Event Title

Music-Making at Prehistoric Sites Helping to Understand Present Intuition of Music

Start Date

1-6-2011 2:30 PM

End Date

1-6-2011 3:00 PM

Description

This paper examines the potential for music education and experimental archaeology that exists in musicking at sacred prehistoric sites. Recent research in music education has highlighted the importance of improvisation, being in the moment and being able to tap into one’s own innate musicality (Wright and Kanellopoulos 2010). Research into the origins of music has suggested that music was a means of communication that preceded speech and has meaning for all homo-sapiens (Frayer and Nicolay 2000, Kunej and Turk 2000, Mithen 2005). There is also much evidence to suggest that music was revered as a powerful force in more recent prehistoric societies (Merriam 1964, Blacking 1973, Lewis-Williams 2005, Aldhouse-Green 2005, Levitin 2006). The challenge of investigating music in prehistoric cultures can therefore resonate synchronistically with exploring meaningful approaches to music education. An understanding of how music was used in the prehistoric past may help us to understand how we as human beings intuitively engage with music. The distant past is often a place of silence. Our knowledge of the distant past rarely includes an understanding or awareness of its soundscape. Therefore creating music with sounds that might have been heard in prehistoric societies could help us to interpret the times of our ancestors in ways beyond the capabilities of the visual world. When examining sound in this way we arguably pay much more attention to its detail and qualities than we do normally. We also try to uncover the cultural prejudices that filter our listening experience and hear with open ears. In addition, because making these sounds does not usually require extensive musical training, all participants are able to experience the beneficial effects of making music. Contemporary evidence from the fields of neuroscience, psychology and education has highlighted the power of music on human development (Sloboda 2001, Peretz and Zatorre 2005, Gardner 2006, Green 2008). Evidence such as this has provoked changes to the National Curriculum in Wales so that experiential learning, emotional intelligence, multiple learning styles, thinking skills and outdoor learning have now come to the fore. Educational projects that involve music-making at prehistoric sites situate themselves at the nexus between current anthropological research in the field and current research in music education, and creative development with children. Elitism pervades western music and our attitudes to organised sound. This in turn has caused us to block out sounds and lose any sense of reverence towards sound unless it happens to exist inside the sphere of our preferred musical or cultural tastes. These divisions are to be found throughout the educational institutions of the western world. I propose that musiking at sacred sites helps learners and educators alike to transcend cultural boundaries while at the same time perhaps giving insight into ancient musical practices. Research suggests that music-making should not be an élitist activity, but is something that all human beings can engage in and benefit from (Csikszentmihalyi 2002, Green 2008). Could engaging with music at these sites allow for a more egalitarian approach to musicking? Could it also enable us to feel and better understand the power of sound?

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Jun 1st, 2:30 PM Jun 1st, 3:00 PM

Music-Making at Prehistoric Sites Helping to Understand Present Intuition of Music

This paper examines the potential for music education and experimental archaeology that exists in musicking at sacred prehistoric sites. Recent research in music education has highlighted the importance of improvisation, being in the moment and being able to tap into one’s own innate musicality (Wright and Kanellopoulos 2010). Research into the origins of music has suggested that music was a means of communication that preceded speech and has meaning for all homo-sapiens (Frayer and Nicolay 2000, Kunej and Turk 2000, Mithen 2005). There is also much evidence to suggest that music was revered as a powerful force in more recent prehistoric societies (Merriam 1964, Blacking 1973, Lewis-Williams 2005, Aldhouse-Green 2005, Levitin 2006). The challenge of investigating music in prehistoric cultures can therefore resonate synchronistically with exploring meaningful approaches to music education. An understanding of how music was used in the prehistoric past may help us to understand how we as human beings intuitively engage with music. The distant past is often a place of silence. Our knowledge of the distant past rarely includes an understanding or awareness of its soundscape. Therefore creating music with sounds that might have been heard in prehistoric societies could help us to interpret the times of our ancestors in ways beyond the capabilities of the visual world. When examining sound in this way we arguably pay much more attention to its detail and qualities than we do normally. We also try to uncover the cultural prejudices that filter our listening experience and hear with open ears. In addition, because making these sounds does not usually require extensive musical training, all participants are able to experience the beneficial effects of making music. Contemporary evidence from the fields of neuroscience, psychology and education has highlighted the power of music on human development (Sloboda 2001, Peretz and Zatorre 2005, Gardner 2006, Green 2008). Evidence such as this has provoked changes to the National Curriculum in Wales so that experiential learning, emotional intelligence, multiple learning styles, thinking skills and outdoor learning have now come to the fore. Educational projects that involve music-making at prehistoric sites situate themselves at the nexus between current anthropological research in the field and current research in music education, and creative development with children. Elitism pervades western music and our attitudes to organised sound. This in turn has caused us to block out sounds and lose any sense of reverence towards sound unless it happens to exist inside the sphere of our preferred musical or cultural tastes. These divisions are to be found throughout the educational institutions of the western world. I propose that musiking at sacred sites helps learners and educators alike to transcend cultural boundaries while at the same time perhaps giving insight into ancient musical practices. Research suggests that music-making should not be an élitist activity, but is something that all human beings can engage in and benefit from (Csikszentmihalyi 2002, Green 2008). Could engaging with music at these sites allow for a more egalitarian approach to musicking? Could it also enable us to feel and better understand the power of sound?