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    Thanks to 277 generous backers for our Interfictions Indiegogo Campaign, we raised $10,318 by the time our campaign ended at midnight, July 14th, 2014.  When we launched on June 3rd, we were staggered to find donations doubling almost daily, until after about 3 weeks we had reached our original target goal of $8,500, and were able to move on to our Stretch Goal of $10,000.

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    INTERFICTIONS issue #3 is up online!

    The editors of Interfictions Online are happy to announce the birth of the journal’s latest issue, on May 22, 2014!

    The Spring 2014 issue’s non-fiction offerings include Mark Craddock’s poignant collage in Aerial Acrobatics and Gender Reassignment Surgery – A How-To Guide, while Inda Lauryn’s Parallels and Transitions splices analysis of contemporary female vocalists into a graduate school memoir. Isabel Yap’s Life Is Not a Shoujo Manga speaks for itself. And in an interview with Jeff VanderMeer and Jeremy Zerfoss, the two creators discuss their illustrated guide to writing, Wonderbook.

    The fiction offerings remix tropes from ghosts to automata, with new work by Richard Butner, Su-Yee Lin, Kat Howard, Tade Thompson and S. Craig Renfroe Jr.

    Several of the poems in this issue reimagine older narratives: Sridala Swami’s AI Winter draws on the Mahabharata, Sonya Taaffe’s Double Business on Hamlet, and Mary Alexandra Agner’s Hypothesis Between Your Ribs on the brief life of Charles Darwin’s daughter.


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    Music and Categories: An Interstitial Speculation on Record Collections
    Warren Senders, 2003

    I. An Interstitial Speculation on Record Collections

    I began buying lps when I was around 12 or so, with money earned from household chores. I got pretty good at cleaning bathrooms. At a dollar a loo, it took me a while to accumulate enough for a serious shopping spree, but I used the time to think about what I was gonna buy.

    I had a few records already: a couple of Pete Seeger albums, a recording of Pete's brother Mike doing old–timey Southern music (a parent in pre–Christmas rush no doubt figuring that all Seegers were acceptable to an 11–year–old), and some other odds and ends. But this was 1970, and I was 12, and I'd just been introduced to the music of Frank Zappa (oddly, by a music teacher in my junior high school), and it was time for me to enter the consumerist society on my own. Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Mothers of Invention, the soundtrack to "Woodstock" — I knew what would make me happy.

    Indonesian Guitar

    Always a forward thinker, I waited until I could really make an impact on the economy. With a hundred dollars' worth of bathrooms behind me, I went with my parents and younger brother on a Saturday shopping spree. I had plotted my purchases for so long that the actual act was anticlimactic. Knowing exactly where the discs were in the store, I walked in, selected my goodies, and carried them triumphantly to the cash register. I recall my mother looking distinctly skeptical at the sight of Zappa's Freak Out!, which I proudly showed her on the drive home.

    In the beginning, sorting my collection wasn't hard. Fifteen or twenty discs present no major taxonomical problems. Whichever one was on the turntable at the time was at the front of the pile, and the current least–favorite was at the back. But I remember trying to organize my parents' record collection, and finding things a little more confusing.

    I knew that classical music came in "composers" (though I doubt I could have told you what that meant), and I knew that performers' names were somehow different. Immediately: a problem. An all–Bach recording could be alphabetized under B, even if it was Landowska at the harpsichord...but what of a disc featuring Menuhin playing music by four different composers? Under M, I suppose. And Claude Bolling's "Two–Beat Mozart" — a surrealist rendering of Wolfgang A's greatest hits done as dixieland?

    Among the Bach and Mozart there were a few items which my father had purchased for reasons of "cultural exposure" for me and my brother (never imagining that two decades later both of us would be deeply involved with African music!). The Music of the Dan, a tribe in West Africa, a Folkways assortment of African drumming, and others of similar ilk. Is "Dan" filed under D, and Africa under A?

