Music in Culture and Society Essay

2044 Words 9 Pages
Every musical system around the world is a complex cultural phenomenon. The culture underlie a series of concepts which impart the musical system into the other basic cultural activities of the society. It is then defined and conceptualized by the society at large and then ingrained in the cultural phenomena. Thus, in order to fully understand a specific music of a particular culture, we must examine it in its cultural context along its musicological context.
There could not exist any real understanding of a specific music culture without firstly examining its concept and meaning of music. It is clearly agreed that every human society has music but the definition differs widely in many cultures. Bruno Nettl presents three ways in finding
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This clearly shows that in this particular American society, a particular sound could not be regarded as musical if it doesn’t contain these distinct characteristics. In other words, there is no universal concept of music. Some societies might regard a particular sound as musical and others as musical. Further, the definition of music not only differs amongst different cultures, but even within one particular culture. Some individuals might regard a particular sound as musical, and others might regard it as non musical.
Alan. P. Merriam also seems to agree with the argument brought up by Bruno Nettl by having said that the key to a basic understanding of a society’s music is the distinction between music and non music . He argues that among the Congo Basongye, it is agreed that there must be certain characteristics in music in order to be constituted as music by the Basongye. He presents a three part theory of non music and music as held by the Basongye, which are the involvement of human beings, the organization of sound, and the continuity of time. If certain sounds do not underlie these characteristics, the Basongye doesn’t consider that particular sound as music, but instead, they regard it as non music.
Furthermore, the term or terms given to music could also reflect a particular society’s conception of music. For example, in India, sangita referres both to music as well as dance. Like, the Indian language,

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