3. THE MUSICAL STYLE OF THE NENETS AS PART OF THE
     MUSICAL STYLE OF THE ARCTIC

Regarding its fundamental structural features, the musical culture of the Nenets belongs to the cultural area of the Arctic and Subarctic hunters, fishers and the historically later period of reindeer pastoralists. This cultural area geographically encompasses the whole circumpolar zone from the Sami of Northern Scandinavia through native Siberia to the native people of Arctic/Subarctic Northern America and Greenland.

In terms of cultural ecology, in this zone there are also many fundamental similarities in the subsistence patterns, social organization and relation to the natural and supernatural world, and therefore it may be not surprising to find also some basic elements in common in their musical cultures. On the other hand, particularly at the level of these fundamental features, there are similarities also to music cultures outside the native Circumpolar regions, as in the rest of the native American continent, Southern Asia and Australia.

It must be said however that the monumental global statistical style analysis of vocal music, the so called "Cantometrics"-workgroup of Alan Lomax found these kinds of style fundamentals. Lomax defined Siberia as a style area of its own, with a direct counterpart only at the native Tierra del Fuego, Southern America. The native American singing styles he connected to a large "Circumpacific" area (including native Australia), while he interpreted Africa as a large style area of its own, having the "Protomelanesian" (i.e. native Southern Asian) area as its closest counterpart. (see Lomax 1976, 32-33) The purpose of the comparative statistical analysis of the Cantometricians was to point to the statistical correlations between different singing styles, especially with the additional purpose of utilizing the various test types also pedagogically.

It is clear, that this kind of comparison works only at the most fundamental levels, and it may result in truisms difficult to apply further in ethnomusicological research. It must be acknowledged, however, that the Cantometrics experiment is at its most inspiring as pedagogical vehicle.

However, even a little more investigation of a musical style area quickly discloses the infinite variation of the details in a music culture. In this context it is not very useful or precise to state that the Nenets songs belong to the Siberian vocal style area... On the other hand, the material that Lomax had access to was limited only to the historical recording collection of the Ethnographic Institute of the Science Academy of Russia, which was often in lamentably poor physical condition, and represented only a minimal and quite randomly collected part of the native Siberian music cultures.