The social and personal functions of music in cross-cultural perspective

Martin Clayton

in Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780199298457
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 The social and personal functions of music in cross-cultural perspective

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Music's uses and contexts are so many and so various that the task of cataloguing its functions is daunting: how can we make sense of this diversity? These functions appear to range from the individual (music can affect the way we feel and the way we manage our lives) to the social (it can facilitate the coordination of large numbers of people and help to forge a sense of group identity). This article argues that musical behaviour covers a vast middle ground in which relationships between self and other or between the individual and the collective are played out. It surveys some of the extant literature on music's functions – referring to literature from ethnomusicology, anthropology, musicology, psychology, and sociology, and discussing a wide variety of musical contexts from around the world – and develops an argument emphasizing music's role in the management of relationships between self and other.

Keywords: musical behaviour; self; other

Article.  6138 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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