The Study of Musical Scales in Central Africa: The Use of Interactive Experimental Methods

  • Fabrice Marandola
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2771)


In the oral traditional cultures of Central Africa, the rules which underline the musical system are rarely verbalised: abstract concepts like “scale”, “degree” or “interval”, are not just non-verbalised, they are practically unverbalisable. Thus the study of musical scales requires the use of interactive experimental methods. For two years, a research-team leaded by Simha Arom (in collaboration with acousticians of Ircam-Paris) studies the untempered scales used by the Bedzan Pygmies in their contrapuntal songs and the Ouldeme in their hocket instrumental polyphony. The principle of the methods that we have developed is to make the musicians actors in the experiment, able to react immediately to the proposals of the investigators and to provide modifications of them, directly or indirectly.


Musician Actor Musical Scale Acoustique Transversal Vocal Sound Melodic Contour 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabrice Marandola
    • 1
  1. 1.LMS (UMR 8099 CNRS-Paris V, France)VillejuifFrance

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