In class today, we listened to an excerpt of Zoboko by the Aka Pygmies, a ritual that is performed the evening before an important hunting expedition.
This listening exercise was done out-of-context, i.e., without knowledge or experience of the circumstances in which this music takes place. In fact, most experimental research isolate music from its context (one could venture to argue that this state of affairs is related to the ideology of “absolute music” which has exerted much influence on Western culture and thought). Although many interesting observations and questions can be generated this way, even more can be learned when the music is reconciled with its context. For much of history, music has been associated with other activities, such as rituals and dance, and the predominance of “passive” listening as musical behavior is also a rather recent development. This video will give you a glimpse of music production in the culture of the Aka Pygmies:
What, then, might be missing from a recording of pieces such as those in this video that is relevant to an investigation of rhythm? What research questions might be prompted by observing the music in its context?