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The Royal Anthropological Institute Blacking Lecture

will be given by

Professor Ruth Finnegan FBA, Open University

Where Does Music Come From?

Thursday 1 November 2018
3:00pm, Meeting Room 1, Floor 7, Sir Duncan Rice Library, University of Aberdeen, 75 Bedford Rd, Aberdeen AB24 3UE
All welcome, no need to book.

The lecture will be followed by refreshments. For more information, please contact elphinstone@abdn.ac.uk 01224 272 996.

‘Now much aware of my mortality, I feel all the more the eternity of music’ (words of John Blacking shortly before his death in 1990)

Where indeed could music, that miracle activity, have come from? The lecture starts from the related question, long-debated and still highly controversial, of the origin of language: as heard speech, as seen writing, as multi-perceived body language? as essentially arising from ‘ha ha’ expression, ‘yo heave ho’ effort, the Tower of Babel? out of poetry? inherent in our brains?, through the need for community, or from evolution as some modern theorists would have it? The question of the origin of music has been less considered but it can be traced through much same pathways. But there is an additional factor: as just about all theorists agree, music came earlier than speech and is somehow more fundamental. We must, as John Blacking did, look deeper.

Ruth Finnegan OBE is Emeritus Professor (Sociology), The Open University, Fellow of the British Academy, International Fellow of The American Folklore Society, and Honorary Fellow of Somerville College Oxford. She spent her childhood in Donegal and Derry, and then received first class honours in Classics and a doctorate in Anthropology at Oxford. This was followed by fieldwork and university teaching in Africa (principally Sierra Leone and Nigeria). She then joined the pioneering Open University as a founding member of the academic staff, where she spent the rest of her career, apart from three years (and more fieldwork) at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. Besides running the small family-based Callender Press, she is now a full-time writer and researcher and has won many prizes for her fiction and nonfiction books.

This event is in collaboration with The Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen.

Meeting Room 1
Floor 7, Sir Duncan Rice Library
University of Aberdeen
75 Bedford Rd
AB24 3UE