    I don't remember all the ad hoc solutions I found. It was irrelevant in any case; the six or seven discs my father actually listened to were always next to the player. The others provided a safe place for me to explore the problems of category, and were thus my introduction to the notion of interstitiality in the world of musical performance and artifact.


    By the time I was fifteen I had over two hundred lps, and sorting them was more of a conundrum. Some were clearly linked by genre, others, just as clearly, not. To complicate things, I'd branched out, collecting jazz, blues and comedy along with rock. My solution was inelegant but effective: I alphabetized everything by the first word on the lp spine. The result was a marvelous confusion which negated all the constraints of idiom: Bobby "Blue" Bland was next to George Carlin who was next to Ornette Coleman who was next to Crosby, Stills & Nash. It worked perfectly. I always knew where everything was, and I enjoyed the serendipitous juxtapositions of genre that emerged as I contemplated my burgeoning collection. Jonathan Winters was next to Ben Webster, and if I felt like it I could shift directly from Granny Frickert's surrealist narratives to the breathy lyricism of the 20th century's most romantic saxophonist. Sometimes I felt like it; my friends never knew what to expect when I went to the stereo.

    By age nineteen I'd extended myself still further, into what was then called "ethnic music." An older friend who worked in the music business got me access to all the records that were appearing on labels like Nonesuch Explorer, Lyrichord and Folkways — and Africa nestled beside the Allman Brothers, just a hop, skip and jump from Louis Armstrong.

    My collection's organization provided a very high amount of information at one level, and almost none at another. It was a perfect method for me; I had a keen memory and a love of bizarre juxtapositions. I could retrieve anything within a minute or so, because I knew what I owned, and I remembered the keywords. To a casual browser, those boxes of lps were a source of bafflement. How were they organized? Many people didn't even recognize that it was alphabetical!


    An alphabetic system can accept any input in the default phonetic system (what would I have done with an album titled in Arabic?). Because the sorting criteria were only tangentially related to those of genre, my record collection offered no single place to find a particular style (the sampler disc titled Jazz Jamboree was of course found under J, but fortuitous nomenclatural side–effects do not a general categorical structure make).

    I knew that it wasn't the method that the record stores used. Whenever I went out on a buying expedition, I would visit particular parts of a store, guided by actual signs directing me to specific genres. It was clear that the commercial structures which guided manufacture and distribution of the music I loved didn't use the same criteria I did.

    It's been a long time. Nowadays those big vinyl slabs are only  found in specialty stores — and CDs, which supplanted them in the 1980s, are now falling out of favor themselves; the students in my undergraduate classes are all downloading music, carrying whole libraries of songs on tiny technological wonders I can't even see. There is still a music business, however, and when I pop into what is still nostalgically called a record store, I bump up against some of the same problems of category. (Incidentally, I finally broke down about fifteen years ago and established some categories of genre; it was getting too hard to find things in a collection of over 700 lps.)

    What I found on those first buying trips became truer and truer as the amount and variety of available music expanded: one store's categories weren't the same as another's. Some artists and styles seemed fixed; every store had Bach's music in the "classical" department, and John Coltrane's in "jazz." But there were always oddballs, artifacts that resisted easy classification. Was Carlos' Switched–On Bach to be found under B for Bach in the classical section...or in the small catch–all bin of "electronic music"?


    The market undergoes transformations, depending on what's hot and what's not. In 1970, dance music from Jamaica was an exotic curiosity, found in the "ethnic music" categories when it was found at all. Ten years later, every blond suburban boy within sight was strumming a guitar and evoking Bob Marley's stuttering recollection of "oba–oba–obaserving the hypocrites;" "reggae" was a category unto itself, no longer generically "ethnic," but a real live genre with styles and substyles all its own.

    Which is what happens to styles and forms of art that are both interstitial and commercially successful. Observe: reggae was the result of Jamaican musicians' encounter with American music; rhythmic structures were turned around, lyrics changed to address the musicians' concerns, instrumentation changed to accommodate the equipment that was available — and the result fermented in the Caribbean for a while before coming back to audiences in the US.

