Tim Buckley (left) burst onto the North American music scene from practically nowhere in the late 60’s. In the mire of Psychedelic funk and the early stages of Hard rock, Tim was singing in his Irish tenor, played folk music.
‘Folk’ is a synonym for ‘People.’ Each unique People of each nation has their own music.
Tim, who was influenced by Bob Dylan and typical 60’s rock, showed no resemblance to these influences. He was untrained musically, and was playing what seem to come naturally. He was half-Irish, had an Irish name, and although being totally American, began playing the kind of music that the Irish (and Europeans in general) had been playing for Aeons.
Tim died under odd circumstances when his son, Jeff (right,) was very young. The two never met each other. Yet Jeff, by all accounts, was a carbon copy of his father. Jeff, who was also untrained, erupted onto the music scene in the 90’s, admist the cacophonic fog of alternative Rock and Grunge. His acclaimed (and only ever recorded album) Grace, stood apart and was a blend of many influences, yet he still sang in the same classic European style, and exhibited the same startling vocal range as his father. This was not a coincidence, but passed down. Neither Tim nor Jeff ever reached the heights of stardom. (It’s worth mentioning that Jeff also died under questionable circumstances.)
If we can admit that traits passed down from father to son are genetic in nature, is it so unreasonable to consider that the experiences, memories, and traits of an entire People are also inherited? After all, it is only the broader genetic pool of individuals we are talking about.
Allow me to quote Theoretical Biologist Rupert Sheldrake, who provides a basis for Ancestral memory in his theory of ‘Morphic Resonance‘:
” The fields organizing the activity of the nervous system are likewise inherited through morphic resonance, conveying a collective, instinctive memory. Each individual both draws upon and contributes to the collective memory of the species. This means that new patterns of behaviour can spread more rapidly than would otherwise be possible. For example, if rats of a particular breed learn a new trick in Harvard, then rats of that breed should be able to learn the same trick faster all over the world, say in Edinburgh and Melbourne. There is already evidence from laboratory experiments (discussed in A New Science of Life) that this actually happens.
The resonance of a brain with its own past states also helps to explain the memories of individual animals and humans. There is no need for all memories to be “stored” inside the brain.
Social groups are likewise organized by fields, as in schools of fish and flocks of birds. Human societies have memories that are transmitted through the culture of the group, and are most explicitly communicated through the ritual re-enactment of a founding story or myth, as in the Jewish Passover celebration, the Christian Holy Communion and the American thanksgiving dinner, through which the past become present through a kind of resonance with those who have performed the same rituals before.”
“They contain a built-in memory given by self-resonance with a morphic unit’s own past and by morphic resonance with all previous similar systems. This memory is cumulative. The more often particular patterns of activity are repeated, the more habitual they tend to become.”
My tastes and preferences are given a context when I consider that our memories and experiences as a people are passed down from generation to generation. When I listen to Irish folk music (being of Irish ancestry,) for example, it feels somehow transcendental and timeless to me. This is anecdotal, but it is the experience for many others of many distinct cultures. When I spent time with Uncle Jeebers, I had the privilege a few times of seeing him totally at-home singing Italian songs in the town, and seeing how the local people joined in and sang along too. This is only natural given Jeebers’ strong ancestral ties to Italy.
Julian Lee, in his article “In Praise of the White Singing Voice,” says it best:
“But you can’t fool the ear. The sound of the White voice is instinctively more attractive to me. Why shouldn’t it be? The White voice has resonance in my memory and genes, and maybe lifetimes of White mothers singing me lullabies, and fathers giving me advice, and association with other White voices. And the White vocal style somehow resonates with values that are a part of my White DNA.
I note that a White can learn to sound like a Black, as in the case of Britney Spears. Also a Black can learn to sound like a White, as in the case of Nat King Cole. If left to themselves, however, the two races evolve different voices.”
The singing voice is one of the many traits that a People develop over generations. It is a reminder of the precious and unique qualities that each Folk has.