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    So, we move from language and literature to another similar communication, music. Before we begin, what is your favorite song or piece of music? Take 5 minutes and listen to it.

    Here’s mine.

    Let’s begin with these questions. We won’t know the answers right away, but as we work through this unit, maybe we can add to our understanding of what makes us human.

    1. What do we mean when we refer to music as the universal language?
    2. What is music? How is this different from sound?
    3. Why do people listen to music?
    4. How is music structured?
    5. What is a rhythm and melody?
    6. How is rhythm different from a beat?
    7. What is a timbre, and how are instruments different from each other?
    8. Why do some things sound harmonious and others don't?
    9. How and why is music central to a culture and community?
    10. How are music and arts related?
    11. How has music influenced history? And how has history influenced music?
    12. Why is music so important to humans?
    13. What is the purpose (or purposes) of music?
    14. How does music transcend language?
    15. Why is music split into notes and measures?
    16. Why is the human voice particularly powerful in music?

    In this next Ted lecture, Victor Wooten talks about music as a powerful communication tool. He says that it causes us to laugh, cry, think, and question. He is a Bassist and five=time Grammy winner. Take some time to read through the questions before you begin listening to the video.

    Music as a language - Victor Wooten

    Music is a powerful communication tool--it causes us to laugh, cry, think and question. Bassist and five-time Grammy winner, Victor Wooten, asks us to approach music the same way we learn verbal language-- by embracing mistakes and playing as often as possible.

    Questions to answer:

    Both music and verbal languages serve what purpose, according to Wooten?

    A They are both ways to get smarter.

    B They are both forms of expression.

    C They are both ways to help you understand mathematics.

    D They are both much harder than texting.

    How did you learn the first language you spoke? Were you allowed to make mistakes? How do you think those mistakes helped you learn the language? How do you think that relates to learning to play a musical instrument?

    In some instances, music works better than the spoken word. Why?

    A Speaking takes too much time.

    B Music is much prettier than speaking.

    C There's historical proof that music is much older than spoken language.

    D Music doesn't have to be understood to be effective.

    Should beginning musicians play with accomplished musicians? Why? How often should it happen?

    Who are some of your musical idols? Do you think they improve when they play with other musicians?

    According to Wooten, when we are learning to speak, what best describes the majority of people we speak to?

    A Most language learners are only allowed to speak to other beginners until they are proficient speakers.

    B Most people that language learners speak to are already proficient speakers.

    C They are too smart for you to ever understand.

    D Language learners only learn to speak by reading.

    Wooten says that beginning musicians should play more than they practice. Do you agree? Why or why not?

    When you are first learning music, you should embrace mistakes instead of correcting them.

    A True

    B False

    What does Wooten say about following a strict regiment under the tutelage of a skilled teacher?

    A It's the best way to learn music.

    B Nobody learns music this way.

    C It's wrong.

    D It takes a long time. Too long.

    So, you may have learned about how to classify musical instruments in a music theory class. Typically, in western music classes we talk about wind instruments, woodwind instruments, brass instruments, stringed instruments, and percussion instruments. Can you name one of each of these?

    n this course, we’re going to use a common classification system used in ethnomusicology, the study of music in world cultures. In this system, there are only four kinds:

    Aerophones (wind instruments)

    Chordophones (stringed instruments)

    Membranophones (instruments with a membrane, such as a drum)

    Idiophones (self sounding instruments).

    In this way of studying music, it is the way a sound is produced that determines the kind of instrument.

    What would a guitar be classified as?


    What would a flute be classified as?


    What about a voice?


    What about a conga drum?


    So, let’s take a look at one fascinating aerophone, the didgeridoo from Australia.


    Click on this link to read about the didgeridoo. Remember to look back at our questions as you read.

    Take a look at this film. Is this ‘sound’ or ‘music”? Is it ‘poetry’, ‘language’, or something else?

    El Silbo by Angello Faccini

    Let’s watch a film about a Colombian flamenco guitarist living in Seville, Spain. As you watch this film, consider the following:

    1. What draws you to a type of music?
    2. What is the most important to you, the lyrics, the rhythm, the experience or feeling?
    3. As you watch, pay attention to the elements of this music, the singing, the guitar, the dance, and the handclaps.
    4. What kind of story does flamenco tell? Why are these stories important?
    5. How can doing what you love ‘feed’ you? What are some examples from your own life where art, language, dance, music or sport ‘feed’ you?

    The Man is the Music by Maris Curran

    Length: 19 min. Place: Atlanta, GA

    The Man is the Music draws us into Atlanta-based artist and musician Lonnie Holley's imaginative and captivating world. Prolific artist, musician and lover of Mother Earth, Holley treasures the discarded. Nurturing the neglected, he finds healing in the transformative power of art. This short documentary is not so much a portrait of the prolific artist and musician, as an experiential reflection on art as a way of life. Holley’s work is a product of the environment in which he was raised —Jim Crow Alabama—and reflects the impact of being socially discarded. Holley compulsively creates and his work is a means to deal with loss. It’s through his unique perspective and the process of creating beauty that Lonnie draws us into an imaginative and captivating world.

    Create a piece of art from garbage. What lyrics might accompany your art?

