The Wayfarer’s Song, Installment 2

November 4, 2014

An Experiment in point of view

Folklorists traditionally capture songs in regions of isolated poverty. Be not deceived, the wayfarer’s song is a phenomenon of cosmopolitanism conceived and incubated in the intense heat of cultural hearths, be they multicultural urban centers or densely packed boomtown camps. Men compelled to wander in search of purpose and utopia carry music from home and hearth. This music imbued with intangible nomadic qualities, hopes, and fears, morphs within shady alleyways and busy bars; it binds wayfarers together even as they compete for opportunity in boom times, but it also shares the sorrow, death, and bust times. Music aligns strangers into kin groups. The fortunes of Liberty get tested with each generation; we must not limit posterity to our limited understanding of freedom, for posterity is born of another time. The wayfarer quickly learns that what does not kill him, will make him stronger.

Anthropologists argue that we inherit music from our male primate ancestors who used it to attract mates. Epic songs, the Ancients believed, were derived from the Muses who ruled over all creative and intellectual endeavors. Evolutionists suggest that music is an action like art and language that changes with social dynamics and cross-cultural nuances through time. They also say that music is practical in ritualized mother-infant exchanges that are shaped by universal common understanding. Song, scientists today argue, is simply various courtship displays akin to those expressed by other complex, varied, and interesting animal sounds found in nature. Music, they agree, is not an object of physical sustenance – like food or water – it provides no protection against attackers. However, they discern, it serves a social function by fostering deeper relationships shaped by both biology and culture. Melodies take shape far from the busy highways, amid groves and thickets in the solitudes where the wayfarer spends his sunlit leisure.

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