    II. Interstitial Speculation from a Record Collector

    One of the things that I found out about myself was that I seemed to prefer the music of artists who were hard to classify. Words like "eccentric," "oddball," and "uncategorizable" were magnets. The jazz musicians I liked the most were the ones in the "Talent–Deserving–Wider–Recognition" category in the DownBeat polls. When I discovered Harry Partch, who created his own orchestra of 43–tone–to–the–octave instruments to play his richly textured compositions, I thought I'd found the Holy Grail.


    Partch is a great example. Defining himself in opposition to the establishment of Western Classical composition and performance, he developed a new and different system of intonation, evolved a theory of composition, and created a repertoire of complex music which could not be played on standard instruments. The closest thing to a violin in Partch's orchestra was a viola with a 'cello fingerboard, played with a single sliding finger and sounding utterly unlike anthing from a string quartet or symphony. The closest thing to a piano was a reed organ whose keyboard now encompassed less than two full octaves — forty–three notes from a "G" to the next higher "G," which means a lot of keys in between. A marimba made, for God's sake, from tuned light bulbs. In his book, "Genesis of a Music," Partch railed against the classical music establishment, defining himself and his work in opposition to the prevailing canons of musical practice (and the prevailing practice of musical canons, needless to say).

    Where did I find his records? In the "Classical" department, that's where, which was a clear indicator that something wasn't quite right in the classification department. Partch didn't belong with Wagner, Beethoven and Schoenberg. He didn't belong with Louis Armstrong and Ornette Coleman either; there was no improvisation in his music, and no African–American sensibility either. Problem was, there was no category for people who didn't fit into categories — which meant that record–store clerks under time pressure needed to put him somewhere. And so I found him between Palestrina and Puccini.

    Taxonomy in the marketplace is motivated by practical and economic considerations. In order to sell something, it must be where buyers can find it, or they'll go away unsatisfied. A record or CD needs to have a specific location, and there needs to be a mechanism whereby somebody else can track it down, pick it up, and exchange money for it at the cash register. Which means that there are decisions to be made — decisions which are, in their essence, clerical, not aesthetic.


    The Sapir–Whorf hypothesis tells us that the language we use to describe our universe shapes our perceptions; once we name something, it acquires shape, boundary, definition. We don't see things that we haven't named — but the act of naming serves to exclude other possible ways of seeing. And hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting, thinking, and imagining.

    Which means that when we use a word to describe music, or prose, or visual art, or just about anything, that we're somehow creating a boundary. This is jazz — and this is not jazz. This is poetry, and this is not poetry. This is sculpture — and this is not sculpture.

    Remember the Zen Buddhist lightbulb joke? The punchline (not particularly funny, but pretty accurate) goes: "Three. One to screw it in, one to not screw it in, and one to neither screw it in or not screw it in."

    The word "interstitial" defines things, not by what they are or are not, but by what they are between. It is an unasking of the question, a neither–screwing–in–or–not–screwing–in of the hypothetical lightbulb. It's a challenge; an interrogation of taxonomy itself. This makes many people uncomfortable; once you know the implications of Sapir–Whorf, you can understand why. To question the default taxonomy is to question reality!

    III. Interstitial Speculative Fiction on Record Stores

    Which brings me to the next phase of this essay. I would like to examine a few possible "default taxonomies." Because I'm a musician, I'll focus on the default structures I observe in music...but the same processes apply anywhere else we human beings shape our universe by establishing boundaries. Because I am in the business of imagining, I'll frame my interrogations by imagining alternatives and exploring their implications. Because I've already established a hypothetical record store in your mind, that's where I'll begin.

    Imagine a record store in which the products were indexed by...

    ...the historical time period of the music.


    The earliest music would be at the back of the store, the most recent at the front. Contemporary composers of experimental electronic squawks and bleeps would be cheek to cheek with the latest dance beats; modern pop music from Uzbekistan (try googling on the name Yulduz Usmanova) would be hanging out with the latest jazz records...and Hindustani dhrupad music would be far in the back, next to the motets of Johannes Ockeghem and just a little ahead of the ancient Gagaku orchestral tradition of Japan. A 7–inch "ep" record of neolithic instruments rescued from a swamp in Finland would presumably be at the furthest extremity of the room. To find music, you'd have to know when it was from.

