Music Feelings And Arts Essay Research Paper

Music, Feelings And Arts Essay, Research Paper Music is sound arranged into pleasing or interesting patterns. It forms an important part of many cultural and social activities. People use music to express feelings and ideas. Music also serves to entertain and relax.

Music, Feelings And Arts Essay, Research Paper

Music is sound arranged into pleasing or interesting patterns. It forms an important part of many cultural and social activities. People use music to express feelings and ideas. Music also serves to entertain and relax.

Like drama and dance, music is a performing art. It differs from such arts as painting and poetry, in which artists create works and then display or publish them. Musical composers need musicians to interpret and perform their works, just as playwrights need actors to perform their plays. Thus, musical performances are partnerships between composers and performers.

Music also plays a major role in other arts. Opera combines singing and orchestral music with drama. Ballet and other forms of dancing need music to help the dancers with their steps and evoke an atmosphere. Film and TV dramas use music to help set the mood and emphasize the action. Also, composers have set many poems to music.

Music is one of the oldest arts. People probably started to sing as soon as language developed. Hunting tools struck together may have been the first musical instruments. By about 10,000 B.C., people had discovered how to make flutes out of hollow bones. Many ancient peoples, including the Egyptians, Chinese, and Babylonians, and the peoples of India, used music in court and religious ceremonies. The first written music dates from about 2500 B.C.

Today, music takes many forms around the world. The music of people in Europe and the Americas is known as Western music. There are two chief kinds of Western music, classical and popular. Classical music includes symphonies, operas, and ballets. Popular music includes country music, folk music, jazz, and rock music. The cultures of Africa and Asia have developed their own types of classical and popular music. For information on Indian music, see the World Book article INDIA, DANCE AND MUSIC OF.

This article deals with the importance of music, musical instruments, the elements of music, and the system used for writing down music. It also includes information on the various types of Western and non-Western music. For information about the history of Western music, see the World Book articles CLASSICAL MUSIC and POPULAR MUSIC.

The importance of music

Music plays an important part in all cultures. People use music (1) in ceremonies, (2) in work, and (3) in personal and social activities.

In ceremonies. Nearly all peoples use music in their religious services. One kind of religious music seeks to create a state of mystery and awe. For example, some cultures have special musical instruments played only by priests on important occasions, such as harvest ceremonies and the burials of chiefs. Similarly, much Western church music attempts to create a feeling of distance from the daily world. Other religious music, such as hymn-singing, helps produce a sense of participation among worshippers.

Many nonreligious ceremonies and spectacles also use music. They include sports events, graduation ceremonies, circuses, parades, and the crowning of kings and queens.

In work. Before machines became important, people had to do much difficult or boring work by hand. For example, labourers sang songs to help make their work seem easier. Crews aboard sailing ships sang shanties, songs with a strong, regular beat. The sailors pulled or lifted heavy loads in time to the beat. Today, the wide use of machines has made the singing of work songs rare in industrialized societies. However, many offices and factories provide background music for their workers.

In personal and social activities. Many people perform music for their own satisfaction. Singing in a choir or playing a musical instrument in a band can be very enjoyable. Music provides people with a way to express their feelings. A group of happy campers may sing cheerful songs as they sit around a campfire. A sad person may play a mournful tune on a guitar.

Many famous rulers have used music to help them relax. According to the Bible, David played the harp to help King Saul take his mind off the problems of ruling Israel. Kings Richard I and Henry VIII of England composed music. Other leaders have performed music. For example, the former British prime minister, Edward Heath is a spare-time organist and conductor. Former United States presidents Harry S. Truman and Richard M. Nixon played the piano.

People use music at a variety of social occasions. At parties and dinners, music is often played for dancing or simply for listening to. In some countries, it is customary for a young man to show that a young woman is special to him by serenading her or by sending musicians to play and sing for her.

Musical instruments

A musical sound, or note, is produced when air vibrates a certain number of times each second. These vibrations are called sound waves. Sound waves must be contained in some way so that the performer can control the pitch, loudness, duration, and quality of the note. Whatever contains the sound waves must also provide resonance–that is, it must amplify and prolong the sound so the note can be heard.

