Voices of the world

For those coming to Daoist ritual from a sinological background (as is likely)—and for those who recognize that if we are going to study ritual, that involves performance, which in turn involves sound—a quick crash course:

among all the ethnomusicological surveys of vocal music, the 3-CD set

  • Les voix du monde: une anthologie des expressions vocales
    (CNRS/Musée de l’Homme, 1996),

with its detailed booklet, makes a precious introduction. A wide range of styles of vocal production is covered here:

  • Techniques
    Calls, cries, and clamours
    Voice and breath
    Spoken, declaimed, sung
    Compass and register
    Colours and timbres
    Disguised voices
    Voices and musical instruments
    Employ [sic] of harmonics
  • Polyphonies
    Echoes and overlapping
    Drones and ostinato
    Parallel, oblique or contrary motion
    Counterpoint and combined techniques.

Apart from a veritable smorgasbord [sorry, been writing too many blurbs] of amazing audio tracks from all over the world, the booklet contains valuable notes, a glossary, and tables such as “Different forms of polyphony” in graphic form (p.105).

Then all we need is to digest

  • Bell Yung “The nature of Chinese ritual sound”, in Yung, Rawski and Watson eds., Harmony and counterpoint: ritual music in Chinese context, pp.13–31

and we’re all set to enter the fray…

6 thoughts on “Voices of the world

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