Traditional Hopi Songs - online book

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THE ROTE-SONG OF THE HOPI                          5
through which different compositions receive structural likeness, but does not destroy their identity. They become individual but may remain each a norm to itself. Their irregularity may have the precise outlines of arrested waves.
Pueblo songs produce this impression. What seems at first a lawless cacophony, at least in the phonograph, proves on further hearing to consist of phrases repeated with an exactness surprising to the European ear in view of their divergence from diatonic norms. The singer's musical consciousness seems restricted to a few intervals of simplest vibration ratio approxi­mately rendered, and to melodic sequences formed by their various analysis and synthesis and rendered with a certain loose fidelity. If a scale were in his mind, even dimly, it should make itself known both in a more uniform interval production and in a more impartial use of the tones continually at hand in the fancy. The hearer seems witness to a wholly strange method of musical thought and delivery. The total complex of tone, timbre, and articulation — doubtless at the time movements, and other noises also — moves on apparently without guidance by any vanguard of fancied tones at fixed intervals. Upon reflection the surprise occasioned by the security of its movement appears uncalled for. A good mimic reproduces by an act of unaided memory and with indistinguishable accuracy very delicate nuances in the long sequence of tone and noise constituting his model's delivery. Why may not this music be perpetuated as a vernacular is, by the imi­tation of specific examples and not the application of general stand­ards? It is true that such standards exist in the European music which these Pueblo tribes have for centuries had opportunities to hear. Yet the sacred rites of which much of this singing forms a part seem exempt from European influence: and their element of tone is pre­sumably no less aboriginal.
The real bar to the belief that Pueblo musicians know nothing of scale is the diatonic form of their music itself.
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