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Everybody bitches about cultural appropriation. But you know, bite me. Because what it really is is cultural cross-pollination and it's where everything important to art, architecture, music, science, and language comes from. Think of it as cultural endosymbiosis. Thanks for all you do Ted!

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Apr 28·edited Apr 28

I mean, "cultural appropriation," meant something when it was applied to colonial invaders looting foreign temples, or making racist stereotypes to dehumanize the conquered subjects of their tyranny. But then folks started applying it to things like dreadlocks and drawing anime. And now even right-wingers use it to complain about transfolk "appropriating" gender.

That's the trajectory of activism: you start with educated thought-leaders making a serious critique of obvious evils. Then the credulous masses debase those ideas with empty virtue signaling. Finally chauvinists from the dominant group originally critiqued distort it into a new rhetorical weapon to throw back at those they're persecuting.

It's the political aspect of the creativity marginal people have always needed to survive in any culture.

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Apr 28·edited Apr 28

I think you'll find that there are plenty of academics, who, devoid of thoughts as to where to take an idea next, double down and become more and more granular in their critiques. All of the current "gender wars" were fuelled by unhinged academics, same goes for cultural appropriation. And all of it is designed as a distraction from the horrendous social dysfunction and warmongering being propagated by our governments, who far from serving the people serve a very few very rich individuals.

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I would have to agree. I don't want to agree, but I really believe it's just as you say. I think, systematically, the publish or die system has more or less forced them into this pseudo-activist scholasticism. Universities and especially academic journals are a racket. They want to treat education like a kind of indenture. And the students absorb it like a boring church sermon - they don't understand, remember, or show any real enthusiasm, but they're pretty decided on where to put their faith even with no thoughts or knowledge behind it.

As a tranny myself, I'm sick to death of all this politically correct bullshit about pronouns, identity, and the social construction of gender - something being a social construct isn't the same as getting to make-believe whatever you want according to your own rules. Weekdays are social constructs but you can't just "identify" your own new, private day of the week. If these scholars took themselves at all seriously, they'd grapple with the larger issue that identity is a compromise between who you want to be, and how you're seen by others. They'd work towards negotiating something socially agreeable.

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Here's my new days of the week: Not today, Not today, Not Today, Not Today, Not Today, Not Today and Maybe. :))

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Well... making up new nomenclature for theft, robbery, racism et cetera isn't serious critique; frivolous critique? Empty virtue signaling all the way up.

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Sometimes, it can be pretty useful just to call things what they are. Like, "No, that's not a joke. That's a crime. And the criminals should pay for it." Society's don't readily admit to even obvious systematic theft, robbery, and racism - they either disguise it as a form of paternalism, or claim it as justice for a perceived wrong. Many people close to slavery claimed it was a kind of responsibility-free eternal childhood for the slaves. Segregation was defended as "separate but equal." Native tribes were wiped out with claims that they were the violent ones.

It's serious business cutting through that bullshit. These days even billionaires whine that they're offended at the way people talk about them, but that doesn't mean there aren't people with legitimate grievances. Sure, the jargon seems stupid, but it's really incidental to coming up with ideas. You just can't come up with perspectives without naming things. In my experience, even two people used to having deep conversations are going to have their references, in-jokes, and by-words no one understands, and there's way stronger pressure when whole communities are having to articulate their basic truths in the face of oppression and lies.

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precisely

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Absolutely. Biology has been teaching for eons about Hybrid Vigor, yet so many racists ignore that part.

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Lotta people ignore the hard part; hybrid vigor works because you get strong/strong and weak/strong and strong/weak but weak/weak dies.

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Interdisciplinary research in the humanities is where my heart is for this right here: “Relentless digging into primary sources (usually outside of the music field) that my peers had never even considered consulting”. These are why your articles are so fascinating to me. Lush in perspectives, backed with research & data, anecdotes from your interesting background as an accomplished musician, and most of all: empathy. Thank you, Prof Gioia!

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My own researches have been focused upon Irish music, traditional and otherwise (a nod to Tin Pan Alley) over the years - which also claims a role in both instruments and dance steps relating to Jazz and its ancestry. I defer to those more expert in the latter, but I am reminded of a book about the Irish in America titled "How the Irish Became White" which reflected early years of discrimination in the US affected the role of the Irish in American society and how they evolved out of that early niche.

