Sunday, March 10, 2019

--- Language for it's own sake ---

Humans are just about the noisiest animals on Earth. Noise is not a good survival technique and the only time wild animals are noisy is when they have no major predator (elephants are big enough that they can do pretty much whatever they want), when they are in a big group, or when they are looking for a mate. Evidently sex is important enough to risk their life for.

Coyotes can be noisy. They use it as a defense. Three coyotes can sound like twenty. There was a pack of coyotes near where the Boy Scouts camped in Dallas County, Alabama. I once asked another pack leader how many he thought were in the pack. His guess was way too large. The trick is to count the different voices. Canids do not harmonize. The howls are a form of communication and it's important that each member of the pack can be distinguished so they howl on discordant notes. If two wild canids blend, they will quickly change their tones to a discord.

Go to a park on a sunny warm weekend when children are playing there. Usually that noise is irritating to adults and they try to filter it out, but just sit and listen. Identify the different sounds and patterns. Much of what you hear will have nothing to do with speech and a lot of it will be really hard to even connect with any kind of communication.

Children play with their vocalizations. They experiment to see how many different sounds they can make and, when they find one they have never heard before they are delighted and make it ad nauseum.

Many nonverbal vocalizations are communications. A groan can communicate pain, a sigh, contentment or futility. But by adulthood, humans have begun avoiding nonverbal communications. For better or worse, there is a cultural distancing from "the animal".

There are several modern composers that have capitalized on the human voice as a musical instrument. If you're interested in this, check out the following pieces:

Luciano Berio - Sinfonia
Phillip Glass - Einstein on the Beach
Gyogy Ligeti - Atmospheres, Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Two Mixed Choirs, and Orchestra, and Lux Aeterna (all these are in the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack)

I was listening to Einstein on the Beach and a local TV personalities name popped out. The "lyrics" contained a television schedule.

You may not like this music - it's not everyone's cup of tea but at the very least, it's interesting.

No comments: