I'd like to explore the role of song and dance in permaculture. Permaculture started out as sustainable agriculture but grew to encompass society as a whole, from establishing a sense of community to local currencies. Among our human needs, food is certainly a biggie but as I see it permaculture has expanded to embrace other needs as well. This is where song and dance come in. To my knowledge, all indiginous cultures incorporate them into their lives. This leads me to believe that singing and dancing are also needs, perhaps spiritual ones. Before the petroleum age really got underway, singing and dancing were part of people's lives. Now this is relegated to highly skilled (or at least highly paid) performance artists and the rest of us have become passive spectators. As an aside, I was reading to my son a book about the Wright brothers and was surprised to find that often after a hard day of flying their airplane/glider at Kitty Hawk they got together at night with other men and sang, played the banjo and harmonica. So perhaps part of our descent into a postpetroleum age would be to bring back singing and dancing into everyday life, something that everyone does, whether they're good at it or not. Any thoughts?
I came to a similar conclusion after a neighbor brought me (and as much of the neighborhood as he could convince) to folk dance lessons.
Among other benefits, dance seems to be a great way to develop what Robert Pirsig called "gumption."
Based on what little I know of anthropology, it seems very likely that rhythmic activity in general is an instinctive way for humans to establish group identity and territory. It seems to be a general pattern, from military songs and national anthems, to cars with high-powered subwoofers and protest chants. I think the drive to sing and dance together in a way that says "this place is ours" is as instinctive as the vocalizations of gibbons.
Songs also help people to work together, as evidenced by sea chanteys, gandy dancing, etc.
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The dogs love it when I sing and dance in the garden..................the wife says it's good we have a high fence.
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posted 8 years ago
I think when people sing and dance together, it builds a sense of community. An example of that would be church congregations singing. I got a sense of this once at a party put on by my sons' pipe and drum band. They're in a performance band but at this party we did some Scottish folk dancing. It was fun, a mix of people of varying skill levels, but what struck me was that before this, I considered the people at the party to be acquaintances. After that, when I saw them again, they were more like friends and I felt much more familiar with them.
I have often observed over the years that both my vegitation & livestock are happier, healthier & produce more abundantly when I spend time singing & playing music in their presence. In my absence they seem to get depressed & listless. Isnt music in the garden part of the basis of sucess with the "Sonic Bloom" processes? I highly recomend all forms of singing & dancing as a form of soul food both for yourself & your surroundings!
My wife is a Filipina... They don't get together without singing, be it with guitar or karaoke. Same with most Asian cultures. I don't think it odd so much as our songless culture is odd. My Yf sings and plays guitar at the local hospital for those with dementia. She has a soft voice and sings happy tunes. They love it, and for the rest of the day their symptoms abate some. I play with the church music team, I can share my heart in ways words just don't work.
Commercial music seems to have fallen into vocal (or instrumental) gymnastics and marketing. Some of the musicians rely so heavily on electronic boxes to stay on key that pitch shifting a note has become a part of their vocal sound. No wonder old music is so popular.
Anyway, I think TV and radio (and you tube?) have stolen something very valuable from us in doing music together as a family and community. Dance as well, I tend not to speak of it as much, because I don't do much But I like to watch. Children are some of the best dancers. Story telling is another mostly lost art, I try reading to my kids, but run out of breath a lot (leads to yawning) because I have never really learned to breath right.
Great topic! (although I see it hasn't generated much response). We love singing and don't have much time to sing since we started farming-- so we are (hopefully) going to have a Sing and Farm internship at our place this spring. I am thinking that ideally we will learn ancient planting harvesting and milking songs-- and then get to sing them while we are planting, harvesting, and milking. I remember when i was in India I overheard someone singing a milking song (well I think it was a milking song)-- and it seemed so magical and so extraordinary-- . How come we so rarely sing while we work? Or maybe some people do? anyway, check out our website catehillorchard for more info.
In the hills and valleys of the Ozarks before everyone had a tv and a computer to entertain them there were house parties were people got together and played music, sang, and danced. I have been to a few of those years ago and it was real fun. Wish i could get that to happen again.
I do sing while I farm! And while I cook, and clean, walk, drive & grocery shop.. (I turn the volume down but still get funny looks)
I think its good for our health to sing and dance & everyone should be able to participate without fear or inhibition.
"If only the best birds sang the woods would be silent" -unknown
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