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Tangentially Speaking

337 – Steve Mullins (Ethnomusicologist / Flamenco Guitarist)

By August 27, 2018October 9th, 2019No Comments

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  • Christopher Ryan says:

    Test comment.

  • I’m really glad Steve mentioned the concept of "duende", which would appear to be unique to Flamenco music, although I suspect it has common roots with other musical traditions. The idea that the performer has a certain ineffable ‘spark’ that suggests he or she are being inspired, touched –or even temporarily possessed– by an external entity, seems to me very similar to what happens in African cultures. My friend and colleague David Metcalfe explained to a bunch of friends the other day how in Voodoo traditions the music performed at ceremonies is not just considered a method to honor the gods –Music IS the body of the gods at that moment, and the rhythm is a vehicle with which the gods are able to penetrate and ‘inhabit’ the bodies of those participating in the ceremony.

    It also reminds me of the book The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, written by Walter Evan-Wentz more than a century ago, He was an anthropologist who gathered all sorts of lore regarding the belief in fairy folk –commonly referred to as "the Good People" in order NOT to make them angry. I think my favorite stories in fey lore involved those individuals who visited Fairyland, and once they returned they became incredibly skilled musicians, attaining all sorts of fame and fortune. To me it not only reinforces the idea that we’ve always considered Music to be ‘not of this world’, but inspired by all sorts of entities –either angels in the case of Bach, the devil in the case of Blues musician Robert Johnson, or ‘morally neutral’ like Celtic fairies– but also brings to mind the ideas of Terence McKenna, that the ONLY things we can ever bring back from our escapades to the world inhabited by the DMT machine elves are ideas –and those ideas can be songs, too.

    So, in a way, great musicians can slowly turn this world into Fairyland, one tune at a time 🙂

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