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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dr. Victor Grauer's Sounding The Depths... a musical journey...

“Sounding the Depths” is an innovative inquiry into the origins and deep history of some of humankind's most venerable and highly valued traditions, suggesting “solutions to mysteries that, until recently, were thought to be completely beyond the reach of systematic investigation.” Building on his many years of research on world music, the author draws on a wide range of anthropological, archaeological and biological evidence, with special emphasis on the revolutionary genetic research behind the widely discussed “Out of Africa” model of early human history. A major objective is to demonstrate that evidence distilled from the music of contemporary indigenous peoples can function as a kind of cultural “genome,” roughly analogous to the biological genome currently being explored by geneticists. Indeed, it is the author’s hope that his research may some day do for cultural history what population genetics is currently doing for our biological history; going, in both cases, all the way back to our beginnings in Africa. Written in a straightforward, non-academic style, this book should appeal to a wide range of readers, from anyone with an interest in world music, cultural evolution or early human history, to students and professionals in fields such as anthropology, archaeology, population genetics, ethnomusicology and pre-history. 

This book triggered a response in me much like the first time I glimpsed the iconic “Blue Marble” photo of the whole earth, shot from space in 1972. Victor Grauer’s big picture is of our historical world; the twin engines of the craft that took him far enough to fit it to that global frame are ethnomusicological and population genetics research, fueled by rich shots of cultural studies and linguistics. The psychological impact of his results is both as deeply familiar and as wildly novel as that of the Blue Marble, and may well loom and seep into our collective psyche like the same kind of gravity-well for human identity that it is. . . 

Mike Heffley, in the Journal of Folklore Research, Jan. 2012. 

Grauer . . . speaks definitively on how, where, why and when the musical style of our ancestors has spread around the world, and how and why it has survived today in specific places and situations. Musicology, heretofore in decline, finally seizes the fruit of a universal aspiration: only by studying the historical evolution of music can we understand the deep universal interconnections among human cultures. . . 
Freely translated from Stefano Zenni’s preface to the Italian translation (published as Musica dal profondo. Viaggio all'origine della storia e della cultura, by Codice Edizione). 

A truly enriching and eyes-opening book.

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