Ethnomusicology: The Meaning Of Music By J. Small

1505 Words 7 Pages
At the beginning of the article, Small described various musical activities in our daily life such as listening concert in a symphonic hall, shopping activities with background music in supermarket, and attending popular star’s live concert. Through listing different music activities examples, Small stated that music is meaningful and it exists in almost everywhere in our daily activities.
Since music has been play an important part in human life, Small brought out the question what is music and why it is so important. Different from astronomy or other subjects that people can give a satisfied explanation, Small believed that music is activities require people’s action. The meaning of music is abstract, figment and hard to describe. Small
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He also stated that the attempting to transform abstraction into ideal and actions in reification could be dangerous. Small (2010) argued that “if there is no such a thing as music”, the meaning of music would not be exist based upon this theory. He stated that Western music scholars often dismiss the meaning of the music and attempt to focus on “the meaning of the work of music”. Small argued that Western classical music has been claimed as unique in the world’s musical culture due to its intellectual and spiritual achievement, however, it only exist as a small portion in world music appreciation and it is the activities in academic environment. On the other hand, ethnomusicology deals with more general music genres such as popular music. Western classical music often regard as a training for all other music activities based on its social and spiritual meaning, however, Small believes that other genres which are defined under ethno music are sufficiently enough to give social and spiritual support. According to Dalhaus(1983) “the subject matter of music is made up, primarily, of significant works of music that have outlived the …show more content…
It is easy to access the meaning of music when people are engaging in various music activities. I also agree with his opinion on Western classical music is only a small portion in the world music and all the genres are sufficiently enough to give meaning to music. However, I disagree with Small that music is only existed in music activities. I believe the subject matter of music is made of both significant works and human’s musicking. When composer create a music work whether it is simple or complex, he/she gives a meaning to the work. Therefore, the meaning of the work exists and remains unchanged in this circumstance. However, when people perform the piece, it is quite possible that their own feelings and ideals of how to interpret the work and put their thoughts into music making to form a unique meaning of the work. This meaning is changeable and based on each individual case. People who have the meaning of playing the work might think differently next time when they play. I think we cannot dismiss both change and unchangeable of the meanings in all musical activities and only state that the meaning of music is only existed one or another. For instance, Beethoven’s had a specific meaning for his symphony no.9. However, since it was a such tremendous work, people often to play it in various situation such as background music on TV show, in formal concert,

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