    But what about music that doesn't partake of a single definitive time period? Revivalist performances of New Orleans Jazz? Pieces by contemporary composers for mediaeval instruments? Switched–on Bach? Would the soundtrack for a film set in Victorian England be found along with the music of that period? If so, what about the soundtrack for a film set in the distant future? Or the score for Jurassic Park?

    Oy. "Temporal interstitiality" seems to present quite a few problems.

    ...the music's country of origin.

    The store would be laid out somehow as a map of the world. Music from here would be there, music from there would be here, and music from that country would be next to music from this country.

    African pop music would be next to tribal drumming, American teen pop would be next to jazz and country–western, and Schubert next to Kraftwerk. To find music, you'd have to know where it was from.


    But what about music that's from many different places? Is an Australian aboriginal country–western band meant to go with the didgeridoo records...or with the Hank Williams? What about the great big–band led by the Japanese woman Toshiko Akiyoshi and her American husband Lew Tabackin? What about Willy Schwartz's CD Live for the Moment, whose basic tracks were recorded in India...with overdubs done in Chicago? Or the Tuvan trio Huun–Huur–Tu's experimental collaboration with the Bulgarian State Women's Chorus?

    Oy again.

    ...the music's function.

    Dance music would be in one part of the building, music "for listening" would be somewhere else, and there would be specific places where a buyer could find, for example, music for religious observance, music of social commentary, music accompanying dramas and films, and whatever other functions we can conceive.

    Reggae, rock'n'roll, and polka, all found under "dance." Abstract free–jazz, Ravi Shankar's sitar, and Schubert's lieder, all found in "music for listening." Bob Dylan, Victor Jara, and Malian griots, under "social commentary." Vedic hymns, the chordal chanting of Tibetan Buddhist monks, Gregorian chants, and all the world's religious music, all found together in an improbable acoustic ecumenicism.


    But what about Duke Ellington's Sacred Concerts, meant for performance in church, and including his great hymn "Come Sunday" along with fiery tenor saxophone solos by Paul Gonsalves? What about the late Fela Kuti, who decried the robber barons of "I.T.T. — International Thief Thief!" while his band laid down the most irresistible dance groove in all Africa? What about music that was originally meant to accompany the dance, but which time has transformed into a classical artifact meant for reverent listening — like, perhaps, much of Mozart? Who decides whether John Coltrane's A Love Supreme is music for listening or religious observance (remember, there's a church in San Francisco in which this record is an essential sacrament!)? And what about people who like to listen to dance music, or vice versa?

    And Oy a third time.

    ...a completely idiosyncratic set of criteria.

    In the film High Fidelity, John Cusack's character keeps his records filed, not by genre or alphabetically, but "autobiographically." Each major event in Rob's life is associated with particular pieces of music, particular artists and particular styles. To look through his shelves of lps is to climb inside his own personal history.

    Rob runs a record store, but it's a fair bet that his store isn't laid out the way his personal library is.

    You see the problem, don't you? No matter what set of classifications we use, there will always be some things that either fit in more than one place, and some things that don't fit anywhere.

    The fascinating thing about a label like "interstitial" is that the phenomena it describes flicker in and out. What is "interstitial" in one system of classification is, er, "stitial" in another. Reggae was an interstitial form for American audiences in the 1970s, but you can be sure that it was mainstream for most Jamaicans!

    IV. Toward a Theory of Interstitial Types

    There are different types of interstitiality, and there are different levels of typing which we can apply. Most of the people you'll meet on this website are writers; some are visual artists; some are musicians. The in–between–ness of their work is a function of their dissatisfaction with labels inside a given artistic medium; "we're writing fiction, but we're not happy with the terms the marketplace uses to define our particular genres." Most of have a hard time imagining an artistic medium midway between, say, prose fiction and music. Or do we? Isn't poetry the art of crafting words with deep attention to the way they sound?