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Love it, Ted. Seems to me that outcasts must, by definition, find a place for themselves--their whole selves. They need to feel human, as do we all. New Orleans jazz was called "The Big Noise." A psychoanalyst friend of mine commented, "You have to make a big noise if no one is listening to you." All best, Peter G

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Great post. Poor people who have nothing at all but their lives, their bodies, and enough food from their masters to get up the next day able to work, possibly even deprived of sexual companionship of a spouse, can STILL make music, if necessary by singing and clapping their hands with no instruments at all. And people with no other ways to be happy and creative will sing among themselves and invent the great musical innovations of the world. It makes sense that it is the poor people, and the poorest of the poor, who make the big breakthroughs.

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The Dorians and Ionians weren't, for the most part slaves. Nor were the Lydians or Phygians. The Locrians were largely pirates.

For that matter, Lesbos, and much of what is today Anatolia, were as Greek as Greek could be in ancient times., and the cities of Aegean coast of Turkey had substantial Greek populations until the 1920s. Hell, Southern Italy and Sicily at one time were known as "Great Greece".

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Apr 26·edited Apr 26Author

You're wrong on this. Aesop was a Phrygian slave and so was Epictetus—and there were many others. Just do a Google search for "Phrygian slave" and see what you come up with. You will be surprised. You will also find many references to Lydian slaves—take a peak into Strabo the great ancient geographer, and see what you learn. The same is true of Locrians. Dorians and Ionians are different, but I acknowledge that in my essay. The more controversial modes were associated with slaves—who were pervasive in ancient Greek culture, and especially among musicians.

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There were lots of slaves in lots of tribes in Ancient Greece. Phrygia was a region of Anatolia.

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Technically, the vast majority of the Dorians were helots - state owned slaves. Sparta was tiny compared to its subject populations in Messenia and so on. And a considerable number of musicians in the ancient world were slaves. How often in ancient texts do they mention "flute girls?" But unlike the Dorians, the usual pattern of slavery in Greece, as in the rest of the world, is to trade those people to foreign lands at hubs like Cyprus where they wouldn't know the geography, language or customs of their final destinations. It's much harder to rebel or run away when you're a disoriented foreigner without a friendly face to help.

Lydian was an Anatolian language. Phrygian, was certainly not Greek. Yes, the modes are named after geographic regions, but the musicians the Greeks would have been thinking about were slaves from those regions. Often, in Greece, they renamed their slaves after their ethnicity because their being foreigners was to be their new identity - think Thrax for Thracian and the like in the old texts.

That's just a lot of specific context for Ted to have to explain in a sort of survey essay spanning a huge swathe of time.

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The epoch of musician slaves will surely return....or is it here already?

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IIRC, not all Dorians were under Sparta.

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Not all of them. Not Corinth, for instance, But do you think people in ancient Greece put their hands on their hips, wagged their fingers and said, "it's not fair to generalize - stereotypes are bad?" The idea that inter-Hellenic geographic terms might be tinged with xenophobia isn't exactly new. The Trojan War and the Persian Invasions - these were the exceptions. The Greeks were usually trying to subjugate each other first and foremost to the point that they couldn't so much as ward off the Macedonians, or the Romans

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Considering that the Dorians inhabited a largish portion of the Greek peninsula, I somehow doubt the Greeks heard "Dorian" and thought "slave".

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As a Canadian, I'd love it if my country was considered a peer to the US simply by landmass.

As has been mentioned by others, Greek Civilization was hardly constrained to what we would today call the "The Greek Peninsula." Besides the Peloponnese, where the Doric Greeks were, there was Attica, Boeotia, Euboea, Aetolia-Acarnania, Epirus, Ionia, and the more marginal Thessaly, Macedonia, and Thrace, just in "Greece." (Oddly, the latter three were often excluded the way that historically, Europeans often excluded Russia, Poland, and sometimes even Germany from "Europe"). Then, you have to keep in mind Crete and the Islands of the Aegean - but also Cyprus, which is today in dispute. Back then large portions of what is today Turkey (Asia Minor) were then Greek - Lesbos, Chios, Cnidus, Miletus. Portions of the Propontus and the Bosphorus were Greek. And of course, there were large portions of Southern Italy and Sicily that were Greek - the Magna Graecia. Geographic contiguity wasn't as important to how these civilizations formed as it became when the Europeans were drawing borders hundreds of years later.

