Many-to-Many: Eskimos and Music Communication

Within Eskimos, E.S. Carpenter explains a unique feature of the Aivilik people. “In the oral tradition,” he writes, “the myth-teller speaks many-to-many, not as person-to-person. Speech and song are addressed to all…As poet, myth-teller, carver, the Eskimo conveys anonymous tradition to all…”

We usually think of music as person-to-person or at least person-to-many. Music today, however, has also taken up many-to-many.

On a large scale, Spotify and Youtube have a vast array of music for a vast array of people. These entities address everyone with everything. On a micro level, playlists and dance mixes address many with a many that is arranged in an effective manner. And all of this is built upon the many-to-many system that is the Internet.

What is left to actually take place is the anonymous tradition part of the Aivilik people. Even if there is a many, each part is recognized as an individual entity, be it a band or artist. That is how people look up music on Spotify and how they know what is on a mixtape.

Is this a holdover from the person-to-person/many system of communication? Will there ever be a time when there will be an anonymous tradition? Are there even glimpses of it today?


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