The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #106314 Message #2199143
Posted By: GUEST
21-Nov-07 - 08:33 AM
Thread Name: Do you sing from Memory?
Subject: RE: Do you sing from Memory?
This may sound like pedantry, especially since we are a folk network rather than The British School At Athens, but I think there is a relevant point:
PoppaGator says that the enormously long Homeric epics were memorised. It is probable that this was true only in the last and most degenerate stage of their pre-written transmission. Until then it is likely that the process was as described by Milman Parry and others as still surviving in the Balkans well into the twentieth century, namely the epic bard memorized a number of 'set scenes' e.g. fights of different kinds and with different numbers of participants, and full lines, also a vast number and variety of part lines. The skill of the bard lay in improvising a story by e.g. starting with details of a character or an action, and then pulling out of memory an appropriate scene, line or end of line if at any point his ability to improvise in the correct metre started to run out. It is exactly this creative change in telling a story which I have argued in a previous contribution to this string is both the best feature of folk music and the one most completely destroyed by reading.