I have been interested in the distribution of vocal polyphony since my student years at Tbilisi State Conservatory (1973-1978). By that time there was only one review of existing polyphonic regions, compiled by German scholar Marius Schneider (Schneider, History of Polyphony, vol. 1 and 2, 1934, 1935, Second edition of Schneider book with the added third part which came out in 1969).
I first published a review of all regions which I knew that had vocal polyphony in my 1989 Russian language book “Georgian Traditional Polyphony in an International Context of Polyphonic Cultures (on the Origins of Polyphony)”, Tbilisi State University Press.
A much more comprehensive review of existing polyphonic traditions came out in my 2006 book “Who Asked the first Question? Origins of Human Choral Singing, Intelligence, Language and Speech” (Logos), and in the second edition of the same book under the title "Choral Singing in Human culture and evolution" (Lambert Academic Publishers, 2015).
- Here is the review of existing vocal polyphonic traditions from my 2006 book “Who Asked the first Question: Origins of Human Choral Singing, Intelligence, Language and Speech.” This review contains musical notation.
- Here is a much shorter review of existing polyphonic regions of the world, without musical notation from the book “Why do People Sing?”.
- Here are maps and audio examples of vocal polyphony from various regions of the world.
Who Asked the First Question
Why do people sing?