Re: Mutant swarms and copying fidelity

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sat 07 May 2005 - 22:07:04 GMT

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    --- Kate Distin <> wrote:

    > Bill Spight wrote:
    > > Dear Kate,
    > >
    > >> Where I was going with my suggestion (which is
    > only
    > >> that - a thought I had while composing the
    > message) was that, while
    > >> the how-to knowledge is a transmissible bit of
    > information, the
    > >> physical ability is not transmissible.
    > >>
    > >
    > > We largely agree there, too. But the physical
    > ability is trainable and
    > > the training is social.
    > The training is social in so far as it involves
    > conversations and other
    > interactions with the trainer: that's the process by
    > which s/he conveys
    > the how-to knowledge. But in the end the physical
    > ability has to be
    > learned individually. I can remember starting my
    > young cousin off on
    > the violin: she's a very bright girl who had rarely
    > encountered any new
    > thing she couldn't master, and was reduced to sheer
    > frustration,
    > responding to advice with phrases like, "Yes, I
    > *know* what my fingers
    > should be doing. It's just that I can't make them
    > do it!"
    > >
    > >> I'm wondering whether, when we learn a complex
    > skill like
    > >> violin-playing or walling, there is both a social
    > and an individual
    > >> learning element to it. So there is information
    > that can be shared
    > >> about it (the how-to knowledge) and an ability
    > that can only develop
    > >> through individual practice. This is why, no
    > matter how many books
    > >> they may read, seminars they may attend or videos
    > they may watch,
    > >> some people will never be as skilled as others.
    > Their individual
    > >> learning potential (both innate ability and
    > tendency to stick at it)
    > >> is more limited so the results are less
    > impressive.
    > >>
    > >> So maybe there are phenomena that we think of as
    > being a part of
    > >> culture (like dancing and playing music), which
    > are actually not
    > >> memes but individual responses to memes.
    > >
    > >
    > > Is it either/or?
    > >
    > > Best,
    > >
    > > Bill
    > >
    > It is either/or in the sense that something either
    > is a meme or it is
    > not. But of course there is a memetic element to
    > dance, music and
    > comparable bits of culture. I'm just wondering
    > whether there's any
    > explanatory mileage in noticing that there is also a
    > non-memetic,
    > non-social element to them: an element that is due
    > to individual
    > learning and response.
    My friend who plays drums and has an awesome setup can read music well, but I can't. That's probably why I have an anti-sheet music bias :-) Anyway I've learned to play by ear and though I'm not all that good (Neil Peart and Bill Bruford have nothing to worry about from me anytime soon), I have picked up some basic stuff like double bass, flams, fill, double stroke hi-hat and some awkwardly contrived cross-sticking. With drumming there's some stuff that one could argue is replicated at least at the physical performance and auditory levels if the receiver is coordinated enough
    (sadly not in my case).

    I recently bought a DVD featuring Buddy Rich and watched it with my friend. Though one of those big band dinosaurs he was probably one of the greatest drummers ever. He did some cross-sticking stuff and there was a part my friend recognized that he thought Neil Peart had incorporated into one of his parts.

    There's an odd beat that goes with an tune called "The Drum Also Waltzes" that I think someone told me Max Roach was known for, but I have a CD that has Bill Bruford (of Yes and King Crimson fame) doing this song and I vaguely remember thinking some of an older version of Neil Peart's drum solo may have borrowed a bit from this beat.

    Neil Peart had travelled some of Africa on his bike a long time ago and IIRC he hooked up with some vllage tribal drummers. Anyway there's a part of his newer drum solo versions that have a distinct African rhythm, similar to something I recall from some of the old Chicago house music of the late 80's (Todd Terry Project or something like that).

    I'm not a kinesiologist or musicologist so I've got no idea about the actual reality of it all, but I'd imagine that individual talent and practice would facilitate or enable the aspiring drummer to pick up on standard techniques (snare rudiments, perididdles
    (sp.?), etc). Learning music theory and being able to read sheet music and know the different times and the changes in time couldn't hurt. It sure helps in my friend's case, but not mine :-(

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