Date recorded: February 25, 1965
Culture: Italy, Southern
Physical form: Reel to Reel
Tape number: T1776
Track Number: 1
Archive ID: T1776
Note: Some remarks on fairytales as reflections of sexual and social relations. Arensberg: Europe is the only place where getting married is linked to adulthood. In India people get married at seven years old. In China man stayed suborbinate to father in father's house even after marriage. Lomax: Jack stories of Kentucky mountains. After conquers giant goes back to mother. Arensberg: According to Propp, Jack leaves home and defeats villain, obtains tools by obeying older person. Lomax: Difference between east and western Europe. Arensberg: In Russian Mir, fields distributed every year by elders. Fields go to households. Young people get field when marry. Village builds them a house. Groom may obtain bride by working for bride price (cf. Jacob working for Leah and Rachel). Upon marriage, groom becomes voting village elder. In western Europe, bride and groom run off. Eastern versus western Europe in Cantometrics. East has choral singing, polyphonically organized. Victor Grauer: There is ballad singing and epic songs with glottal shake in Eastern Europe also, mostly litany or through-composed. Western ballads more understated. Eastern Europe characterized by a delight in polyphony, they consciously play with the intervals. Seconds (dissonant to our ears) produce a rhythmic pattern called "beats," much appreciated. Alan Lomax: In Russian songs women take a big upward leap of an octave. Also on final note chorus divides into lower and upper half. Slavic women engage in social teasing, are very independent. Have fairly free choice of boyfriend. Arensberg: No need for suppression of affect. South Italy - Banfield's amoral familism where only consideration is welfare of immediate family. For Banfield, a New Englander, morality that ignores communal good is amoral - he berates South Italians for not having town meetings. In Italy the antagonists were witches. In fairy tales, the woman loses a man and gets him back. Arensberg: A man will stay with a woman only if she acts in a very respectable manner. If she is bad, you desert her for familial honor. Women must be watched by chaperones. Lomax: South Italy, Andalusia, Sicily, there are narrow (constricted) voices, slower tempos, greater embellishment. Less understated approach. No affect suppression, no impulse control, but very great attention to small details and graces of life. Intensive examination of all the steps. Arensberg: It is a courtly, bardic society. Reputation of women carefully controlled from outside. Two classes, the conspicuously great and the cafoni. To win over anyone you must "fare complimenti," - be flowery. Lomax: In northern ballads you get the girl away from someone. In Italy, man dressed as nun or friar seduces girl, in next stanza they are naming the baby. If girl turns you down you scream "dispetti" (songs of insult). A discussion of mouth music of Northern Europe and Celtic area. Breathless singing occurs from Lapps through Arctic Asia. Also tremendous amount of glottal sounds. Melodic phrases resemble Slavic, Baltic or Russian ballads, but with short phrases not articulated by breathing, rather gasps and gulps as singer runs out of breath. Alan Lomax recalls a linguist who asserted that the prevalence of back consonants is associated with primitive cultures. Front consonants and many vowels associated with cultural complexity and a need for fine distinctions. Norwegian madness (now called schizophrenia), from stress and solitary existence as farmers. Shaman is a person who has cracked but can control and deflect it. Breath holding as way of commanding attention or as an expression of anxiety. Need for continuous effort in extreme environments, arctic and Polynesian fishermen. Polynesians have very tiny motifs, whole song as a continuous motif. Arctic Asia has short phrases built up purely melodically on and on without breathing. Low percentage of text. Nonsense syllables for dancing. Ululation among Berber women. Their dancing. Tuareg women as a case of female initiative in music, they are famous as singing divas and fiddlers. Tuaregs are a slaveholding nobility who do not contribute to the economy. Use narrow musical intervals. Arensberg: In classical antiquity was called Lu-luation. Predates Islam in Mediterranean. Words "jubilation," "hallelujah" have same root. Exceptions to correlation of complementarity and polyphony. Alan expresses disappointment at failure to find a simple correlation between interval size and ecology, for example the prevalence of wide intervals among hunter gatherers. Some exceptions: the Australians, Patagonians, and Samang have narrow intervals, although they are hunter gatherers. Arensberg: Samang have a shaman-led ritual-type song. Australians aboriginals were formerly under strict control of elderly chief who monopolized all the women. Australian songs with narrow intervals are also long memorized ritual songs. Victor Grauer: Cantometric correlations still hold true for groups of several parameters: narrow intervals/wordiness/rubato/ and through-composed characterize bardic culture. Are narrow intervals expressions of bodily control? May send message that "I am not my own master". Narrow intervals indicate valorization of making fine distinctions and attention to detail. Asians look down on wide intervals of Europe as showing cultural coarseness of discrimination. (This discussion begins on tape 1775, currently undigitized at the Library of Congress.)
Belongs to: Arensberg/Lomax, 1963-1968
About the session: Conrad Arensberg and Alan Lomax discuss varied ethnomusicology and performance style and culture topics. Some conversations include Victor Grauer.
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