Music and Its Functions and Roles

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Music and its Functions and Roles

Music has always been an integral part of human civilization. It is what binds individuals to their culture, people to their country. From the majestic stories of India to the concert halls of Vienna to the radio station playing mariachi music here in LA, music pervades our lives. Since our beginnings, music has accompanied rituals and ceremonies, and as time passed, began to fill other roles in religion, society, education, and entertainment. Within these different categories, music served to educate, unite, provide accompaniment to activities, and also function as a means of courtship. Like all things, however, philosophers found inherent dangers and benefits of music. Music served various purposes throughout the history of mankind. Its development and the attitudes surrounding it have changed as time elapsed. Plato felt that it was beneath the elite to listen to music for pure enjoyment, stating that only "commonplace people" hired the services of women to dance and sing for their enjoyment. The elite should believe that music to be used for higher purposes, such as celebrating religion, education and ritual. Conversely, Aristotle believed that music could be used for the purposes of entertainment and relaxation, as long as it was not excessive nor distracting. Along with the emergence of the Renaissance came the movement of Humanism. Humanism stated that the cultivated and sophisticated aristocrat should be able to write poetry and compose music as easily as lead a brave army into battle. Music for them was encouraged as a pastime, and having musical ability during the late sixteenth century was critical to being popular in polite society because music took a new social function. A conversation between the Count and Lord Gaspar in Castiglione's book revealed an appreciation for the qualities of music during the time of the Renaissance. Prior to the renaissance, music was an art enjoyed only by the elite. However, two...
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