Title of the Talk: Polyphony – Systematics and Ontogenesis
When: Monday, 26 February 2018
Where: The Barn at St John’s College (Kendrew Quad)
Speakers: Simha Arom and Robert Kaddouch
Abstract: To produce a melody is one thing; to couple it with a second one is yet another; but to create unity between several different parts at the same time is a major problem that has called for solutions in different historical epochs and in various cultural contexts. Polyphony – the simultaneous unfolding of several voices – is precisely the art of making different melodic sequences coexist as a whole, which transcends each one of them separately, while preserving its own individuality. It is fascinating to observe how, across places, eras and cultures, people have used similar polyphonic techniques. Through comparative listening, we will identify polyphonic processes common to different musical heritages, chosen independently of epochs and geographical areas. We will discover unsuspected kinships, particularly between the polyphonies of the Pygmies of Central Africa and those composed in Europe in the Middle Ages, as well as between the traditional polyphonies of Georgia and those of the early Renaissance.
After Simha Arom’s presentation involving comparative listening to various polyphonic processes common to different forms of musical heritage, chosen independently of the time periods, geographical areas and modes of transmission (written or oral), Robert Kaddouch will comment on videos of very young children (between eight months and six years old) in improvisation situations during which they spontaneously draw on some of these processes. The concept of conductibility will shed light on these manifestations.
Simha Arom: A French-Israeli ethnomusicologist who is recognized as a world expert on the music of central Africa, especially that of the Central African Republic. His books include African Polyphony and Polyrhythm: Musical Structure and Methodology (1991). In the 1960s, Simha Arom was sent by the Government of Israel to establish a brass band in the Central African Republic. He became fascinated by the traditional music of this country, especially the vocal polyphonies of the Aka Pygmies. He did field work every year from 1971 to 1991, accompanied by ethnolinguists and students, to record this music to study it and preserve it. Simha Arom was awarded a First Prize for French Horn at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique of Paris before becoming an ethnomusicologist. Further research interests: Ethnomusicological methodology, the liturgical music traditions of Ethiopian Jews and the musical heritage of the Jews of Djerba. Arom has been a Visiting Professor at many universities around the world. He is also a member of the Société française de musicologie and the Board of directors of The Universe of Music project (UNESCO). His sound archives were deposited in 2011 at the sound library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Robert Kaddouch is a pianist and a pedagogue. He is the creator of the “Kaddouch Pedagogy” based on the concept of “Conductivity” (The Pedagogue and the Philosopher, Robert Kaddouch and Conductibility, Paris: Harmattan.) He was a student of Pierre Sancan and Bruno Rigutto for the piano, of Iannis Xenakis for composition and of Martial Solal for improvisation; as a pianist he played and recorded with Martial Solal ,Chuck Israels, Gary Peacock , Eddie Gomez …He has been giving courses to teachers and instructors in different disciplines at multiple schools in different countries, and he has collaborated with various research teams (Paris Descartes, Sorbonne, Neurospin, ENS Nicot Institute). He has published several practical and theoretical works, including: Kaddouch, R. & Noulhiane, M., The Child, Music and Memory, De Boeck, 2013; Des Mimes et des Murs, Gruppen, 2012.
Convenor: Jason Stanyek (Associate Professor; Fellow and Tutor, St. John’s College)
Free admission – Open to the public. A drinks reception will follow the talk.
Event hosted as part of the Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies Series, based at St John’s College, University of Oxford.