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Songs of Earth - Aesthetic and Social Codes in Music

Songs of Earth

Aesthetic and Social Codes in Music

By Anna L. Wood
Foreword by Robert Garfias
Introduction by Victor Grauer
Contributions by Stella Silbert
Paperback : 9781496840356, 480 pages, 47 b&w illustrations; 14 tables, November 2021
Hardcover : 9781496840646, 480 pages, 47 b&w illustrations; 14 tables, January 2022

An important update of Alan Lomax’s standard-setting Cantometrics system, the first to characterize and classify the mighty instrument of the human voice


Based upon Cantometrics: An Approach to the Anthropology of Music (1976), by Alan Lomax, Songs of Earth: Aesthetic and Social Codes in Music is a contemporary guide to understanding and exploring Cantometrics, the system developed by Lomax and Victor Grauer for analyzing the formal elements of music related to human geography and sociocultural patterning. This carefully constructed cross-cultural study of world music revealed deep-rooted performance patterns and aesthetic preferences and their links with environmental factors and ancient socioeconomic practices. This new and updated edition is for anyone wishing to understand and more deeply appreciate the forms and sociocultural contexts of the musics of the world’s peoples, and it is designed to be used by both scholars and laypeople.

Part One of the book consists of a practical guide to using the Cantometrics system, a course with musical examples to test one’s understanding of the material, a theoretical framework to put the methodology in context, and an illustration of the method used to explore the roots of popular music. Part Two includes guides to four other analytical systems that Lomax developed, which focus on orchestration, phrasing and breath management, vowel articulation, instrumentation, and American popular music. Part Three provides resources for educators who wish to use the Cantometrics system in their classrooms, a summary of the findings and hypotheses of Lomax’s original research, and a discussion of Cantometrics’ criticisms, applications, and new approaches, and it includes excerpts of Lomax’s original writings about world song style and cultural equity.


"What I prize in Cantometrics is the accent on vocally produced music, on song. While music education in schools encompasses bands, choirs, and orchestras, vocal music is ‘back-dropped’ and underestimated, even neglected by teachers working with instruments and instrumental ensembles. "

- Patricia Campbell, ethnomusicologist specializing in world music education at the University of Washington

"After languishing out of print for many years, this landmark work is finally available to the public again in a new and expanded form. Most importantly, the Cantometrics audio recordings and world music course are online and freely available. This will be of enormous value to all, whether their interests lie in being introduced to new musical styles or in performing state-of-the-art scientific research. I applaud Anna L. Wood and her team for pursuing Cantometrics as a means of promoting cultural equity for all the world's peoples and their musics. "

- Patrick Savage, professor of scientific musicology at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan

"Songs of Earth is a timely package for the 21st-century folk music academic."

- Edward Komara, ARSC Journal