Chapter 3: Music as culture

Chapter 3: Music as culture:
Music Culture and Instrumental
Toward a Definition of Culture:
Culture foundations of Music
In Mesopotamia archeologist have
uncovered rattles, flutes, and harplike instruments dating to almost
2000 b.c.
Considered the arts an important in
their lives
Exploring Music and Culture:
There are many cultures throughout
the world with unwritten Musical
traditions we know what the music
sounds like due to two types of
Anthropologist: Scholars who study
the physical and cultural
characteristics and social customs of
a group of people
Ethnomusicologist: Scholars who
study the music of different cultural
» They study both unwritten
and written music traditions
and are interested in how
music and culture influence
one another
Culture is a word with multiple meanings
Culture is the customs, beliefs, language ,
arts, and institutions of a group of people
that are learned and transmitted within the
Music culture: is the performance practices,
means, traditions, used and beliefs about
music of a group of people, either from a
specific time or place.
Elements of Music:
Regardless of its culture origin, almost all
music shares several common elements these
Melody: a logical succession of musical
Rhythm: The way the beats or pulses are
organized and subdivided
Timber: The distinct tone quality of an
instrument or voice, which is clearly
identifiable by the ear. Some people refer
to timber as “Tone Color”
Pitch: the highness or lowness of sound
determined by its frequency of vibration
Identifying Instrumental Timbers:
People’s perception is sharpened when an
individual can identify the differences
among the sounds we hear.
• Each culture fashions its
instruments using the natural
materials of the region
Instruments are isolated five
fundamental categories, based on
how the sound is produced:
– Aerophones: instruments that
produce sound by a vibrating
column of air.
– Membranphones: Instruments
that produce sound by striking
or rubbing a skin or membrane
stretched across a resonating
air chamber.
– Chordophones: are
instruments that produce
sound by striking or rubbing a
skin membrane plucking a taut
– Electrophone: instruments that
generate sound from electricity
– Idiopones: simple solid
instruments that produce
sound by being struck, scraped,
or shaken
Music can be categorized in several ways:
– Such resources include: fiber,
metal, reed, wood, gut, animal
skin, and even stone.
Musical Catagories
One of the most common ways to classify
music is to use three broad categories:
Genre : is a particular type of music with a
distinctive form or sound
Musical style: A form of expression within a
musical genre
Traditional Music, Popular music, and
Classical Music
Traditional Music: Sometimes referred to as
Folk Music is informal music that develops
within and is strongly associated with a
cultural group or region
Popular Music: Is music intended for a wide
audience, often featuring prominent melodies
Is categorized by its natural quality
Almost all countries and societies have
developed traditional music
Popular music genres and styles often have
roots in traditional and even classical music
Popular music is your music
Classical Music: it is a style of “art” music that
stands apart form traditional and Popular
Classical musicians have formal training;
performances tend to be more refined and less
Classical music traditions were originally
associated with the more educated members of
Traditional Music Cultures:
– Traditional musical styles and genres are often associated with
specific cultures or geographic areas.
• Examples of traditional music cultures in America are:
blues and Jazz
• Blues: is a genre of African American music that often
expresses frustration, sadness or longing
– The vocal quality is most often straight
forward, folk like singing that dips and slides.
– The texts and style of the blues originated in
spirituals and work songs of enslaved African
• Jazz is a musical form distinguished by its reliance on
improvisation and its rhythmic urgency.
– Originated in New Orleans
– Characteristics: polyrhythmic, juxtaposing two
or more different rhythms
Popular Musical cultures:
– Not only is one’s culture reflected in the popular music, but
often popular music can be so unique that it creates its own
• Motown: is a nickname for Detroit Michigan. Short for
motor city
• Motown was established by Berry Gordy Jr. in 1960
• Motown of the 1960’s established a “sound” and style
of dress and Performance that remains easily
• Also propel African American artist into the popular
music mainstream.
– Cover refers to one musician’s playing or recording of a song
made famous by another artist.
Classical Music Cultures:
– Adjectives that describe Classical music:
• Formal, complex, and sophisticated
– Classical music is commonly associated with a specific time,
known as the Classical period, composers such as Franz Joseph
Haydn and Wolfgang Mozart wrote some of their greatest
– The Classical Period:
• Composers depended upon a system of patronage for
their livelihood.
– Often kings, members of nobility, wealth
church leaders.
– Worked as contract
– The Emerging Middle Class:
• With the middle class making
more money they wanted
what the elite had.
– These encompassed:
music, theatre, and
– Wrote music for armature
– Used familiar folk and
popular tunes as themes
for their classical
– Two important musicians
from the classical period
are: Mozart and Haydn
• Chamber music: is music
written during the classical
period for small ensembles
– Music played in small
rooms; many concerts took
place in private homes for
social gatherings and at