Flower World - Mundo Florido, vol. 3

Music Archaeology of the Americas - Arqueomusicología de las Américas

Answering Herzog (1935): An Historical Model for North American Indian Music

Richard Keeling

George Herzog’s essay “Special Song Types in North American Indian Music” (1935a) posed a problem that classic comparative musicology never solved. In it, Herzog described several genres that blurred the boundaries between tribal and regional repertories, either because they had spread through historical interactions or because they were survivals of earlier practices that were once widespread but were later superseded by newer styles. Rather than being uniform, actual repertories were shown to include a multiplicity of styles or “strains” reflecting various historical phases or influences. Bruno Nettl (1953) addressed this problem in an historical study of Shawnee Indian music, but his analysis was limited by focusing mainly on musical style characteristics. In the present paper I propose an approach in which “music systems” are defined not only by musical style but also by “non-musical” elements such as function and symbolic content. The concept is borrowed from Alfred Kroeber (1948), who distinguished systemic patterns in culture from whole culture patterns like language. Studies based on this model could analyze the historical “layers” in a local repertory, trace the distribution of particular musical systems, or even consider the major divisions or watersheds in a general outline of Native American music history. This paper focuses on indigenous cultures north of the border with Mexico but has relevance for comparative and historical research in any area of world music.

En “Special Song Types in North American Indian Music” George Herzog (1935a) planteó un problema que la musicología comparativa clásica nunca resolvió. Herzog describe varios géneros que borran las divisiones entre repertorios tribales y regionales, sea porque se difundieron por medio de interacciones históricas, sea por ser vestigios de antiguas prácticas generalizadas pero suplantadas luego por estilos más recientes. Demuestra que los repertorios actuales, lejos de ser uniformes, suelen incluir una multitud de estilos o “cepas” que reflejan distintas fases o influencias históricas. Bruno Nettl (1953) se ocupó del problema en un estudio histórico sobre la música shawnee, pero se quedó corto por enfocar ante todo los rasgos estilísticos. En el artículo propongo abordar el tema por medio del concepto de “sistemas de música” definidos no solo por el estilo musical sino también por elementos “no musicales” como la función y el contenido simbólico. Adopto el concepto de Alfred Kroeber (1948) quien distinguió entre los distintos patrones sistémicos dentro de una cultura y los patrones que caracterizan una cultura entera, tal como el idioma. Estudios basados en dicho modelo podrán analizar la variedad de “estratos” históricos en un repertorio local, rastrear la distribución de sistemas musicales particulares y hasta trazar las líneas generales de la historia de la música indígena norteamericana. Aunque el artículo se limita a las culturas indígenas al norte de México, tiene relevancia para los estudios comparativos e históricos en cualquier área musical del mundo.

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