chapter  3
26 Pages

Cultural Considerations: Beyond the Sounds Themselves

In a technical sense, music is organized sound and can be analyzed by concentrating on its elements alone, such as melody, rhythm, phonic structure, form, and so forth. But no music exists in a vacuum, free from social context, even if it primarily lives on concert stages or in recordings. All music manifests itself within a “culture,” however defined, and has meanings for those who create, perform, or consume it that go far beyond the sounds themselves. This chapter briefly discusses some of the perspectives that may be brought to bear on a given musical type or style. These ideas, however incomplete, at least suggest that a full understanding of any music would require multiple approaches. Obviously, with only limited space we cannot apply all these concepts to every Site, but those that are most relevant will be discussed where appropriate.