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Unformatted text preview: 9 CHAPTER 2 MUSIC FROM THE NON-WESTERN WORLD GENERAL BACKGROUND TO NON-WESTERN MUSIC The Western world has a vast musical heritage that has evolved over many centuries; however, some Asian, Polynesian, African and Near-Eastern musical traditions have thrived for THOUSANDS of years. While Japan, China, India and Indonesia have long-standing art-music traditions (in which music is performed by a select few well-trained artists), the majority of non-Western societies do not have art music ("formal concert") traditions instead, they perceive music-making as a functional part of everyday life in which the society as a whole participates. Much of this music is improvised and survives solely through oral transmission; thus, it cannot be described in standard Western musical terms, or written down using Western notational symbols. Such music can only be studied through a painstaking combination of musicological and anthropological means. Important Musical Considerations in non-Western Music Most types of Non-Western music are founded on concepts quite different from those of the Western tradition: Rhythm Non-Western music (especially African) can make greater and more creative use of rhythm than Western idioms. Dynamics Non-Western music rarely uses dynamics as an independent concept. Changes in loudness/quietness occur by increasing/decreasing the number of performers. Melody Non-Western music often uses microtonal melodic intervals that are smaller or larger than those of the traditional Western scales Harmony In general, harmony is not as important in non-Western idioms as it is in the West. Non- Western music may have no harmony at all, or it may base its harmonies on completely different scale systems than Western music. Tone color Though non-Western music is primarily vocal in nature, some cultures have also developed unique independent families of instruments. Colorful percussion sounds, and unique string and wind instruments are most commonly employed. Texture Since harmony is not an important consideration, non-Western music is often either monophonic (a single note or melody sounding alone) or heterophonic (two slightly different versions of the same melody being performed at the same time). Form Non-Western music is more freely-structured than Western music, and most types are heavily reliant on improvisation (on-the-spot creativity). Such music is transmitted orally; thus, it is rarelyif everperformed the same way twice. CHAPTER 2: Non-Western Music 10 SELECTED EXAMPLES OF NON-WESTERN MUSIC MUSIC OF THE NORTH-AMERICAN INDIAN The diverse array of American Indian culturesfrom the Arctic Eskimos, to the Sioux of the Dakotas and the Apaches of the Southwesthave created instrumental and vocal music that is an integral part of daily tribal lifemost often associated with religious rituals, dancing or courting . Many American Indian songs are sung to vocables (syllables of chanted prayers that often sound like as "hey-...
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- Spring '08