By Karen S Mistry

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You hear a vocalization (phrase) and then a pause, then another vocalization and pause, and so on. Some people hear them in pairs, the second a response to the first. Do you hear them that way, or as separate vocalizations? Each vocalization has a similar rhythm and is composed of five to eight tones. The phrase is a little higher or lower each time. If you listen closely, you also hear that the thrush can produce more than one tone at once, a kind of two-tone harmony. This is the result of the way his syrinx (voice box) is constructed.

Big Cove, near Cherokee, North Carolina, 1989. The Calhouns are leaders in preserving traditional songs and dances among the east coast Cherokee. When is a song beautiful? When is it beautifully sung? What voice quality is pleasing, and what grates on the ear? How should a musician dress? How long should a performance last? Not all cultures agree on these questions about what is proper and what is beautiful. Some people in the United States find Chinese opera singing strained and artificial, but some Chinese find the European bel canto opera style imprecise and unpleasant.

How the community relates to itself is another important aspect of performance. This is the place to consider music in relation to age, gender, identity, region, and class. For example, do men, women, old people, and young people experience music differently? We will consider this issue later in this chapter. 7). The community is situated in history and borne by memory, official and unofficial, whether remembered or recorded or written down. Musical experiences, performances, and communities change over time and space; they have a history, and that history reflects changes in the rules governing music as well as the effect of music on human relationships.

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