Oral traditions and documentation

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The artistic canons of cultures that had access centuries ago to documentation through the written word, musical notation or other symbols are rich in details that can inform us of the attitudes of folks who lived in those times.

On the surface, it might seem as if the other heritages that are more dependent on orally based traditions might have lost many of those details. In actual fact, there are pros and cons to be considered on both sides.

Knowing about cultural practices from times gone by is useful for practitioners to develop ideas and approaches towards creating work for the present. Some artists are drawn to lives of immersing themselves mainly in the output of our forbears.

On the other hand, the orally based traditions tend to retain the most significant elements of folklore, etc. Then practitioners find ways to revamp those ideas, to be shared with others in contemporary times.

The technological advancements of the 20th and 21st Centuries have created an almost level playing field. A storyteller doesn’t have to write a novel or play that is published, for that work to be remembered by future generations. We can all make videos and films now. The impact of these developments on global arts and cultures is still a work in progress.

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