Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id VAA26669 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Sun, 24 Feb 2002 21:53:31 GMT User-Agent: Microsoft-Outlook-Express-Macintosh-Edition/5.02.2022 Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 16:48:33 -0500 Subject: Re: Systematics and Memetics:Towards a Memetic Species From: William Benzon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: <email@example.com> Message-ID: <B89EB2E7.F8A9firstname.lastname@example.org> In-Reply-To: <3C940979@iit1s21> Content-type: text/plain; charset="ISO-8859-1" Content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printable Sender: email@example.com Precedence: bulk Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
on 2/24/02 12:57 PM, rmey4892 at email@example.com wrote:
> Here I will now propose another such "subset" to the Evolutionary Species
> Concept: The Memetic Species.
I think one can easily think about musical styles as cultural species.
Thus, in Beethoven's Anvil (Basic books 2001) I say (pp. 226-227):
In his book, The Four Ages of Music, Walter Wiora looks at music as a
comparative anatomist looks at the fossil record. He is a comparative
anatomist of musical style. After a career¹s worth of study he has concluded
that, in the large, musical styles have emerged in four ages in which the
newly emerging styles have broadly similar characteristics. Older styles,
meanwhile, continue to be performed. The process is thus a cumulative one,
yielding newer kinds of music without completely eliminating the older.
It is easy enough for an anatomist of musical types to listen to live and
recorded performances of existing music‹that¹s how Lomax did his work‹but
only Western music has left fossils in the form of scores. We have some
ancient musical instruments, but the instruments cannot tell us how they
were played. We also have various written accounts of music performed in
ancient literate cultures. Those accounts can tell us about the occasions
for music, the number and kinds of instruments in an ensemble, the effect of
the music on listeners, the general esteem in which music and musicians were
held and they can give us general impressions of how it sounded; but those
accounts cannot give us the music itself. We have even less evidence about
the music of preliterate peoples living 5000 or more years ago.
And yet Wiora¹s first age is that of ³prehistoric and early times² in which
he includes ³survivals among primitive peoples and in the archaic folk music
of high cultures.² Similarly, his second age is that of ³the music of the
high cultures of Antiquity, from the Sumerian and Egyptian to the late
Roman, as well as its manifold continuations and further developments in the
high cultures of the Orient.² Wiora has no direct evidence of how those old
musics sound, but he is willing to assume that their general characteristics
are like those of musics existing among living peoples, as biologists are
willing to assume that the soft tissue parts of extinct species resemble
those of living species having similar bony parts. One may or may not be
willing to grant Wiora this assumption, but we must recognize that it is an
assumption‹one that is common among students of cultural history and
evolution. Given this assumption Wiora compares the musics of his first and
second ages with those of his third, the ³musical art of the West,² and his
fourth age, ³the technical and industrial Age, spanning all countries of the
world, uniting the heritage of all previous cultures in a kind of universal
museum and carrying on its international concert life.²
Just as a paleontologist can conduct her investigations without having to
think about the nature of the process which produced reptiles about 300
million years ago and mammals about 250 million years ago, so Wiora is not
concerned about the process that led from the earlier to the later types of
music. He simply wants to provide a proper description of the types.
My primary purpose in discussing Wiora is, then, is to present and
reinterpret his general account in this and the next section. Once I have
done that, however, I will go on to sketch an account of how the later types
evolved from the earlier. The validity of Wiora¹s work, of course, is
independent of my theory about the process through which music has evolved.
I can be wrong without my error propagating to Wiora¹s typology.
William L. Benzon 708 Jersey Avenue, Apt. 2A Jersey City, NJ 07302 201 217-1010
"you won't get a wild heroic ride to heaven on pretty little sounds"--george ives
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