The vocal cords produce musical sounds in the human voice. These two small folds of tissue vibrate and create sound waves when air passes them from the lungs. The throat and the cavities in the head provide the resonance needed for singing.

Most musical instruments have a string, a reed (thin piece of wood or metal), or some other device that creates sound waves when set in motion. Musical instruments can be grouped in five major classes. These classes are (1) stringed instruments, (2) wind instruments, (3) percussion instruments, (4) keyboard instruments, and (5) electronic instruments.

Stringed instruments produce notes when the player makes one or more strings vibrate. There are two basic types of stringed instruments: (1) bowed stringed instruments and (2) plucked stringed instruments.

Bowed stringed instruments are played by drawing a bow (a wooden rod with horsehair stretched from end to end) back and forth across the strings. The friction (rubbing) of the bow on the strings produces vibrations that are amplified by the body of the instrument. Most bowed instruments have four strings. Each string is tuned to a different pitch. To produce other pitches, the musician shortens the strings by pressing down on them with the fingers. This is called stopping.

The main bowed instruments, in descending order of pitch and ascending order of size, are the violin, viola, violoncello or cello, and string bass. These instruments form the heart of a symphony orchestra. Violins in an orchestra are divided into first violins and second violins. The first violins play higher-pitched parts of musical compositions than the second violins.

Plucked stringed instruments are played by plucking the strings with the fingers or a pick or plectrum. The guitar is the most common plucked stringed instrument. It has 6 to 12 strings. The harp, another important plucked instrument, has up to 47 strings. Other plucked stringed instruments include the banjo, lute, lyre, mandolin, sitar, ukulele, and zither. The strings of the violin and other bowed instruments also may be plucked to produce special effects. This style of playing on a bowed instrument is called pizzicato.

Wind instruments are played by using breath to vibrate air in a tube. There are two chief types: (1) woodwind instruments and (2) brass instruments.

Woodwind instruments are grouped together because, before the invention of the saxophone, they were all made of wood. Today, many are made of metal or other materials. In such woodwinds as recorders, the player blows into a mouthpiece. In some other woodwinds, such as flutes and piccolos, the player blows across a hole in the side of the instrument. Still other woodwinds, called reed instruments, have one or two reeds attached to the mouthpiece. The reeds vibrate when the musician blows on them. The clarinet and saxophone are the chief single-reed instruments. Double-reed instruments include the bassoon, English horn or cor anglais, and oboe.

The player controls the pitch of a woodwind by placing the fingers on holes in the instrument or on keys that cover holes. In this way, the player lengthens or shortens the column of air that vibrates inside the instrument. The piccolo and flute have the highest pitches of the woodwinds. The bassoon and contrabassoon have the lowest pitches.

Brass instruments are played in a different way from that of woodwinds. The player presses the lips against the instrument’s mouthpiece so that they vibrate like reeds when the player blows. By either tensing or relaxing the lips, the player produces different pitches. With many brass instruments, the player can further control the pitch with valves that lengthen or shorten the tube in which the air column is made to vibrate.

The chief brass instruments in an orchestra are the French horn, trumpet, trombone, and tuba. The French horn and trumpet have high pitches, and the trombone and tuba have lower pitches. The trombone has a slide instead of valves. The performer pulls the slide in and out of the instrument to control the pitch. Other brass instruments, including the baritone horn and sousaphone, are used in bands.

Percussion instruments are sounded by shaking them or by hitting them with the hand, a stick, or a mallet. Drums are the most common percussion instruments. Most Western drums do not produce a range of pitches. But kettledrums, also called timpani, can be tuned to various pitches by adjusting the tension of the drumheads. Glockenspiels and xylophones have a series of metal or wooden bars that produce a range of pitches. Other percussion instruments include castanets, cymbals, gongs, marimbas, and tambourines.

Keyboard instruments have a series of keys connected by mechanical means to a device that produces notes. The musician presses the keys to make sounds. The best-known keyboard instruments are the piano, harpsichord, and pipe organ. The keys on a piano activate small hammers that strike strings. On a harpsichord, the keys control a mechanism that plucks strings. Pressing a key on a pipe organ opens a pipe in which a column of air vibrates. The player operates some pipes by pressing pedals with the feet.

