Summer Studies: Ethnomusicology
June 19, 2012
We study our culture through a myriad of different media: literature, sociology, and politics. However, one of the most interesting ways to learn about a culture is through a type of study referred to as ethnomusicology. This discipline is the study of culture through music. Already, when we think about generations and locations, we think of different styles of music here in the United States. For instance, we often relate blues and jazz to the states at the south end of the Mississippi River. The baby boomers bring rock and roll to mind.
However, ethnomusicology is not by any means just limited to examining our culture. It looks across seas, both comparing music characteristics within the same culture over time and contrasting the characteristics amongst different cultures. For instance, those pitches that we identify as notes are different across cultures. Scales are formed out of different notes in different cultures. There are instruments that are unique to each culture, such as zamponas. Even the expectations for music vary from culture to culture. For instance, some things that we qualify as music aren’t thought of as music by different people around the world. Sometimes, music is ritualistic. Sometimes, music is for spontaneous entertainment, where other times it is expected. Some cultures even use music to relay stories and history. It’s amazing what things you can find out about a culture by looking at how they approach music.
Oak Grove Branch