Glenn Buhr has compiled a collection of essays about music and culture that he has given as lectures, over a number of years, and named the book Our Native Song. The book’s primary thesis is that all music, even European classical music, is folk music.
The essays explore the idea that music is social, and that it emerges organically in every society through social rituals, such as concerts, festivals, church, and simple singing. Music is a language, and like verbal language, it is an essential quality of every culture.
The essays look at many of the world’s musical cultures –European classical, American jazz, pop, Jamaican reggae, East Indian classical, contemporary and sound art – from this perspective. The book looks at countries with successful musical legacies and compares them to countries, like Canada, who are only just emerging with a musical voice of their own.
Some of the writing is analytical, and some is anecdotal. It draws on the author’s experiences as a composer and conductor of symphonies and ballets, and his various tours of jazz and folk festivals as an improvisational pianist, guitarist and songwriter. Some essays are more philosophical, exploring the impact of music on our lives and the reason that music is elemental to every culture.