Electronic instruments include those that generate sounds by electricity and those that electronically amplify sounds produced by an instrument. The most common electronic instrument is the electric guitar. It makes louder and more varied notes than an ordinary guitar. Electric guitars, electric pianos, and electronic organs are widely used in rock music. A complex electronic instrument called a synthesizer is used to create original sounds or to imitate the sounds of other musical instruments. Some synthesizers are operated by computer.

The elements of music

A composer uses five basic elements to create a piece of music. These elements are (1) notes, (2) rhythm, (3) melody, (4) harmony, and (5) tone colour.

Notes are musical sounds of definite pitch. Most music is based on a scale, a particular pattern of notes arranged according to rising or falling pitch. Western musicians name the notes of a scale by labelling them with the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. This cycle of seven letters is repeated as the scale is continued upward. The distance between a note and the next highest note having the same letter name (for example, from C to C) is called an octave. There are eight scale notes in an octave, including both the repeated notes. The note at the upper end of an octave has exactly twice as many vibrations per second as the note at the lower end.

The distance between one note and another is called an interval. The adjacent notes in a scale are separated from each other by one of two types of interval–a whole tone or a semitone (half a whole tone). In many countries, a whole tone is known as a whole step and a semitone is called a half step.

Most Western composers have based their musical works on diatonic scales. A diatonic scale has the eight notes of the octave arranged in a pattern that uses both whole tones and semitones. There are two chief types of diatonic scales, major scales and minor scales. The scales differ in the location of the semitones. A major scale has a semitone between the third and fourth notes and between the seventh and eighth notes. All the other intervals are whole tones. The natural minor scale follows a pattern of one whole tone, one semitone, two whole tones, one semitone, and two whole tones. Two other minor scales, the harmonic minor and the melodic minor, have different arrangements of whole tones and semitones. But all minor scales have a semitone between the second and third notes.

Sometimes composers need to raise or lower the pitch of a note in a scale by a semitone. A note raised in this way is called sharp. A lowered note is called flat.

The notes of a diatonic scale, which are also called degrees, vary in importance. The main note, called the tonic, is the first degree of the scale. The tonic serves as the tonal centre of the scale, and all other notes are related in some way to the tonic. The tonic also gives the scale its name. For example, C is the tonic in the C major and C minor scales.

Next to the tonic, the most important notes of a scale are the fifth degree, called the dominant, and the fourth degree, called the subdominant. The seventh degree is called the leading note because it leads to the tonic at the octave.

A chromatic scale consists entirely of semitones. It has 12 notes to an octave, rather than 8. You can hear the chromatic scale if you play all the white and black keys from one C to the next C on a piano. After 1850, composers increasingly used notes from the chromatic scale to make their music more colourful. During the 1920’s, the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg developed a type of music based on this scale. This music, called atonal music or 12-tone music, has no tonal centre.

Rhythm is the way the composer arranges notes in time. Every note has a certain duration as well as a definite pitch. Some notes may last a short time, and others a relatively long time. Rhythm helps give music its character. For example, a familiar piece of music sounds very different if performed with all its notes the same length. The piece of music sounds strange because it lacks the variety of the short and long notes that make up its normal rhythm.

Another important element of rhythm is accent. Most composers build their music on a pattern of regularly occurring accents. Certain types of music have a fixed pattern of accent. For example, a waltz follows a strong-weak-weak pattern, ONE two three ONE two three. A march has a strong-weak pattern, ONE two ONE two.

Some composers create different rhythms by accenting beats that are normally unaccented. This technique, known as syncopation, has been widely used in jazz.

Melody. The composer combines pitches and rhythms to create a melody, or tune. The American composer Aaron Copland said, “Melody is what the piece is about.” When we hear a piece of music, we most often remember its melody.

Some short pieces of music have only one melody. Longer pieces may consist of different melodies to give the music contrast and variety. A melody repeated throughout a composition is called a theme. Composers often use a part of a melody or theme to develop musical ideas. Such a part is called a motive. The first four notes of the German composer Ludwig van Beethoven’s fifth symphony form a motive. By repeating and varying these four notes, Beethoven developed a theme for the first part of this work.

