Not invented there
This piece was briefly mentioned on a PRX show about the history of sound. I had to give it a full listen..........
Gibbons is best known for unrelieved bleakness. You think Samuel Beckett and Arthur Miller are bleak? Ain't got nothing on Gibbons.
But in this one piece he picked up the joyful noise of London street vendors and wove it into a perfect harmonic fabric. The only bleakness is the pitiful whining of a fake beggar, and Gibbons makes it clear that she's a scammer.
Of course this leads me to a Grand Blueprint-ish thought.
It's blindingly obvious that music in the broadest sense is innate. We have special neural mechanisms for deciphering and remembering music, which are similar to mechanisms for speech but not the same pieces of brain tissue.
But how about formal music? Gibbons has taken a collection of informal semi-music and shifted it into full music, then shifted it yet again into formal music with a precise European structure.
The semi-music of street vendors sounds more or less the same in China and India and old London and even Spokane. Streetsong implements the same purposes as birdsong: Claiming and Offering. Streetsong and birdsong are similar in melody and rhythm. "Here I am! This is my corner! Want some of what I'm offering? Come and get it! Want a piece of me? Come and get it!"
But formal music, ultimately derived from similar semi-music, is utterly and totally unrelated in the three cultures. Europe's formal music was fairly new in Gibbons's time, and he helped to build it. China and India had developed their own formal structures much earlier, and all three are absolutely distinct.
In math and metalwork and military hardware and dozens of other areas, Europe picked up methods and styles from China or India, sometimes via Persia or Mesopotamia. In all those other areas you can identify the channels of influence.
Not music. There's no way the Chinese opera could have influenced Gibbons or Monteverdi. There's no way the Sanskrit raga could have reached Boyce or Hassler.
Conclusion: There must be a genetic need, an innate drive, to formalize music.
= = = = =
Later footnote ... 'London Cries' and its companion piece 'Country Cries' are sometimes attributed to Richard Deering or Dering, a contemporary of Gibbons. Apparently the provenance is dubious. Doesn't affect the main point I was trying to make.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.