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How Musical Is Man?
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How Musical Is Man?

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  113 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
This important study in ethnomusicology is an attempt by the author -- a musician who has become a social anthropologist -- to compare his experiences of music-making in different cultures. He is here presenting new information resulting from his research into African music, especially among the Venda. Venda music, he discovered is in its way no less complex in structure t ...more
Paperback, 132 pages
Published September 1st 1974 by University of Washington Press (first published January 1st 1973)
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Meika Boogert
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I was assigned to read it for a world music class and really enjoyed it. It was supposed to be an ethnography on the music of the Venda people of South Africa and although he spent some time talking about it, I was more interested (as I think he was) on his comments about music in general and how each society views and experiences it. I loved this quote, "The value of music is, I believe , to be found in the terms of the human experiences involved in its creation. There is a d ...more
May 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 40-books-in-2008
i've been meaning to finish this book since the start of this year. it is probably one of the great books on music you'll read (if you choose to read it!). john blacking studies the venda territory and people (South Africa) in this fascinating work that asks what does it mean to have musical talent? in this society, everyone contributes to musical performances, whereas in Western society, we have "experts" or "musicians" creating the music for the "listener."

I found this book to be very helpful
Farida El-gueretly
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with this book. It really left an impression on me. This book is the perfect introduction to the anthropology of music, or ethnomusicology since it doesn't delve into too much music theory while giving a substantial understanding of the intertwined relationship of music, culture and society. Although he doesn't really answer how musical is man, Blacking gives a great framework or way to approach the issues that involve music, society and culture. He relies heavily on ethnographic ...more
Tom Graves
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This slim volume is not only an insightful ethnography of Venda musical practices, but also thought provoking comment on why humans make music and, at the end, what European society can learn from the Venda. I was most excited by his assertion that the reason musics change over time and locality is because their purpose is to teach us how to be human in a way that is responsive to our individual and social experience.
Mar 03, 2013 added it
Ethnomusicology is gently put in its place before it gets the better of itself. An excellent work from a profound humanist, asking questions that open a new horizon for a universal consideration of music.
Jan 01, 2014 marked it as to-read
This book is referenced in so many other books, as well as journal articles and college courses, including "The Music Instinct: How Music Works and Why We Can't Do Without It" by Phillip Ball.
Feb 22, 2012 added it
Great examination of the music phenomenon and of Shona music.
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Far more impressive than I would've thought, definitely the progenitor of Turino's work and Small's.
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