Helen P. wrote: > Oral traditions help pass down subtleties and artistry, but we need writing > to help us remember our rich culture.
Ah, well. That is where I think we might have a paradigm mismatch.
Take the dance or music out of context, out of the "oral" tradition, and
it is different dance or music. Something new. When you write it down,
it changes. That is good, but it isn't helping us to remember a rich
oral culture. It is passing on a rich written culture.
I'm no musician, but "the dots" aren't all there is to dance music, not
by any stretch of the imagination. Likewise "the instructions" and a dance.
If we dance an interpretation of words found on a musty bit of paper, to
an interpretation of the tune on that bit of paper, we have created
something new. It may be very close to what the person who wrote it
down meant, especially if it has clues to cultural norms on it. But it
You only have to look at the interpretations of early dance according to
Nonsuch and the Dolmesch Society, to see how a written dance
instructions and music can be translated into two very different oral
cultures. Likewise, you only have to look at Pilling and written cribs,
to see how one dance culture can be presented in very different ways on
Writing helps *us* remember *now*, but it isn't a substitute for passing
along an oral tradition to the future and it *will* be (mis)interpreted
by people in the future who didn't receive the oral traditon with the
That is a very double edged sword. And writing everything down, and
passing on the oral tradition that teachers should look at the writing
if they have a doubt, is a very blunt instrument. I see the RSCDS as
trying to create a written tradition of dance, but spreading that
I can't fault the RSCDS for trying. I can fault the RSCDS for not
spreading an understanding of the limitations of the technique.