The Big Music by Kirsty Gunn

Image

The origins of Coel Mor, classical bagpipe music, reach back into a largely unknown history throughout which the oral mnemonic teaching method of canntaireachd, the singing of the composition to commit it to memory, was considered a more accurate and enduring form of musical “notation” than a written score. This suggests that the laments, summonings, and salutes of this highly formalized musical tradition, in which the slightest variation or embellishment transports precise meaning, might have constituted its own language for recording history; might, like the poetry of the bards, have once been a vehicle for passing down tales of genealogy and clan lore. Indeed, writers, among them Proust, have frequently pondered the idea that music, somewhere in its ancient origins, could once have been a medium for a more direct form of communication among humans and for recording information in a manner that was somehow fundamentally truer than spoken or written language—in other words, that at some stage of our prehistory, the development of speech and the evolution of music were parallel endeavors with an open outcome.

Read the article in the spring issue of Quarterly Conversation:

http://quarterlyconversation.com/a-few-words-and-the-scrap-of-a-tune-on-kirsty-gunns-the-big-music

Also read Andrew Altschul on the posthumous publication of David Foster Wallace’s Both Flesh and Not:

http://quarterlyconversation.com/five-theories-as-to-why-little-brown-and-company-a-division-of-hachette-book-group-inc-decided-to-publish-both-flesh-and-not-a-collection-of-“essays”-by-the-late-david-foster-wal

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: