Song of Humanity

Wherever we are, we feel that we stand at the end of something and like to dream of the beginning. Here is one such a dream.

In prehistoric times, before people started living in tribes, they stayed in bands. While tribes were bound by kinship and territory, and thus relatively static, bands were in constant motion. One imagines hunters tracking their prey in stealth. However, silence runs against the grain of band culture. What held the members of bands together were sounds. They lived in a sound continuum, sonic spheres that travelled with them.

The members of bands maintained these sonic spheres by never ceasing to yell, shout, clap their hands, or beat the ground or trees with sticks or bones, thus creating a distinctively human soundscape ‒ to use the term of the Canadian composer and theorist R. Murray Schafer ‒ which defined and secured the band identity. Not being individualized yet, as long as the members of bands could hear the human sounds, they knew who they were. When the sounds of nature prevailed, the bonds with humanity got severed and the wilderness took over. The continuity of human sounds was crucial for survival ‒ maintaining it was probably as important as keeping fire.

Figuratively speaking, in the wild Paleolithic seas there floated a few fragile sound-bubbles of human consciousness. The humans were imitating natural sounds but they also added their own emotionally charged expressions so that the sonic spheres consisted of what can be considered proto-music and proto-words. As such, one can think of them as of primordial songs. The surprising connection between humanity and song runs much deeper than we usually think. We can even state that in the beginning, there was song.

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