Well, the simple reason is that
I’ve often thought of taking a course in ethnomusicology since I’ve always found it fascinating that some cultures have harmony singing traditions whereas others don’t. I was once told by an ethnomusicologist that there is a country in
I was told that if the story in a song is important (i.e. the lyrics are the most important part of the music), then the melody tends to be quite simple with no embellishments and no harmonies which might get in the way of the telling of the story. This is evident in, for example, the English ballad tradition. Conversely, those songs which have complex tunes, rich harmonies and many ornamentations tend to have very, very simple lyrics. It is the sound of the words that is important in these cases, not the meaning. For example, the many versions of Mravalžamier from
Apparently there was a strong harmony singing tradition in
I’m currently trying to source some interesting material for my new voice-theatre project. I would like to have as wide a spread of musical genres as possible, but always tend towards the traditional. So I’m really struggling at the moment whether to go with a harmonised Tamil song and an arrangement of a Sephardic songs, neither of which were originally sung in harmony. Maybe I should let go of my insistence on tradition. Or should I? By doing modern harmonised versions of songs from traditions where there is no history of harmony, am I honouring those traditions? Or am I doing them a favour by polishing up old songs and giving them new life in the 21st century? And where do I draw the line?