In this Cultural Perspective, you are introduced to ways in which Western music has been influenced by exposure to other cultures. You also discover the conditions under which these cross-cultural contacts have occurred, from voyages of exploration to war.
From our perspective within an essentially European society, we often don’t think of the influence of other cultures. And yet many of the medieval world’s accomplishments in the fields of mathematics, medicine, philosophy, and especially in music resulted from these contacts. The recognition of this fact is sometimes met with resistance owing to justifiable feelings of pride in our own culture. But we need to ask ourselves some questions:
- Do we always recognize the contributions of other societies?
- Does learning about such influences take away from the luster of our own society?
- Given our political and economic strength, we often see those areas that contributed most as, at best, “developing” regions. Does that make us value their contributions less?
- Listen to popular music from other societies. What Western influences do you hear? What do you think were the conditions that brought about that influence?
- Find a musical dictionary and look up various instruments. How many of our modern instruments originated in other cultures?
- Ancient Greek Music
A brief introduction to the music of ancient Greece, with pictures and sound files.
A brief discussion of two ancient Greek songs concerning women’s laments with recommended recordings.
Task. Write your thoughts about the issue and what you have discovered.