Where Does Music Come From?

Where Does Music Come From?
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Royal Anthropological Institute Annual Blacking Lecture

'Now much aware of my mortality I feel all the more the eternity of music.' - John Blacking shortly before his death in 1990.

Where indeed could music, that miracle activity, have come from? The lecture starts from the related question, long-debated and still highly controversial, of the origin of language: as heard speech, as seen writing, as multi-perceived body language? as essentially arising from ‘ha ha’ expression, ‘yo heave ho’ effort, the Tower of Babel? out of poetry (the basic?), inherent in our brains, the need for community, or from reductionist evolution as some modern theorists have it? The question of the origin of music has been less considered but in so far as it has happened it can be traced through much same pathways. But there is an additional factor: as just about all theorists – for once – agree, music came earlier than speech and is somehow more fundamental. We must, as John Blacking did, look deeper. 

Ruth Finnegan OBE is Emeritus Professor (Sociology), The Open University, Fellow of the British Academy, International Fellow of The American Folklore Society, and Honorary Fellow of Somerville College Oxford. She spent her childhood in Donegal and Derry, then first class honours in Classics and a doctorate in Anthropology at Oxford. This was followed by fieldwork and university teaching in Africa (principally Sierra Leone and Nigeria). She then joined the pioneering Open University as a founding member of the academic staff, where she spent the rest of her career apart from 3 years (and more fieldwork) at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. Besides running the small family-based Callender Press she is now a full time writer and researcher and has won many prizes for her fiction and nonfiction books. 

The lecture will be followed by refreshments. 

Speaker
Ruth Finnegan
Hosted by
Elphinstone Institute
Venue
The Sir Duncan Rice Library, Craig Suite (Floor 7)
Contact

Free Admission

The Elphinstone Institute
MacRobert Building
King's College, University of Aberdeen
Aberdeen, AB24 5UA

Tel: 01224 272996
E-mail: elphinstone@abdn.ac.uk

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