Music In World Culture

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, Musical instrument, Culture Pages: 6 (1883 words) Published: August 24, 2014

Music In World Culture

Anthropology 221

Mr. James Beil



I will examine the relationship between music and culture and discuss the role music plays in people’s daily lives. I will discuss unique handcrafted instruments used by different cultures to express traditions through music and how rhythm, melody & harmony affect how music sounds. My research will show how music plays an important part of cultural preservation and revitalization of people around the world, and although every culture has their own traditions and beliefs they all use music in their celebrations and spiritual ceremonies.

Mr. James Beil

Music in World Culture
Music is a very important characteristic of all cultures. Evidence of humans making music reaches far back in time. Although the Modern American culture commonly views music as a form of entertainment, there are still many cultures who believe music is much more than that. Music is a form of verbal art, poetry and stories combined with melody and rhythm that all cultures use to display inspiration, religion, political views or emotions. Most cultures have sacred music, for religious functions, and worldly music, for nonreligious activities. I will say that before taking this class I had never heard the work “Ethnomusicology”, now I know that Ethnomusicology is the study of the music of the world. I now realize there are so many different cultures of the world and they all have their own unique traditions. What stood out for me the most is that Music plays a major part in every culture around the world. (Wikipedia) Many cultures usually handcrafted their instruments using what was available to them in their distinct cultural setting, using such things like pebbles, animal hide, teeth, and bones; these materials produced a specific sound. I have chosen 3 different cultures to compare and research the functions of music within their specific society. The Native American Culture, The African Culture and The Chinese Culture. I chose these specific cultures because they are very traditional and very spiritual.

Music in the Native American Indian culture
Traditionally Native Americans use music for ceremonial purposes, recreation, expression, and healing. Many different instruments are used to make Native American music, including drums, flutes and other striking instruments. But perhaps the most important part of their music is their voice. Vocals are the backbone of the music made in Native American cultures. The Native American culture is very passionate, and use music to summon spirits, ask for rain, and healing the sick. The men and women of the tribe sing separate songs, and have their own dances. Men usually dance around in a circle, while the women dance in place. Native American people are very religious and their music is some of the most complex, the tensing and releasing of the vocals combined with varying drum beats makes it a very involved form of art.

Traditional Native American Instruments
Various drums are used based on tribe and religion. Skin drums also known as powwow drums are built using a wooden frame or a hallow log of wood with animal skin stretched over the opening and fastened using tendon strings, these are two-sided drums played in central areas and northern plains. The frame drum is a small single-sided or two-sided drum made of thin frames or shells with animal hides of deer and cow stretched across a single or double side. The water drum was made of different materials, iron kettles being hung on them; a moist tanned animal skin is stretched across a small wooden vessel containing water. The square drum played by Native Americans of the pacific coast made from wooden boxes or frames. The Native American flutes are the only flutes in the world that have just two chambers with a wall dividing the top chamber and the bottom...

Cited: “African People and Culture-Dance, Music and Musical Instruments.” African People
and Culture-Dance, Music and Musical Instruments. N.p., n.d Web. 19 July 2013.
“Destiny, the Culture of China.” ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation, n.d. Web. 19 July 2013.
“Music History.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, 17 July 2013. Web. 19 July 2013.
“Native American Music.” Native American Music and Culture. N.p., n.d Web. 19 July 2013.
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