In 1973 John Blacking’s How Musical Is Man? was published by University of Washington Press. Blacking, an English anthropologist and ethnomusicologist, had been invited to the University of Washington as a Jessie and John Danz Lecturer in 1971, and his series of talks became the basis for this published work. How Musical Is Man? explores the role of music in society and culture and, conversely, the role of culture and society in music. Blacking draws on his field research with the Venda people of the Northern Transvaal, South Africa as well as his own musical background to demonstrate the relationships between patterns of sound and patterns of human organization inherent to all societies.
In response to requests for recordings of the musical examples in How Musical Is Man?, Blacking provided the University of Washington Ethnomusicology Archives with an audio tape of samples of his own recordings of Venda music to make available for distribution. This music, along with Blacking’s accompanying notes, are available online as streamed audio here.