Harmony. Most Western music is based on the idea of sounding notes together. The sounding together of two or more notes is called harmony.

Harmony involves the use of various intervals in a scale. Intervals are named according to the number of degrees they cover in a major scale. For example, an interval from A to C covers three degrees–A, B, and C–and is called a third. An interval spanning five degrees, such as A to E or C to G, is a fifth. Fourths, fifths, and eighths are called perfect intervals. Seconds, thirds, sixths, and sevenths can be either major intervals or minor intervals. Perfect intervals and major intervals can be augmented (raised a semitone). Perfect intervals and minor intervals can be diminished (lowered a semitone).

Composers use intervals to create chords, which are combinations of notes sounded at the same time. The composer may build a chord on any note. The most common type of chord is the triad, which consists of three notes, each a third apart. For example, a chord that consists of the notes C, E, and G is a major triad. A chord with the notes C, E flat, and G is a minor triad.

The tonic triad, or tonic chord, is the most important chord in a piece of music. It is built on the tonic note of the scale. The second most important chord is the dominant chord, and the third is the subdominant chord. The dominant chord is built on the fifth note of the scale, and the subdominant chord on the fourth. In the C major scale, the tonic chord is formed by C, E, and G; the dominant chord by G, B, and D; and the subdominant chord by F, A, and C. Any note in the diatonic scale can be harmonized with one of the chords–the tonic, dominant, or subdominant. Many simple songs are harmonized by using only these chords.

Most Western composers use a harmonic system based on the tonic and dominant notes of the scale. The composer fixes the tonic and thus a specific key (tonal centre) firmly in the listener’s mind. The composer may then modulate (shift) from one key to another by adding sharps or flats to the music. Generally, these sharps or flats prepare the dominant or tonic of the new key. Modulation adds variety and may emphasize a contrasting section of a work. In most cases, the composer eventually returns to the original key.

Another important element of harmony is the cadence. This is a succession of chords that end a musical work or one of its sections. Most pieces of classical music end with a perfect cadence, which consists of a dominant chord followed by a tonic chord. A plagal cadence consists of a subdominant chord followed by a tonic chord. The “Amen” ending of a hymn is an example of a plagal cadence.

Harmony has been a part of Western music for more than 1,000 years. However, Western composers’ ideas about harmony have changed considerably over the centuries, particularly their ideas about consonance and dissonance. Harmony that sounds smooth and pleasant is consonant. Harmony that sounds rough and tense is dissonant. Generally, the notes that belong to the major and minor triads are considered consonant intervals, and all other intervals are dissonant.

Composers use harmony chiefly for music that has a melody and accompaniment. Some musical compositions consist of two or more melodies played at the same time. This form of music is called counterpoint.

Tone colour, also called timbre, is the quality of a musical sound. Tone colours produced by different musical instruments vary widely. For example, a flute has a smooth, bright sound, while an oboe has a more nasal quality. The differences in tone colour are due to difference in the way the instruments are made and in the means of producing sounds on them. Composers take account of tone colour in orchestration (writing or arranging music for a group of instruments). They combine tone colours just as an artist combines paints to create a picture.

Musical notation

Through the years, composers developed a system for writing down music so it could be performed by musicians. This system is called notation. Notation indicates (1) the pitch of notes; (2) the time values, or duration of the notes; and (3) expression–that is, the composer’s ideas about the manner in which the music should be performed.

Indicating pitch. The simplest way to express pitch is to use the letters A to G. This kind of notation, however, cannot show rhythm. Since the 1200’s, composers have used staff notation to express both pitch and rhythm. In this system, signs called notes represent musical sounds. The notes appear on a staff, which consists of five horizontal lines and the four intervening spaces. Each line and space represents a certain pitch. Short ledger lines indicate pitches above or below the staff.

