I love listening to and reading stories. Storytelling is as old as language. There is a rich history behind storytelling. To tell a story is as natural as breathing for people. Some are better than others, but we all tell them in one form or another.
Throughout history, narratives were used to entertain, teach, and build a community identity. Storytellers were often revered in their community because they were the source of current news, holder of traditions, the historians, teachers, the holder of religious beliefs, and the entertainers.
Early storytelling combined stories, poetry, music, and dance. Communities were strengthened and maintained through stories that connected the present, the past and the future.
We’re used to books, TV, and other electronic forms for history, religion, news, and entertainment choices. It’s hard to imagine a world without them. At the end of the workday we might eat our evening meal while telling our family about our day and then sit and watch a show on TV, listen to music, or read a book.
I imagine it wasn't so different thousands of years ago. Eating either in a community or family setting talking about the day. It was a time to express their worries, fears, beliefs, and explain the world they faced and usually through narratives. Just as today kids want to hear stories of what the world was like when their parents were young, so it was then. People wanted the tales of the traditions, battles, heroism, and the funny things that made the audience giggle or laugh. These tales draw people together in strength and unity.
Songs are a form of storytelling and were used to make work go by faster. The use of work songs is a very old practice. Some of the songs were songs of praise for the gods to make the crops grow, the hunt successful, to bring in the fish to the nets. Others were rhythmic chants to keep minds focused in unity of purpose and hands steady in planting or harvesting, perhaps cutting or making materials for building. Tough and repetitive jobs are easier with such chants. We still see vestiges of this practice in various cultures. Even the U.S. military use chants to perform marches and other repetitive tasks. At any given time, if you visit a military training installation, you’ll hear chants echoing around you. If you listen carefully you can tell the difference between the battalions by sound of their chants. It’s not hard to see how different people of old had their own style and rhythm.
Telling stories is natural for us. We use narratives when relaying something to friends or family in letters or notes, or telling our kids tales from our wild childhood. Hunters and fishermen tell some great tales. There are those who excel at telling stories. They have down the embellishments, tone, and method of telling a good story. Those few, just as with the ancients, are the entertainers. The bards of today.
There is a rich history of storytellers in various cultures and some still exist today.
But that’s a tale for another time.