Nature and Folk Music

  December 30, 2020   Read time 1 min
Nature and Folk Music
Folk music is closely related with nature. This type of music is indeed rooted in nature and gives voice to the natural musical taste of the people. It is in fact the natural setting that determines the framework of the musical understanding of people in every land.

Sound waves and musicians’ minds are all part of nature. But the music-environment pairing goes much deeper. Basic studies of the 1980s and 1990s among small-scale societies in a number of regions have yielded fascinating insights into the ecology of music, from the Suyá in the Amazon (Anthony Seeger) to the Temiar in Malaysia (Marina Roseman), from the Kaluli on Papua New Guinea (Steven Feld) to Ted Levin’s Tuvan collaborators. In these scattered enclaves of populations, some numbering only in the hundreds, nature is not a neutral entity but an active agent in people’s lives, penetrating their dreams and drenching their imagination with the intense resonance of rain forest and mountain biospheres. For the Temiar, Roseman says that “all personhood, all entities—humans, other animals, plants, mountains, insects—embody bounded souls that can be liberated as unbound spirits. The world resonates with life, with potentially animated being.” The Tuvans sing with and about their rivers, mountains, and livestock in ways that push the envelope of what humans can do with their own resonant structures of chest and head cavities. The Kaluli construct songs that take singers and listeners on journeys through familiar local terrain and build them along the lines of the rushing and falling waters of their forests.