A clef sign at the left end of the staff determines the names of each line and space. Most music is written in either treble clef or bass clef. High notes, such as those for the violin and flute, appear in treble clef. This clef is often called the G clef. It fixes the G above middle C (the C nearest the middle of the piano keyboard) on the second line from the bottom of the staff. Lower notes appear in bass clef, also called F clef. The bass clef fixes the F below middle C on the second line from the top of the staff.

Composers use both treble clef and bass clef for piano and harp music. The C clef is used in music for the viola, and sometimes in music for the bassoon, cello, and trombone. This clef fixes middle C in a position that minimizes the number of ledger lines.

A staff signature, or key signature, appears at the right of the clef sign. It consists of sharp signs or flat signs that indicate which notes should always be played sharp or flat. Each staff signature can indicate either of two keys–one major key and one minor key. For example, two sharps can mean the key of either D major or B minor.

The composer may show a change from the staff signature by placing an accidental in front of a note. An accidental is the sign for a sharp, a flat, or a natural. Any note not marked by a sharp or a flat is a natural. The natural sign cancels a sharp or a flat.

Indicating time values. Staff notation enables composers to indicate how long each note should be held. The semibreve has the longest time value of any note. The second longest note is the minim, then the crotchet, quaver, semiquaver, demisemiquaver, hemidemisemiquaver, and so on. Each time value is divided by two to find the next smallest note value.

The shape of a note shows its time value. Semibreves and minims have an open oval shape. Notes with shorter values have solid oval shapes. All notes except semibreves have stems. To indicate notes with shorter values than the crotchet, composers attach flags, or tails, to the stems. A quaver has one flag; a semiquaver has two, a demisemiquaver has three, and so on. In a series of short notes, the composer connects the note stems with beams instead of attaching a flag to each stem.

A dot on the right of a note increases its duration by half. For example, a dotted minim equals a minim plus a crotchet. Duration may also be increased by a tie, a curved line that connects consecutive notes of the same pitch. The total duration of tied notes equals that of the notes combined.

Periods of silence are an important part of a piece of music. The composer uses marks called rests to indicate silence in music. The various shapes of rests indicate their time values.

A composer groups the notes and rests in a piece of music into units of time called bars, or measures. The composer uses bars to separate measures on the staff. The way in which beats are grouped in bars is called the metre.

Metre is indicated by the time signature, a fraction that appears at the beginning of a piece of music. The numerator of the fraction tells the number of beats in a bar. The denominator tells what kind of note–minim, crotchet, quaver–receives one beat. Music with a 2/4 metre, for example, has two beats to a bar and a crotchet as the beat unit. One bar of 2/4 may have a minim, two crotchets, four quavers, or some other combination totalling two beats. A 4/4 metre, sometimes written as C, has four crotchets to a measure. Other commonly used metres include 3/4 and 6/8.

Many modern composers create irregular rhythms by changing the time signature several times during a piece of music. These composers also may use unusual time signatures, such as 5/4 or 11/16.

Another important element of time in music is tempo. The tempo tells how slowly or quickly the beat unit should be played. Composers sometimes show tempo by a metronome mark, which indicates the number of beats per minute. The musician can then follow the tempo by using a metronome, a timekeeping machine that can be adjusted to tick off each beat. Composers also may use a number of Italian words to indicate tempo. For example, the word adagio means slowly, and the word presto means fast. These Italian words are used because Italian musicians had the greatest influence in Europe during the 1600’s and 1700’s, when composers first used words to indicate tempo.

Indicating expression. To affect a listener’s feelings, music must be expressive. Composers use various words and symbols to indicate the kind of expression they want in a piece of music.

Some directions indicate articulation–that is, how a series of notes should be connected. A curved line over or under notes means that the notes should be connected smoothly. This style of playing is called legato. A dot over or under notes indicates that they should be played as short notes with silence between them. Musicians call this type of articulation staccato.

Composers use certain Italian words or their abbreviations to indicate dynamics (loudness or softness). For example, the word pianissimo (or pp) means very soft, and the word fortissimo (or ff) means very loud. Other directions, also in Italian, concern the emotional quality of the music. For example, dolce means sweetly, allegro means lively, and cantabile means songlike.

