In the space between Christmas and New Year’s I’ve been looking through the “Children’s Picture Dictionary,” which my dear friend Dr. Megan Biesele helped get done – it’s a communal effort by the San people of Namibia/Botswana to produce a written children’s picture dictionary of their unwritten language. It promises to be a model for other languages which have as yet no dictionary. Wonderful children’s drawings of animals – the hartebeest, spotted hyena, striped mongoose, blue wildebeest – and that’s just the first two pages! Also fire-making sticks, ostrich egg, gemsbok tracks, thumb piano, rain, and most wonderful, the picture of “sing.” Megan is based here in Austin – her home – and if you ever get a chance to hear her talk about her years in Africa, working with the San people – or anything else- don’t miss it.
I’ve just started “Capturing Music: the Story of Notation” by Thomas Forrest Kelly. It addresses the recording of pitch, the recording of rhythm – which just stokes the unslaked curiosity to know what temple music sounded like 3000 years ago, what Greek choruses sounded like, what our first human songs were?