I haven't studied the Greek modes besides that weird interlude in Plato's Republic, but Ted's point is, to me, as a classics major, believable and worth further consideration. Next time I bump into an old professor, I'll pick their brains about it. But in Aristophanes alone, there are enough slaves whose masters have renamed them by their place of origin or accent for me to consider this point credible, especially because I can see the evidence that Ted has read the classics more than I have.

Fine. Scholars often make over-interpreted claims, but their provocations needs to be taken seriously. Ted doesn't face peer review scrutiny - but nor does he face publish-or-die over-competition. If you're doubtful, go read his book and follow the footnotes. It sounds to me like Ted's suggesting there's something specific about the musical context of Ancient Greece these needs to be unpacked for the full weight of his claims to be appreciated.

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As Red Green said: People say it's wrong to generalise, but it's something I really enjoy!" :)))

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Dorians weren't slaves of Sparta. Dorians were the Spartans. They owned slaves themselves.

The helots (slaves of Spartans) were of different origins (losing wars or owing money could get you to that), but one big speculated one is from the indigenous population (Laconians) losing to Dorians, who established the Spartan state.

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Your last sentence about living and thinking in silos is profound and identifies were we are and are heading currently.

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MTE! The summation that blending cultures only improves a society should be shouted from the mountaintop in an effort to save our, soon to be, sorry butts.

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Agreed --there's a lot we don't learn in music school. I would advise music students to augment their studies with Ted's Substack...and mine!

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Especially about the place of the spirit in music.

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As someone who went to music school and then worked as an orchestral cellist for 10 years I can say that music students understand the place of spirit in music, they just have it crushed out of them by their sadistic tutors (or at least that's how it rolled in the early 80s.

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That's horrible. I didn't go to music school so I didn't have to deal with that. As a player it was put up or shut up. An open audition let you know where you stood with the competition. In my musical life there was nothing better than having a spiritual connection with the music and the players. Without that, it was another gig and the check is in the mail. I've played under some jerk conductors who attempted to browbeat the players but it never worked. We could see through there facade that they were trying to cover up their inadiquacies, and the orchestra always saved their bacon by playing well in spite of them.

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What instrument did you play and which orchestras? Certainly at the professional level musician's didn't brook any bullshit from conductors. I went to an elite classical performing college in Australia. It was highly selective. We did bugger all academic work. I used to joke that if you spelled your name correctly on the exam you would pass. The tutors were pretty abusive and the atmosphere was one of competition and hierarchy. That's not to say we weren't all friends and didn't have a whole lot of fun. Just that the "assessment" side of things was horrendous.

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I played snare drum and timpani. The first orchestra was the Peter Marenbloom Jr. Symphony when I was in high school, the Brentwood Symphony, both in California, @ a community symphony in Tulsa, OK., and in Sydney, in the 60s, The International Society for Contemporary Music. My son was a music major in Canberra and seems to have suvived the curriculum. Which music school did you attend?

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I was at the Victorian College of the Arts when it was still a premier institution. Some time in the early '90s they turned it into a "Fame-type" school, then they amalgamated it with the Con and it all went to shit. I worked with the State Orchestra of Victoria (I think it's Orchestra Victoria now) and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, cello.

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Ted, you are setting up straw men. Ever since Fernand Braudel's 'La Méditerranée et le Monde Méditerranéen à l'Epoque de Philippe II' appeared in 1949, academic historians have been talking about things that you seem to believe you discovered for yourself. And there is a flourishing school of "Atlantic Studies" these days. In my own area of academic expertise, "early music", Thomas Binkley and others showed us all the key importance of multi-culti Medieval Iberia way back in the '60's, and Jordi Savall has kept the faith ever since. Sorry, man, you aren't the first to get here.

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Show me where Brinkley or Savall identified the link between the Qiyan slaves of Baghdad and the French troubadours.

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In the field of Jewish music, the connections between Spain and the rest of Europe via maritime routes are very well understood. The slaves Gioia identifies go back even further, to courtesans working in Ancient Egypt and were well known to historians of stringed lutes (I think Sachs wrote on this?) Islamic music culture is obviously routed along Mediterranean lines (the proto-guitar again plays an important role) and its role in troubadour culture and courtly love is documented (see jstor) even though I asked a fairly highly esteemed academic about it a few years ago and they pretended to not know it. In all fairness, i don't think Gioia claimed to have discovered this from *primary* sources, he just emphasized it a bit more since this sort of thing is perhaps more popular, and rightly, in non-academic books. At any rate- it benefits all of us to continue to unpack this legacy.

