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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Gibb Sahib The Oral Tradition (36) RE: The Oral Tradition 25 Oct 17

May I suggest you consider adopting, at least in the context of some discussion, a different word than "oral." Maybe, "unmediated"? and/or "without written aid"? (The latter is characteristic of the vast majority of music in the world. The former still characterizes much transmission, but hypothetically that percentage decreases with the proliferation of media.)

"Oral" is causing confusion. It suggests something has to come out of your mouth. What if something else is producing the sound? The common denominator is AURAL.

This "oral" concept -- perhaps borrowed from such dichotomy as "oral history" versus "recorded history" -- is very word-centered. Maybe not the best way to talk about music.

Moreover, one can transmit orally or receive aurally via a medium. If the presence of a medium is relevant to what you're trying to figure out, then you need to be more specific than just oral/aural tradition.

Practically all music transmission relies mostly on aural. A very few -- though indeed these have a powerful place in Western society despite this quirk -- attempt also to convey information in writing. However, the written notation is most often prescriptive and can only be realized using information gathered aurally.

Again, for me, it comes back to ditching such grand constructs as "[the] oral tradition" and "folk music,"** and instead just describing what is going on. Here's a thing. Here's what the thing's form is. Here's how the thing is typically learned/taught.

**footnote: Yes, yes yes: These labels are expedient and fair game when one is having a simple conversation between people who agree on their meaning. But we are not talking about casual conversation here, we are talking about precise ("scientific," if you like) language to describe ideas, upon which base a larger argument depends, accurately.

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