the world of music

ISSN 0043-8774


wom 48, 2006-3

Echos of Our Forgotten Ancestors II

Editor: Max-Peter Baumann
Co-Editor: Jonathan P. J. Stock
Guest Editor: Victor A. Grauer

ISSN 0043-8774


Jonathan P. J. Stock

Victor A. Grauer:
Echoes of Our Forgotten Ancestors: Some Points of Clarification

Rachel Mundy:
Musical Evolution and the Making of Hierarchy

Matthew Rahaim:
What Else Do We Say When We Say “Music Evolves”?

Armand M. Leroi and Jonathan Swire:
The Recovery of the Past

Ian Cross:
Four Issues in the Study of Music in Evolution

Book Reviews (Helena Simonett, ed.)

Roger W. H. Savage:
Suzel Ana Reily, ed., The Musical Human: Rethinking John Blacking’s Ethnomusicology in the Twenty-First Century

R. Anderson Sutton:
David D. Harnish, Bridges to the Ancestors: Music, Myth, and Cultural Politics at an Indonesian Festival

Kaley Mason:
Laurent Aubert, Les Feux de la Déesse: Rituels villageois du Kerala (Inde du Sud)

Tony Langlois:
Jane E. Goodman, Berber Culture on the World Stage: From Village to Video

Melanie Lowe:
Sheila Whiteley, Too Much Too Young: Popular Music, Age and Gender

Karen Rochelle Liu:
Kwasi Ampene, Female Song Tradition and the Akan of Ghana: The Creative Process in Nnwonkorכ

Adriana Fernandes:
Larry Crook, Brazilian Music: Northeastern Traditions and the Heartbeat of a Modern Nation

Daniel S. Sotelino:
Tamara Elena Livingston-Isenhour and Thomas George Caracas Garcia, Choro: A Social History of a Brazilian Popular Music

Klaus-Peter Brenner:
Gerd Grupe, Die Kunst des Mbira-Spiels. The Art of Mbira Playing. Harmonische Struktur und Patternbildung in der Lamellophonmusik der Shona in Zimbabwe [Harmonic Structure and Patterning in the Lamellophone Music of the Shona in Zimbabwe]

Richard Jones:
Paul E. Bierley, The Incredible Band of John Philip Sousa

Recording Reviews (Kevin Dawe, ed.)

Kathleen J. Van Buren:
Éthiopie/Ethiopia: Les Chants de Bagana/Bagana Songs. Archives Internationales de Musique Populaire

Benjamin Lapidus:
Jíbaro Hasta el Hueso: Mountain Music of Puerto Rico. Performed by Ecos de Borinquen. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Donna A. Buchanan:
Bulgarie: Musique de tradition pastorale/Bulgaria: Music of the Shepherd’s Tradition. Recordings and notes by Marie-Barbara Le Gonidec, VDE


Jonathan P. J. Stock
As its title suggests, this issue appears as a follow-up to the preceding one, allowing further voices to be heard in an ongoing discussion of a multi-faceted, highly significant and essentially enormous field of music research. Collectively, the contributions make the point that the issues at stake are not new ones, concerning indeed such fundamental questions as what is music, whether it is actually possible to say that music evolves at all, how we might analyse and account for the global distribution of musical styles and style features, and to what political ends we put such analytical claims. New answers to these enduring questions are suggested, along with fresh ways of looking back at earlier answers, and Leroi and Swire make explicit an invitation which is implicit in the other articles too, namely that there is plenty of space for ethnomusicologists to join other researchers in pushing further at the boundaries of what we know about the emergence and long history of music worldwide. To do so, we will need to become more accustomed to thinking on the larger-scale but, in doing so, we can draw on the perspectives and techniques in a growing body of new research, much of it referenced in the articles below. Accustomed collaborators in fieldwork situations, ethnomusicologists may also find research in this field is a good place to engage in team-based study and analysis with input from more than one disciplinary perspective.
Subscribers will notice that this issue is somewhat shorter than usual, in part because response-type papers come in with less illustrative photographs, transcriptions or analyses than those opening up new subject materials. More than this, though, the world of music has had in recent years the practice of commissioning issues through guest editors who propose a topic and assemble a team of contributors who are experts in that subject area. This is a process that leads to a focused result, which might be seen as the journal’s particular strength as an outlet for research, but it necessarily takes time for issues to be planned, written, revised and produced. In this instance, journal editor Max Peter Baumann and I felt there was sufficient interest in the topic of music and evolution for us to follow the writings in the preceding issue directly with a further set of responses and developments. We issued a call for contributions, with very short deadlines for writing, review and production, all of which necessarily cut down on the number of articles that could be received, reviewed and accepted for inclusion in this issue. We had anticipated that there might be many, short reactions to the topic but finally received a smaller number of longer responses—it may be that ethnomusicologists are not yet used to call-and-response publications, although that does seem an attractive format for the debate of large-scale issues.