    Celebrating Indigenous Language Through Song

    With a partner and using this guide,,-44.18799068,- 16650.99999158a,31916368d,35y,0h,0.00000095t,0r/data=CjISMBIgYTY1Y2U1NTk3MzE4MTFlOTkzN2 RjN2JkNTNhNDc1ZGIiDHNwbGFzaHNjcmVlbg, listen again to the Celebrating Indigenous Languages for common lullabies.,-44.18799068,- 16650.99999158a,31916368d,35y,0h,0.00000095t,0r/data=CjISMBIgYTY1Y2U1NTk3MzE4MTFlOTkzN2 RjN2JkNTNhNDc1ZGIiDHNwbGFzaHNjcmVlbg

    Vincent Moon and Nana Vasconcelos: Hidden Music Rituals Around the World

    Vincent Moon travels the world with a backpack and a camera, filming astonishing music and ritual the world rarely sees -- from a powerful Sufi ritual in Chechnya to an ayahuasca journey in Peru. He hopes his films can help people see their own cultures in a new way, to make young people say: "Whoa, my grandfather is as cool as Beyoncé." Followed by a mesmerizing performance by jazz icon Naná Vasconcelos.

    Take a look at his website and his films. You can start with the map.

    Describe the ‘soundscape’ of several of his films.

    A soundscape is the acoustic environment as perceived by humans, in context. The term was originally coined by Michael Southworth[1], and popularised by R. Murray Schafer.[2] There is a varied history of the use of soundscape depending on discipline, ranging from urban design to wildlife ecology to computer science.[3] An important distinction is to separate soundscape from the broader acoustic environment. The acoustic environment is the combination of all the acoustic resources, natural and artificial, within a given area as modified by the environment. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standardized these definitions in 2014.(ISO 12913-1:2014)

    A soundscape is a sound or combination of sounds that forms or arises from an immersive environment. The study of soundscape is the subject of acoustic ecology or soundscape ecology. The idea of soundscape refers to both the natural acoustic environment, consisting of natural sounds, including animal vocalizations, the collective habitat expression of which is now referred to as the biophony, and, for instance, the sounds of weather and other natural elements, now referred to as the geophony; and environmental sounds created by humans, the anthropophony through a sub-set called controlled sound, such as musical composition, sound design, and language, work, and sounds of mechanical origin resulting from use of industrial technology. Crucially, the term soundscape also includes the listener's perception of sounds heard as an environment: "how that environment is understood by those living within it"[4] and therefore mediates their relations. The disruption of these acoustic environments results in noise pollution.[5]

    Let’s go back to the essential questions from the beginning of this unit.

    Here are several Ted Talks from a playlist that may answer some of those questions

    Robert Gupta: Between music and medicine.

    When Robert Gupta was caught between a career as a doctor and as a violinist, he realized his place was in the middle, with a bow in his hand and a sense of social justice in his heart. He tells a moving story of society's marginalized and the power of music therapy, which can succeed where conventional medicine fails.

    Tod Machover and Dan Ellsey: Inventing instruments that unlock new music

    Tod Machover of MIT's Media Lab is devoted to extending musical expression to everyone, from virtuosos to amateurs, and in the most diverse forms, from opera to video games. He and composer Dan Ellsey shed light on what's next.

    Ji-Hae Park: The violin, and my dark night of the soul

    In her quest to become a world-famous violinist, Ji-Hae Park fell into a severe depression. Only music was able to lift her out again -- showing her that her goal needn’t be to play lofty concert halls, but instead to bring the wonder of the instrument to as many people as possible.

    Benjamin Zander: The transformative power of classical music

    Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it -- and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections.

    Evelyn Glennie: How to truly listen

    In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums.

    Michael Tilson Thomas: Music and emotion through time.

    In this epic overview, Michael Tilson Thomas traces the development of classical music through the development of written notation, the record, and the re-mix.

    Then…elements of music

    Ethnomusicology is the study of music from the cultural and social aspects of the people who make it. It encompasses distinct theoretical and methodical approaches that emphasize cultural, social, material, cognitive, biological, and other dimensions or contexts of musical behavior, in addition to the sound component.

    The suppressed Spanish Jesuit Antonio Eximeno (1729-1809) is considered the theoretical founder of the field. Folklorists, who began preserving and studying folklore music in Europe and the US in the 19th century, are also considered precursors of the field prior to the Second World War. The term ethnomusicology is said to have been first coined by Jaap Kunst from the Greek words ἔθνος (ethnos, "nation") and μουσική (mousike, "music"), It is often defined as the anthropology or ethnography of music, or as musical anthropology.[1] During its early development from comparative musicology in the 1950s, ethnomusicology was primarily oriented toward non-Western music, but for several decades it has included the study of all and any musics of the world (including Western art music and popular music) from anthropological, sociological and intercultural perspectives. Bruno Nettl once characterized ethnomusicology as a product of Western thinking, proclaiming that "ethnomusicology as western culture knows it is actually a western phenomenon";[2] in 1992, Jeff Todd Titon described it as the study of "people making music".[3]

    When we listen or perform music, how do we critique or categorize or study music?

    Let’s go back again to our essential questions. As you listen to these videos of music from around the world, which questions can you answer?

    This page titled Music is shared under a CC BY-NC license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Lori-Beth Larsen.

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