“Music is the social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is.”

Malcolm Arnold

Music is a human activity that functions within its social and cultural contexts. It has never been an autonomous art form divorced from social, political, economic, technological, and ethical developments. Instead, music in society and culture touches on an extensive range of human endeavors. It may accompany every human activity from the cradle to the grave and include lullabies, games, dancing, working, healing, battling, ceremonies, festivals, weddings and funerals. Music in and as culture suggest not only how people use, perform, compose and think about music and their general attitudes towards it, but also how it functions as emotional expression, aesthetic enjoyment, or as entertainment. In this section you find articles that look at music from a variety of interdisciplinary and current viewpoints. We explore music influence, the value of music, and music of life through the lens of folklore, cultural anthropology, performance studies, dance, area studies, cultural studies, gender studies, race or ethnic studies, or other fields in the humanities and social sciences. Music plays an important role in shaping society and identities, and it provides parameters that can be used to frame experiences, perceptions, feelings, and comportments. For better or worse, music has become a commodity and significantly changed our experience and social practices.

242 Posts
  • Violins of Hope Violins of Hope
    Music has long stirred the spirit. Since time immemorial it has allowed us to soar to other realms mitigating heartbreak, offering solace, and encouraging optimism. But can the musical instruments themselves bear witness? Imbue future generations with sentiments from a
  • Saving Polyphonic Church Music Saving Polyphonic Church Music
    Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525/26-1594) may have been born in the city of Palestrina, as indicated by his name, or may have been born in Rome, where his father may be the ‘Santo de Prenestino’ on the 1525 census. In
  • When Western Choirs Sing Indian Music – Part III When Western Choirs Sing Indian Music – Part III
    The most common form of popular music in India is film music – songs from the movies, and Sperry has not shied away from adapting this form for choirs. Popular Music in Choral Format As mentioned in Part I of
  • When Western Choirs Sing Indian Music – Part II When Western Choirs Sing Indian Music – Part II
    “One reason I love performing non-Western music is because I don’t find non-Western ideas in the music. I find basic human emotions and experiences that I have, I share, and I understand.” That outlook helps Ethan Sperry take on the
  • When Western Choirs Sing Indian Music – Part I When Western Choirs Sing Indian Music – Part I
    The United States of America (the India that Christopher Columbus thought he reached) and the real India lie on diametrically opposite sides of the globe; noon here, midnight there. The two lands only had sporadic contact in the distant past.
  • The Concert Preacher: Music in the Service of Politics? The Concert Preacher: Music in the Service of Politics?
    When Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman told American audiences during his debut recital at Disney Hall in Los Angeles “Get your hands off my country,” he stirred up the seemingly endless debate whether classical music and political advocacy can or should
  • Music in the Air and on the Street Music in the Air and on the Street
    They all seem to start the same way – a public location – a mall, a public square, an airport, a few people wandering through with purpose, and then it all snaps into focus. The music starts, or the bass
  • China and Opera: Discovery and Sublimation China and Opera: Discovery and Sublimation
    Before the harpsichord was introduced into China in 1601 by Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), during the Ming Dynasty, no Chinese had heard Western music. We could say that Matteo Ricci and his successors drew royal attention merely by using these Western