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Love your work, your insights, your passion and your sharing. Thank you! This brings up a memory, slightly relevant to the picture you draw. I visited an Ottoman 'hospital' museum in western Turkey a few years back. Their focus was on mental wellbeing. Music and sound was central to their treatment protocols along with rose medicine. I experienced a sense of wonder along with the awareness of the pathways and movement of music through this ancient east-west cultural crossroads.

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That's fascinating John, can you possibly share the name/city of this place?

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Edirne, here's a link

https://turkisharchaeonews.net/museum/health-museum-edirne

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Thank you, that’s very interesting and I’m fascinated by the story and the work they did. Sorry for my english.

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Thanks so much! Interesting that the focus was on mental health, much like the early days of homeopathy.

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I studied music — including history, theory, and musicology, up to the doctorate level — in the ‘70s and ‘80s. I can fit all of what you’re saying into that framework — but you’re obviously right: I never learned any of that in college or at the university. I appreciate your knowledge and perspective immensely, Ted!

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Fascinating article, but there’s an error. The Aeolians weren’t a slave group conquered by the Greeks. They were a Greek tribe from Thessaly and Boeotia who settled in Anatolia.

I agree with you about the importance of water. Usually, port cities have the best music. It was a port city that dominated the first wave of the British Invasion: Liverpool. And some of the best English musicians of the 20th century came from Irish Catholic working class backgrounds. True outsiders in a country like England that is based on a class system.

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Aeolians were displaced and enslaved by Dorians.

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But they were a Greek tribe. It was common for Greek tribes to war against each other. The Greeks in the ancient period were only unified when they faced an external threat, like from the Persians.

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Precisely.

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So did the Lydians only use that mode, the Dorians only theirs? And then they all assembled in Greece "proper" where they were named? I think not. You could just call each mode by a number and it would be the same thing. Just different ways to run through the 7 notes of the major scale by choosing a different place to start.

Interesting to dwell on that aspect without mentioning that other cultures have far more than 12 notes in their octave.

I'm sorry but with all the bashing of dead white Europeans combined with the meshugas of DEI everywhere, this seems a bit much. Great article in the NYT, mostly because of the commenters, on how this led to the decline of NPR. Every thinking person knows that New Orleans was diverse, that crossroads where cultures merge are the most interesting places on the planet, and that yeah water was, and still is, rather important when it comes to moving things around from place to place.

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Dean, don't you think the tonal center is important though? After all, the C Ionian does have a completely different feeling than the A aolian , B locrian, F lydian, etc, when you center the pieces around those tonics.

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Absolutely. That's why good composers/musicians use them all to match the emotions they're trying to get out of the listeners. I just find it bizarre that because they were named after a geographic area that one might mistakenly think that they only played those modes there. This city is happy, that one is sad. Ted has written about how numerous cultures all had their shamanic leaders, the leader of the band, playing diffferent songs for funerals, weddings, festivals. Interestingly I just stumbled across a mention of Lydia rereading Sophocles' "Antigone" which made me sit up a bit straighter. I can't even remember those damn names despite umpteen attempts, I now just go I II III etc. I play through all of them in every key on guitar and piano 6 days a week, wouldn't have it any other way.

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This brings more dimension to the phrase of whistling while we work...envision the outcast from wealthy trappings of comfort, Snow White, reduced to joyous simple labor, pruning the little garden plants and dusting and polishing the little dwarf house, with the happy seven dwarves returning from their honest, grubby work at the mine. Outcasts all fill the void with creation... pleasant and peasant sounds that fill the air. Loved your insights, Ted.

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Oompah, Loompah, oompidy do, I have another puzzle for you......

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The same goes for science. Our standard history says that it started with Christian Europe in 1500. This skips over the more important fact that Christian Europe violently SUPPRESSED science for 1000 years while it developed fast in China and Persia and Syria. Science re-entered Europe via the Muslims in Spain and Turkey, the same path as music... but only after the Popes had lost some of their political force.

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Where did you study? I was taught that the Renaissance was the result of Eastern influences in grade school 70 years ago.

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Sorry, but we were taught in high school in the 1970s that the chinese invented calculus. Everyone knows this who isn't an American.

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Ah... rod calculus < integral calculus or differential equations.

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Watch the movie Caveman with Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach and Dennis Quaid. It has a unique and entertaining take of the origin of music in prehistoric times.

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