    But I digress. The different forms of interstitiality are beautifully manifest in the universe of music, and I want to give a few examples.


    'Syncretism' is the word given to the phenomena that exist at the boundaries of different cultures. Places where multiple influences from multiple places had a chance to meet. Historically these have been seaports and trade cities, places like New Orleans, Odessa, Kingston, Liverpool, and Johannesburg. People who grow up in this atmosphere shift easily between the cultures of their parents, their neighbors, and their trading partners. They come to adulthood conversant in widely varied ways of description and expression, and the boundaries assumed by a monocultural life seem infinitely more permeable.

    Jazz is a perfect example of a musical form that emerged from syncretic interactions between cultures, weaving strands of tradition from Europe, Latin America, and Africa into a tapestry of unanticipated and original power and beauty. Because the form combined so many elements, it had to evolve its own standards of quality; it could not be judged by the same criteria as any of its ingredients. Jazz listeners had to evolve as the music did...and once they did, the form began to transcend its own interstitiality, dividing into subgenres and stylistic categories within which a newer, more finely grained interstitiality became possible. Instead of a music which occupied a confusing middle ground between European harmony and African rhythmic conception (a gross oversimplification, but what the hell), it became a music in which tenor saxophonists were expected to choose between the dominant influences of Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. One or the other; which side are you on? Other jazz musicians had similar choices: you could be a bopper, a swingster, a "moldy fig." As the music grew in complexity, more possibilities emerged, categories between categories which grew into recognized styles and approaches thanks to the genius and charisma of particular artists...and which then spawned interstitialites of their own in all directions.

    Note that this is a sort of broad interstitiality, a general idiomatic transformation emerging from the collision and interpenetration of cultures. As such, its music, poetry, art, dance, and other expressions are not necessarily conscious of themselves as existing between genres. An individual artist inside a genre may seek a position of interstitiality: "I imagine a musical form that combines the rigor of the string quartet with the rhythmic vitality of African drumming," and then spend years developing a new form that answers to these specifications — but when an entire culture is interstitial to begin with (as was irrefutably the case with African–Americans in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century), its music is simply an expression and manifestation of that inter–cultural position. While the musicians who made jazz evolve and grow were surely aware of their own influences and of the ways in which they combined conceptions from different places and times (witness Jelly Roll Morton at the Library of Congress demonstrating the various influences on his piano playing, discussing each in turn and showing how they were combined in his original approach), they were for the most part too busy making their music and their livelihoods to articulate their positions at a cultural/historical nexus.


    Contrast the "syncretic interstitiality" with that of the individual who (through quirkiness, cussedness or a commanding artistic vision) imagines a new and different path and stubbornly follows it. Harry Partch is a good example. Robert Rutman and John Zorn are two others. Often they are rejected by their peers and colleagues, described as eccentrics, lunatics, or, occasionally, geniuses. These folks have their own melanges of influence — some from childhoods more bizarre than we can imagine (Partch's parents were former Christian missionaries who kept their New Mexico house full of Chinese artifacts — and he had a teenage job playing piano for the local silent movie house, within earshot of Native American tribal singing and drumming), others consciously sought out (as a teenager rejected by my peers, I began looking for the most obscure and bizarre music I could find, and embarked on a self–training program of listening to things that sounded weird...over and over until they sounded normal). This is a deliberate interstitiality, an artistic position from which all contributing influences can be spotted and articulated.

