The official catalog description of this course is Global aspects of music and its meaning with connections to the environment, sound, and world cultures.
This course investigates the sound and sentiment of traditional and contemporary music in each port-of-call and region of our voyage. Distinctive sounds in unique places reflect and resonate meaningful characteristics and concerns in cultural contexts. As the voice of society, music echoes ideology, behavior, rituals, values, aesthetics, and history. We will discover why music serves as a universal language of harmony, a regional declaration of individuality, and an unsurpassed vehicle for cross-cultural communication.
We will explore the styles and significance of global music forms as we travel our routes on oceans, canals, and landscapes. Music reveals how distinctive sounds of unique places reflect and resonate the particular character and concerns of cultures, and the individuals belonging to those cultures. There are innumerable creative ways through which musicians fashion their craft to articulate their beliefs and express their cultural norms. Unique configurations of melodies, harmonies, rhythms, timbres, textures, instrumentations and lyrics reveal colorful identities and articulate complex ideologies. We will contrast the sounds and structures of the various musical cultures of our travels, exploring the cross-cultural similarities and multi-cultural differences between styles, and determining the motives and functions of each form; whether as entertainment, narrative commentary, expression of feelings, forms of worship or accompaniment to rites of passage. Finally, we explore the imperative development of global styles from traditional to popular, as global influences and internal predicaments affect the boundaries of style and cause worldwide hybridizations. Through an investigation of each culture’s music, we will reveal both the strong influence of creative individuals in reflecting and shaping the history of their societies in particular and the enormous importance of global music in ‘sounding culture’ in general.
*Note: This class is delivered when lunch is served.
Field WorkCountry: Ghana
Date: October 28, 2019
Students will receive a cultural introduction to the music and dance styles of the area by participating in a dancing and drumming workshop led by a local ethnomusicologist.
- Introduction to the cultural life of the area around Tema and Takoradi, with an introduction to dance and music styles
- Participation in a drum circle to learn the fundamentals of rhythm coordination of African drumming
- Participation in a dance class to learn the fundamentals and blending of African dance and music, and understand how these performance forms shape cultural identity in Ghana.