Thoughts Towards An Ecology of Music

I remember reading that a natural ecosystem that had taken thousands of years to develop can be destroyed in ten minutes by a guy driving a bulldozer. That seems true enough; horrifying and depressing, but true. All evolution’s gradual work, building a wonderfully complex interdependent structure — turned into undifferentiated rubble in less time than it takes to read a blog post.

Think about ecosystems as analogies for the ways human beings relate to one another. Traditional societies are rich in ritual frameworks, cross-generational relationships, nuanced interactions with the natural world and shared cultural narratives — another “wonderfully complex interdependent structure” that can be trashed appallingly quickly by the bulldozer of Western consumer culture.

Singing enabled individuals to create and express certain aspects of self, it established and sustained a feeling of euphoria characteristic of ceremonies, and it related the present to the powerful and transformative past. The Suya would sing because through song they could both re-establish the good and beautiful in the world and also relate themselves to it.

Anthony Seeger — “Why Suya Sing,” p. 128

If we are to reclaim our humanity, we’ll need to sing. We’ll need to make music ourselves rather than buying it from someone else.


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