Thursday, 25 December 2014

Music, more ancient than language (radical anthropology at the cock taven)

I went to a truly eye opening talk a couple of weeks ago above The Cock Tavern pub near Kings Cross station. It was hosted by the 'radical anthropology group' and the talker was Jerome Lewis from UCL. He started by discussing some of the different music from around the world. Every human culture makes music and this in-itself is a remarkable and perhaps revealing thing. It is Mr Lewis' conjecture that Music and song may have preceded language in our evolutionary development. 
In his experiences living with the pygmy tribes of the Congo he saw that how they would often tell stories by mimicking jungle sounds and playing out the actions using song and dance to tell the narrative. He noted that song and in particular polyphonic song was a method by which multiple people can communicate to one another simultaneously.
Their music also communicates the ethos of the tribe. In a polyphonic song every member of the chorus sings a different melody. All these different melodies come together to form one coherent piece of music. Contributing in an individually unique yet complimentary way is exactly how individuals are expected to act in their daily lives within the group.
(For future free talks at the cock taven)

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