Echoes of Our Forgotten Ancestors: Some Points of Clarification
Victor Grauer
The author provides information on the emergence and the staffing of the Cantometrics project, and comments on the nature of scientific enquiry, proposing that criticisms of Cantometric coding and analysis miss the point that it is actually as scientific as it is possible to be in this field of study.

Musical Evolution and the Making of Hierarchy
Rachel Mundy

In the period between the two World Wars, evolutionism played a substantial role in a series of anti-Semitic trends that permeated the formation and reception of American modern music. The ordering principle of evolutionism, when applied to the association of racial difference with musical style, resulted in the creation of a social hierarchy of high and low art music that reinforced already extant racial hierarchies. Tracing the lineage of this tradition of musical evolutionism to the present day suggests the continued entanglement of music scholars, like myself, in evolutionary questions.

What Else Do We Say When We Say “Music Evolves?”
Matthew Rahaim
Whether speaking of musical “ancestors,” “development,” “adaptation,” or “survival,” music scholars implicitly draw connections between the change in biological and musical forms over time. These connections do not amount to rigorous applications of evolutionary theory. Instead, they function as metaphors used creatively to account for musical change. I see two broad systems of evolution metaphors, which I call “progressive” and “local” evolution. Progressive evolution (informed by metaphors of development and linear motion) sees musical forms gradually improving over time. Local evolution (informed by metaphors of fitting into place) sees musical forms adapting to dynamic local conditions. Each metaphorical system carries entailments about the future, value, and proper place of music. I argue that evolution metaphors, while sometimes useful, carry political implications that can easily be made explicit.

The Recovery of the Past
Armand M. Leroi and Jonathan Swire
Songs, like genes and languages, evolve. That means it should be possible to infer their history from their present geographical distributions. We outline one approach to doing so that we have developed based on the Cantometric song-style data collected by Alan Lomax between 1961 and 1994. We then discuss a recent claim that the migration of anatomically modern humans out of Africa c. 70,000 years ago has left traces in the global distribution of song-style, and argue that it is founded on a misapplication of phylogenetic theory and practise. Finally, we discuss the prospects for a new, evolutionary, science of song.

Four Issues in the Study of Music in Evolution
Ian Cross
This paper responds to articles published in the world of music 48, no. 2 (2006) on the topic of music’s emergence and spread around the world, addressing four issues raised there. First, the notion that musical style has the capacity to be conserved and transmitted over very long time-scales is assessed. It is suggested that there is a little direct support for this in the archaeological record, but only from a cultural environment quite distinct from that inhabited by the ancestors of today’s Pygmies and Bushmen. Second, attention is given to the extent to which theories concerning the details of cultural process can be securely tied to the detailed scientific literature on human evolution. This is a quickly changing field, both in terms of genetic testing techniques and in terms of scientific interpretations: it may be premature to propose detailed interpretations of something as complex as musical practices at this stage. The notion that stasis appears as a norm in cultural process is the third issue examined, in the light of emerging research on cultural modelling in relation to evolution, which suggests that stasis is by no means automatic or inevitable. Finally, the response proposes that we understand “music” as a means of managing social uncertainty. If so, then the recurrence of musical features from one society to another may not show historical linkage but rather the persistence, or the continual re-emergence, of particular patterns in social interaction.

Max Peter Baumann
last revisions: 9/07/2007
the world of music journal
University of Bamberg, Department of Ethnomusicology