    Conscious eccentrics, stubborn visionaries, madmen and madwomen — these people seem to flourish in syncretic cultures where there are a lot of influences to draw from, emerging in places where those influences come together in unexpected ways. When a society shows a high degree of diversity, it's a virtual certainty that somebody somewhere will start thinking of putting together cultural ingredients in ways that hadn't been imagined before — and a diverse culture implies a tolerance for "deviations from the norm," and a recognition that there are different norms to begin with, an understanding that may not be found in highly traditional societies. In homogeneous cultures, individual eccentricities may be relatively significant, but almost imperceptible to an outsider: the Hindustani vocalist Kumar Gandharva was (and still is) considered a shockingly radical innovator in the closed world of "khyal" singing, but a listener unfamiliar with Indian classical vocals would be unlikely to hear any real difference between his singing and that of any other highly ranked artist in the genre — whereas even a listener with minimal acquaintance with Western musical traditions would be able to tell that Robert Rutman's droning sheet–metal instruments are emphatically not part of the musical mainstream. In a unified culture, it takes very little to be out of the ordinary, and being a significant innovator can be dangerous; in a diverse and heterogeneous culture, you have to work harder to be an eccentric, but it's probably less likely to get you kicked out of the community.

    Schwartz Live

    These singletons stake their claims way out on the outskirts of an idiom, and with a modicum of luck, other listeners, readers, or viewers may take inspiration from a trip to the borders. Some of these may set up shop elsewhere, expressing homage to a particular visionary not through imitation, but by following their example in a willingness to risk all, or nearly all. Inspired lunatics like Partch and Rutman don't generate "styles" or "genres" so much as they offer liberating examples to other nascent lunatics, and they're not necessarily "interstitial" so much as they are, as it were, "extrastitial."

    Yet another type of "interstitiality" is that which emerges as the expression of an economically marginalized people. Again emerging from the complex phenomena of cultural syncretism, "economic interstitiality" can trigger new styles of music or art as a function of what kinds of technology and materials are available to people with fewer resources. Trinidad's famous steel "pans" were crafted from leftover oil drums discarded by American military and commercial vessels...had the Trinidadians been wealthy enough to afford band instruments to begin with, an entire instrumental genre would never have emerged. An economically excluded population has its own very different expressive needs, and the song forms, poetry and art it evolves will not be that of the dominant culture, even if some of the ingredients are the same. Klezmer music is a splendid example — a powerfully creative recrafting of Western musical norms to meet the artistic demands of Europe's marginalized, ghettoized Jewish population.

    Sometimes a population may not be economically disenfranchised, but may perceive itself as being excluded from the dominant mainstream in some other way. White American/European youth culture in the 1960s is a good example. The musical forms which emerged during this turbulent period expressed the alienation of a substantial part of the world's young people in music which incorporated elements of African–American blues and European ballads along with Indian ragas and practically anything else that was available. Interstitial? Sure, at least at  the beginning...but this new compound idiom became a genre all to itself so quickly that interstitiality within it was possible almost immediately. Think of all those hyphenated forms that gathered life within themselves between 1966 and today. Blues–rock, folk–rock, art–rock, psychedelic–rock, raga–rock, Latin–rock, prog–rock, punk–rock, jazz–rock, country–rock...The mind reels.


    The very act of establishing a form is to mark a point in expressive space around which one's work, and the work of others, may coalesce. And once a point is marked, the possibility is inherent: find another point, and mark out the territory in between. This is what we do, always. Any new piece of art, even those completely within an idiom, is somehow interstitial — because to be new, it has to be different from what precedes it. (Remember Borges' Pierre Menard, who rewrote Cervantes' Don Quixote from an entirely different and contemporary perspective, creating a work of literature which was word for word identical with the original, but in no respects an imitation? Here is a case in which two identical artifacts occupy different positions in the artistic universe: Cervantes providing one of the paradigmatic examples of the novel as we know it, and Menard, hypothetical in any case, giving an example of a radical contemporary innovation built upon entirely different premises.)

    And once the art is made and is part of the multiverse of overlapping taxonomies? One of those categories can come swooping in from any point, and presto! Instant inclusion!

    The nice thing about this is that it's possible to be interstitial in more ways than one, and that it's possible to, zen–light–bulbily, be both stitial and inter–stitial at the same time. If our position between categories is a function of the categories we use, then we can experience that most beautiful of superimpositional effects: the moire pattern. Put two window screens atop one another and watch rippling waves emerge when the grids interact. This is the greatest delight of an interstitial perspective, and it's what keeps me going in my own creative work.

