September 1st, 2012

Dead Dog Cat

this week's music essay


Upon my initial viewing of the Kalahari Khoisan in the trance dance, I found myself intrigued and excited by the music, especially the women's part in the polyphony. I recognize that Western explorers viewed it as primitive and disdained the Khoisan's accomplishments, but I found myself similarly mezmorized by the ritual. My reaction is colored by experiences I've had with similar trance-like musics. Specifically, I've participated in drum circles on Venice Beach in Southern California, and found myself entranced by the various sounds of the many drummers using a variety of drums and found objects, and how it all began to blend and be shaped in my mind to put me in a reverie that I found spiritually soothing. When I watched the Khoisan clip, I felt myself slipping into a similar mental state, and this continued in repeated viewings.

Although I find Western classical music doesn't give me this sort of response, I do know that it does to many people, and I can see where European explorers in the Kalahari region might sneer at the Khoisan in comparison, say, to a symphony orchestra. However, using the limited items that were available to them, such as voice, bows, or simple rattles, the tribe is able to blend a great variety of sound into a piece of complexity. The addition of the dance may not show the same agility as would a ballet, but the winding amongst the members of the tribe helps bind them together, an important action when very limited resources tax them, and require teamwork and hard effort to survive. Most Europeans who first encountered these tribal rites and who already viewed the Khoisan in a paternalistic way most likely could not accept such deceptively simple actions as deep and complex. I unrelated readings, I'm aware that some explorers were said to "go native", and any such here might have grasped the depth of the rite, but would not have been able to illuminate their peers.

In this particular case, I don't think that the trance dance would translate as well as pure music without the physical aspect being viewed as well. They are importantly intertwined. I don't get the same spiritual response listening to the music that I did with watching the proceedings while hearing the music. I think that being present at the rite would have given it a much more immersive experience.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Second day at ChiCon:

Got a quick bite to fuel me for the start of the day, and then wandered for a short time in the hucksters' room. I didn't make any purchases this time around. Then, I went to panels. First was 100 Aspects of a Pith Helmet, which was essentially about Steampunk, and the discussion sparked a story idea for me, which was cool. Next was a panel where they had four folks here, including Elizabeth Moon, and four folks from Dragoncon via Skype or something similar, and it was about Military SF - Reality Vs. Writing. Excellent panel. Next was Medicine and Science Fiction, and the panel included three doctors, a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and a woman who writes SF, but also publishes science articles including some on medical advances. Very good panel. Then, we packed a room for Firefly Ten Years Later; forestcats sat on my lap for much of it, because there weren't anywhere near enough seats. Very fun panel.

In the evening, we went to a Moebius Theater production of The Island of Dr. Moreau done radio play style, with a Foley team and music. Joe Adlesick played Moreau, and did it well. Following the show, Joe, Tom, the two of us, and mcmatz all went out for a late supper at Giordano's, a short walk from the hotel. The conversation was great, the food good. I had pepperoni, mushroom and onion stuffed pizza, and touched Heaven.

Back at the convention, we wandered a few of the parties, and were especially taken by the NADWCon party; in a back room, they were showing trailers and background filming of the Kickstarter project of Pratchett's short story The Troll Bridge. We'd kicked into that, so it was cool to see the bits in progress. It's expected release is in the early months of 2013. Wow...

I think I got to sleep at 0200 today; we were awoken by the maid pressing us to get the Hell out. And momentarily I'll be back in the thick of the convention.