pygmy/Bushmen style, notably hocket, stimmtauch and canon, almost certainly played a role in the development of the Western polyphonic tradition, making it a part of the "Great Tradition" for sure. (IMO)

Clearly the very important drone-based oral traditions of "Old Europe" also had an important role to play, which must be recognized, despite the fact that drone is NOT part of my "Great Tradition" theory. While I don't have time to get very deeply into that development, I do want to make the following point before I leave the topic of drone: there is in my mind very little question but that the so-called "art" music of the so-called "West" was not an autonomous development born of some sort of innate creativity that suddenly sprang up out of nowhere on the part of certain monks and priests of the Medieval Christian church. It was part and parcel of long-standing traditions that had been in play for a very long time, possibly tens of thousands of years. The early polyphony of the Medieval church is saturated with drone effects strikingly similar to what can be found in a great many of the Old European traditions pointed to by Jordania (and of course many others as well). This has been studied, of course, by some very capable people, but the full impact of their work has yet to be felt in the world of professional academic musical scholarship. The role of oral "folk" traditions of all sorts in the development of Western classical music at all stages of its history has consistently been either underplayed or ignored. Which means that the real history of "Western Music" has yet to be written.


N said...

It's been a while since I've read your blog, V. Today seemed like a good day to start again.

It was good to see this post about Paul. He is missed, very much.

I'm still reading, so keep writing.


Victor said...

Hi N! :-)

I'm really happy to learn that you've been reading here, that's great.

Yes, Paul is sorely missed. It's hard to believe what happened and really difficult to accept that he's really gone.

I haven't written much in this blog for a long time, partly because Paul's death threw me for a loop. But also because I've been distracted by other events in my life and I've been busy.

But lately I've been carrying on a really absorbing discussion with a Basque guy named "maju," who knows a lot about archaeology and "archaeogenetics" and has some interesting ideas and good criticisms that keep me on my toes. If you're curious you can check out our many comments to post no. 123.

Best wishes to you and yours. If you guys need anything or just want to talk, please get in touch.

N said...

Will do. Take care. I'm reading!