Title: Alan Lomax and Conrad Arensberg give AAAS lecture on Cantometrics (part 1), with response by Margaret Mead
Date recorded: February 21, 1976
Date recorded: February 21, 1976
Setting: 1976 meeting of the AAAS, held at the Sheraton-Boston.
Physical form: Cassette Tape
Tape number: T3784A
Track Number: 1
Archive ID: T3784AR01
Belongs to: Arensberg/Lomax, 1976
Note: At a Boston meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Cantometrics makes it possible to react and think about man's music in a precise way and to get a feel for its structure and its relationship to other human structures. Variables and their social correlations, e.g.: glottal shake is associated with large game producers and herders| with a need for male dominance. Florid solo styles of Europe and Eurasia associated with class stratification, etc. Rhythm: regular rhythm correlated with low infant indulgence. Irregular rhythm with high infant indulgence. Phrase length can be same length, or one very long and one shorter (factors in rhythm). Orchestra factors: large complex orchestras associated with high productivity. Number of kinds of instruments is correlated with number of societal layers in class system and with specialization. There are strong correlations between orchestral organization with centralized state control. Counterpoint versus polyrhythm. Geographic diffusion of instruments: gongs, xylophones. Distribution of instruments on evolutionary scale. Clapping (hunter-gatherers). Sticks (Australian Aborigines). Drums (incipient agriculture - Oceania). Africans use multiple types of instruments. Middle level - flutes, zithers, mouth organs. Lutes (Old high culture). Chart displaying Cantometric distribution of types of orchestras: idiophones to the left| aerophones and drums in middle| stringed instruments to the right. Cantometrics analyzed 36,000 of 26 types of song and their geographic areas. Cantometric charts of tonal factors, blend, and rhythm give an evolutionary picture of musical regional types. Way vocal groups are organized gives picture of the cohesiveness factor of communities. Work organization: community solidarity associated with cohesiveness in singing. An interlocking style in which everyone is singing differently at the same time characterizes the dawn of human music. Next stage: independence for all parts but form more cohesive communities. In a gathering society everyone is equally important as everybody else. Yodeling vocalizations as gatherers call out across space. Siberian-style breathless singing (until singer runs out of breath), found from Lapps to Ainu. Circum-Pacific. Rhythmic unison was a main achievement of hunter societies with men at the center of organization. Much discipline required to produce unity. Animals don't do this. Beginnings of permanent settlements. Proto-Melanesians. Black Africa: division of labor, importance of women. Solo-chorus overlap. Java: solo, wordy instruments take place of chorus. Europe: strophes. Life in high latitudes and need for alternate little packages of strategies. Comments by Margaret Mead. Choreometrics - movement in space: Birdwhistell's kinesic school. Edward Hall. Discussion of dance styles and correlation with labor. Linear movement associated with simple productive systems. Spiral with complex. Use of torso and extremities. People north of 30 degrees latitude seldom articulate trunk. Climate and need to disperse or conserve body heat and its relation to movement. Small movements of extremities associated with social stratification. Hand movement.
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About the session: Alan Lomax and Conrad Arensberg give a lecture entitled "Cantometrics, The Coevolution of Expressive, Productive, and Cultural Systems: Vocal performance, cultural evolution, movement style, social structures, hierarchy, taxonomy of culture" at the 1976 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The theme that year was Science and Our Expectations: Bicentennial and Beyond.
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