C.M. Bowra’s book Primitive Song is an examination of songs from stone age cultures — cultures in the world today that remain very close to nature, very insulated within their traditional cultures.
In other words they offer a look at the deep roots of poetry and songwriting — these are not cultures that grew up influenced by the radio, or by so-called music television. They didn’t even experience the sheet music printing revolution, when suddenly you could make fistfuls of money by selling a popular song as sheet music for people to play at home on their upright pianos.
The passage I’m sharing today is paraphrased from Bowra’s Primitive Song, page 86. It’s about how poetry probably begins at the dawn of humanity with a simple repeated rhythm… and slowly grows into long, meaningful poems that tell the stories, myths, and teach the ways of a culture.
Be aware that I’ve translated Bowra’s writing from 1962 academia here and recounted his ideas in terms we can relate to as present-day songwriters.
Bowra believes poetry might have started with a rhythm, like walking, dancing, or some other activity. Then, with that rhythm in place, poetry emerges like this: [Read more…] about Podcast: Primitive Songwriting