Musical Memes History Series

The on-going series:

Part 1) The Human Imperative

Part 2) Understanding Sound 

Part 3) Organizing Sound

Part 4) Recording Sacred Sound 

Part 5) Interpreting Sound as Music

Part 6) Music Memes: Monophony and Polyphony

Part 7) Sacred Music Expanding

I’ll be the first to admit that trying to analyze the entire history of music through the lens of a one-off chapter in a seminal evolutionary biology tome is a pretentious endeavor. And never-mind my purported conclusion, that music is open source. A statement which I toss about with no context, evidence or justification, but I guess I’m asking you to hear me out.

As I carelessly jump through history, discussing various historical societies (mostly European), from early times to today, I attempt to illustrate that the sharing of songs and sounds is a human imperative. This argument is more historical than technological, and identifies several musical currents, themes, and yes musical memes from varying cultures, and tracks their progress, development, and conflicts.

Cultural progression, with all its permutations and combinations, alters music to become one thing or another, both, or none. In spite of evolution and revolution, technology and ideology, hierarchy and power, economics and justice the innate quality of music has remained. Doing innovative things in new ways, disrupting the established system, and being at the forefront of technological progress constitutes the musical imperative. Music demands innovation, it is fundamentally “Open Source” because music needs the community to imitate, iterate, contribute and improve.

polyphony