Music around the world

Western music is the music of people of European ancestry. It is the major form of music in Europe, North America, South America, and Australia. People in some Asian countries–for example, China, Korea, and Japan–also enjoy Western music. Western music can be divided into three main types: (1) classical music, (2) popular music, and (3) folk music.

Classical music, also called art music, is composed according to certain rules and performed by musicians from written music. It includes symphonies and music for opera and ballet. Classical composers have written different styles of music during different periods of history. For example, most classical music composed in the late 1700’s stresses simplicity and elegance. But much classical music of the late 1800’s is highly imaginative and emotional. Music written by great classical composers of the past provides as much enjoyment today as when it was written. See CLASSICAL MUSIC.

Popular music includes many kinds of music, such as country music, jazz, rock music, and music from musical comedies and films. Popular music, or entertainment music, is generally much simpler than classical music. However, some pieces written as popular music hundreds of years ago are performed as classical music today. In addition, many great classical composers wrote some tunes in the style of the popular music of their time. Thus, the line between popular and classical music is flexible, not hard and fast.

Country music is derived from the folk music of rural whites of the Southern United States and other American traditional music. Country music is played from memory or improvised (spontaneously varied) from an existing song. See COUNTRY MUSIC.

Jazz first became popular about 1900 among blacks of the Southern United States. It combines the complex rhythms of African music and the harmony of Western music. Jazz musicians have experimented with many kinds of instruments and styles. Most jazz features much improvisation. See JAZZ.

Rock music is a mixture of blues, country music, jazz, and American and British entertainment music. It is easier to understand than classical music or jazz. Styles of rock music frequently change, but such music always has a strong beat and a simple melody and rhythm. See ROCK MUSIC.

Folk music consists of the traditional songs of a people. Most folk songs begin in rural communities. One person makes up a song, and other people hear it and learn to sing it. Some folk songs have been passed on in this way for hundreds of years. Many composers of classical music have used folk music in their works. See FOLK MUSIC.

Asian music sounds different from Western music because the scales, instruments, and composing techniques used are different. For example, a scale in Western music has 12 notes to an octave. But the Arab scale has 17 notes to an octave, and the Indian scale has 22 notes. Such scales are called microtonal because they are made up of microtones–that is, intervals smaller than a semitone. The chief types of Asian music are those of (1) China, (2) Japan, (3) India, (4) the Arab countries, and (5) Indonesia.

Chinese music began more than 2,000 years ago. Orchestras with hundreds of musicians performed at early Chinese religious ceremonies and court festivities. Today, all Chinese plays are set to music. Peking opera, also called Beijing opera, is the most popular form of Chinese drama. It combines dialogue, music, dancing, and acrobatics.

The principal Chinese musical instruments are the jin and the pipa, two plucked stringed instruments. Chinese musicians also play bowed stringed instruments, flutes, and percussion instruments, especially bells, drums, and gongs. The basic scale of Chinese music has five notes, most commonly F, G, A, C, and D. Traditional Chinese music does not have harmony.

Japanese music was influenced by the court music of China. Japanese court music, called gagaku, dates from the A.D. 700’s. Japanese orchestras consist of shakuhachi (bamboo flutes), gongs, drums, and such plucked stringed instruments as the samisen and the koto.

Music is an essential part of Japanese theatre. The no play, a form of Japanese drama developed in the 1300’s, features solo and choral singing with accompaniment by a small orchestra. A large orchestra provides background music for the kabuki, a dance-drama.

Japanese music has no harmony but makes use of microtones and free rhythm. The basic scales are the natural minor scale and a major scale with the fourth note raised a half step–for example, the C major scale with an F sharp instead of an F.

Indian music is one of the few kinds of non-Western music that have become internationally popular. It first flourished in Hindu temples and the courts of the maharajahs (great kings) of India. A soloist sings or plucks a stringed instrument, such as the vina or the sitar. The soloist may be accompanied by a drummer and a musician playing a tambura, a lutelike instrument.

The notes of the Indian scale are arranged in various patterns called ragas. Each raga has a special meaning and may be associated with a particular mood, emotion, season, or time of day. The performer chooses an appropriate raga, plays it, and then improvises on it. See also INDIA, DANCE AND MUSIC OF.