    V. Interstitiality and the Deep–Structural Soul

    I started out with a normal rock and roll childhood, playing air guitar next to the stereo and trying to decipher the lyrics on the records I'd bought. But somewhere, somewhen, I fell out of fascination with rock, and turned my ears outward. Over the three decades since I graduated from high school, I've been a professional jazz bassist and bandleader, an avid (and unpaid) student and performer of West African drumming music, a composer of string quartets, brass ensembles, big–band charts, and many different kinds of chamber music, an instrument–builder, an ethnomusicologist, an acoustical theorist, a recreational guitarist and folksinger, a musical epistemologist, and, most crucially to my artistic life and livelihood, a professional teacher and performer of Indian classical singing.


    In every one of these fields I am somehow anomalous: to my jazz colleagues I am an odd duck because of my background in Indian music (and because I listen to country music for pleasure); and to my colleagues in Hindustani music I'm an eccentric for a lot of different reasons (starting with the simple and unavoidable fact that I'm not ethnically Indian, and moving outward from there). Years ago, the father of a friend listened to me babbling enthusiastically about all the different kinds of music I liked, and said, not unkindly, "you know, Warren, you'll have to choose sometime."

    I did choose. I chose to change my perspective on music so that regardless of which hat I was wearing, I was always, at some level, doing the same thing. Hindustani singing is behaviorally different from African drumming, to be sure — but over the years I've found a place to stand which lets me know them both as "musicking" (to use Christopher Small's apt verb) and to apply the lessons learned in one to the understanding of another.

    Professional linguists (the kind of people who learn Serbo–Croatian over their spring vacations) know that after a  certain critical number of languages is learned, core structures become evident, making subsequent tongues easier and easier to acquire. New languages can be related by analogy to others; common patterns and transformations are easily recognized, and an underlying unity is ever more evident. I think it was Joseph Conrad who said that "to learn another language is to acquire another soul." From this perspective, all those carefully acquired "linguistic souls" retain their individuality, but are also felt as variegated manifestations of something larger; to grasp the deep structure of languages as a pan–cultural human behavior, then, is to have a deep–structure soul; a meta–soul.


    Of course, I can't speak for the linguists I'm speaking about; I'm not one of them. I am only barely bi–soular, for my Hindi is atrocious, but I do believe Conrad's dictum applies to my field as well: to learn another music is to acquire another soul, and to understand the deep structure of music as a pan–cultural human behavior is to learn something rich and powerful about one's soul and one's self.

    The phenomena of interstitiality are the phenomena of multiple and overlapping viewpoints, the phenomena of deep structure, the phenomena of one's many souls interacting and feeding one another — questioning, understanding and expressing. True, I'm an oddball to my colleagues and friends in any one of my fields of interest, but this polyphony of perspective lets me transcend any single default taxonomy. If I may versify briefly in the manner of Edwin Markham:

    They call me eccentric, they view me with doubt,
    From inside their circles, my music is "out."
    But meta–taxonomy gives me the room
    The circles I draw don't exclude — they subsume.

    Warren Senders
    Medford, Massachusetts
    October 7, 2003

    VI. A List of Names

    This list cannot be in any way comprehensive, for a good many reasons. In fact the number of reasons this list will never be complete is as large as the number of people whose music could be listed. But these names represent a single pass through the record collection in my head; I wasn't trying very hard for variety, but just picking the ones that came to the surface. I'll add more, and so will you.

    Try googling on any of these and see what you come up with:

    Mentioned in this article:

    Harry Partch
    Robert Rutman
    Willy Schwarz
    John Zorn
    Yulduz Usmanova
    Jelly Roll Morton
    Kumar Gandharva
    Fela Kuti
    Victor Jara
    Ravi Shankar

    Not mentioned in this article, but could have been:

    Okay Temiz
    Dorothy Carter
    Naftule's Dream
    Lou Harrison
    Conlon Nancarrow
    Glen Velez
    Layne Redmond
    David Amram
    Don Cherry
    Fred Ho
    The Really Eclectic String Quartet
    John Cage

    finish line
    finish line