What is the relationship between music and culture?

If we look at all the known societies and cultures today and in the past, we see that music has always played an important role in human society. Music in our lives does much more than make us feel good or happy. Music adds to the culture and is an important form and avenue for personal and group expression within it. It is also a reflection of all the historical, political, economic, and aesthetic values of the culture.


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The broad category of cultural music includes isolated forms of ethnic music from diverse geographical regions, cultures and societies. Music grows out of its own cultural context. People in each culture create music from what they have experienced, learned and heard. Even when they create something entirely new, it is still based on what existed in their cultural experiences.

In order to explore the role that music plays in human life we must do more than only look at it in our own cultural context. Listening to cultural music from around the globe places music in a context that facilitates the understanding of the indigenous people, their customs and traditions.

Globalization has facilitated the expansion of cultural music's audiences and scope. Over the 20th century, the invention of sound recording, low-cost international air travel and common access to global communication among artists and the general public has given rise to a related phenomenon called "crossover" music. Musicians from diverse cultures and locations can now readily access recorded music from around the world, see and hear visiting musicians from other cultures and visit other countries to play their own music—creating a melting pot of stylistic influences.

Not only is there much that we can learn by listening to the music of other cultures, this cross-cultural practice will also make us more appreciative of the music we listen to in our own society.


World Cultures Music: Vol 1

World Cultures Music: Vol 2