Arab music is the music of the Arab nations of the Middle East and northern Africa. The main Arab instruments include flutes; drums; and two plucked stringed instruments, the oud and the qanun. Most Arab songs have instrumental accompaniment. However, musical instruments may not be used in Muslim worship. The chief Muslim religious music consists of calls to prayer sung by criers called muezzins and the chanting of passages from the Quran, the sacred book of the Muslims.

Indonesian music is noted for orchestras called gamelans. These orchestras consist of drums, gongs, and xylophones and are used to accompany puppet plays. Gamelan music has a kind of harmony because the instruments play different melodies at the same time.

African music is the music of black peoples who live south of the Sahara. These peoples use music in almost every aspect of their lives, especially religious ceremonies, festivals, and social rituals. Many Africans believe that music serves as a link with the spirit world.

Drums are the most important instruments in African music. Some drums are made of animal skins and may be played with the fingers. Others consist of hollow logs that the performer beats with sticks. African musicians also play flutes, xylophones, and stringed instruments. One kind of instrument, called the sansa or mbira, consists of a number of metal strips attached to a piece of wood. The musician plays the instrument by plucking the strips with the fingers or thumbs.

Most African music features complex rhythms. The musicians create these rhythms by combining different patterns of beats played on drums and iron bells or produced by handclapping. Some African songs have harmony. In many songs, a leader sings a phrase and then the chorus repeats the phrase or sings a refrain. Elements of African music appear in jazz, spirituals, gospel music, and the popular music of Brazil and the Caribbean.

American Indian music is the traditional music of the Indians of North and South America. Much of it developed before Europeans arrived in the Americas.

American Indians almost always perform music as part of an activity. For example, music and dancing play an important part in Indian religious ceremonies and such tribal rituals as rain dances and hunting dances. Indian religious leaders called medicine men sing songs as they treat the sick. The Indians also use songs in various social situations, such as courtship and trading. Many Indians compose their own songs. In the past, they said that they learned these songs from spirits that appeared to them in dreams.

Most American Indian music consists of singing accompanied by drums or rattles. Much of this vocal music uses a five-note scale–A, C, D, F, G. Some Indian groups also perform flute music.

In various parts of Latin America, the music of the Indians mixed with the folk music of their Spanish conquerors. This mixture produced distinctive types of popular music and dance.


How do composers indicate silence in music?

What is Western music? Why does Asian music sound different from Western music?

What is a staff signature? A time signature?

How do minor scales and major scales differ?

What is counterpoint?

What is the difference between tone and tone colour?

How does a musician play a brass instrument?

What is a theme? A motive?

What is the major difference between music and such arts as painting and poetry?

Additional Resources

Level I

Berger, Melvin. The Science of Music. Crowell 1989. Illustrated discussion of music fundamentals, instruments, acoustics, and recording.

Griffin, Clive D. Jazz. Dryad 1989.

The Oxford Junior Companion to Music. Ed. by Michael Hurd. 2nd ed. Oxford 1979.

Previn, Andre. Andre Previn’s Guide to the Orchestra. Putnam 1983.

Wilson, Clive. The Kingfisher Young People’s Book of Music. Larousse Kingfisher Chambers, New York, 1996.

Level II

Booth, Mark W. American Popular Music: A Reference Guide. Greenwood 1983.

Chase, Gilbert. America’s Music: From the Pilgrims to the Present. 3rd ed. Univ. of Illinois Press 1987. History of popular and classical music.

Copland, Aaron. What to Listen for in Music. Rev. ed. McGraw 1988.

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Vol 1: Africa. Edited by Ruth Stone. Garland Publishing, New York, 1996.

Geiringer, Karl. Instruments in the History of Western Music. 3rd ed. Oxford 1978.

Grout, Donald Jay. A History of Western Music. 3rd ed. Norton 1980.

Machlis, Joseph. The Enjoyment of Music: An Introduction to Perceptive Listening. 5th ed. Norton 1984.

The New Oxford Companion to Music. Ed. by Denis Arnold. 2 vols. Oxford 1983.

Stambler, Irwin. Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock, & Soul. St. Martin’s 1989.

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