Cross-Cultural Understanding

in The Music between Us

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780226333281
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226333274 | DOI:
Cross-Cultural Understanding

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Several features of musical perception appear to be characteristic of humans, and thus can be expected to affect the way music is organized despite their inadequacy to dictate musical structure in detail. This chapter examines some “structural universals” of music that are typical of the way people organize music in all or most cultures. Although such “universals” are widespread patterns, they do not necessarily apply to all human music. Nevertheless, they are also capable of facilitating comprehension of much foreign music because they indicate patterns that should be familiar to members of most musical cultures. The chapter also considers certain factors that stand in the way of the listener who seeks to understand alien music. After discussing some of the obstacles to cross-cultural musical understanding, it concludes by focusing on how these obstacles might be overcome.

Keywords: musical perception; music; musical structure; structural universals; musical cultures; foreign music

Chapter.  9393 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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