Music: An Appreciation
10th Edition
by Roger Kamien
Part XI
Nonwestern Music
2011 © McGraw-Hill Higher Education
Nonwestern Music
• Reflects/expresses world’s diversity
• Each culture has its music practice
• Some have all 3—folk, pop, & classical
• These musics influence western music
• Especially true in the 20th Century
• French composer Claude Debussy
• British rocker George Harrison
• Jazz artist John Coltrane
Ch. 1 - Music in
Nonwestern Cultures
Characteristics of Nonwestern Music
• It reflects its supporting culture
• Frequently linked with religion, dance and drama
• Often used to communicate messages & relate
Oral Tradition
• Frequently transmitted by oral tradition
• Music notation far less important than in western
• Many cultures do not have a music notation
• When they do, it serves as a record, not for teaching or
• Improvisation is frequently basic to the music
• Improvisation usually based on traditional melodic
phrases and rhythmic patterns
• Singing usually main way of making music
• Vocal approach, timbre, and techniques vary
throughout the world
• Nasal sound
• Strained tone
• Throat singing
• Many others
• Four types based upon sound production:
• Membranophones—stretched skin
• Primarily drums
• Chordophones—stretched string
• Harp-type
• Aerophones—performer’s breath
• Flutes, trumpets, etc.
• Idiophones—instrument’s body is sound generator
• Bells, gongs, scrapers, rattles, etc.
• Style and application within culture causes
particular types of instruments to dominate
• Strings allow great flexibility of pitch
• Idiophones/membranophones: rhythmic emphasis
• Aerophones aid in outdoor performance
• Geography & materials availability influences
• Religion also influences instrumentation
Melody, Rhythm, and Texture
• Most nonwestern musics are monophonic
• Sometimes accompanied by a drone
• Some cultures use heterophony
• All perform same melody with different ornamentation
• Scales in nonwestern music are frequently
quite different than western musical scales
• Intervals between tones can be larger or smaller
• Much nonwestern music has very complex
Interaction between Nonwestern
and Western Music
• Nonwestern music has been greatly impacted
by western influences due to:
• Increased urbanization
• Spread of technology
• Almost worldwide access to recorded music
• Some governments subsidize traditional
music to preserve cultural heritage
Ch. 2 - Music in Sub-Saharan Africa
• Africa is divided into two parts: above and
below the Sahara desert
• Above: Moslem, Arabic-speaking, music closely
related to that of the Middle East
• Below: Extremely diverse, many religions, cultures,
and languages (over 700)
• Though Sub-Saharan music is diverse, there
are some similarities:
Complex rhythms and polyrhythms
Percussive sounds
Wide variety of instrumental ensembles
Vocal music usually a soloist & responding chorus
Music in Society
• Music permeates African life from religion,
entertainment, & magic to rites of passage
• It is so interwoven into life that the abstract
word “music” is not used by many peoples
• Closely associated with dancing in
ceremonies, rituals, & celebrations
• Dancers frequently play and sing while dancing
• Music is a social activity—everyone joins in
• No musical notation—passed by oral tradition
Elements of African Music
Rhythm and Percussion
• Complex rhythms & polyrhythms predominate
• Dancers choose to follow any of the various rhythms
• The body used as an instrument
• Clapping, stamping, slapping thigh/chest
Vocal Music
• Wide variety of sounds, even within a single piece
• Call and response extremely common
• Percussion ostinato frequently accompanies singers
• Short musical phrases repeated to different words
• Often homophonic or polyphonic
• This is unlike most nonwestern musics
• Same melody often sung at many pitch levels
African Instruments
Most common African instrument
Most are of indefinite pitch
Xylophones, a favorite, come in many sizes
“Talking drum” w/ slit in side can produce 2-4 tones
• Used in many ceremonial & work-pace applications
• Drum manufacture often accompanied by special rites
• Drums usually played in groups—multiple players
• Variety of shapes, sizes, and forms
Aerophones and Chordophones
• Flutes & trumpets (of wood & horn) most common
• Reed instruments less widespread
• Chordophones plucked or struck, gourd resonators
Ompeh (from Ghana)
Basic Set, CD 9:44 Brief Set, CD 5:61
Listening Outline: p. 534
Male voice w/ choral responses
Percussion ensemble
Mitamba Yalagala Kumchuzi
(dance song of the Zaramo people in
Basic Set: CD 9:47
Listening Outline: p. 535
Ch. 3 - Classical Music of India
• Musical traditions date back over 3,000 years
• Two main types of classical music
• Hindustani: secular, court music from Northern
India (including now-Pakistan)
• Absorbed many Persian elements due to Muslim Persian
• Karnatak: temple music from South India
• Developed along its own lines
• Music viewed as a spiritual discipline
• Oral tradition—study by apprenticeship
• Very important, sophisticated, & developed
• Guided by melodic & rhythmic formula
• Must study for years before allowed improv.
Elements of Indian Classical Music
• Music is based upon the human voice
• Pitch range limited to about four octaves
• Highly embellished melody, both vocal and
instrumental, is characteristic
• Melodies almost always accompanied by a
drone instrument
Melodic Structure: Raga
• Melody exists within a framework called a
raga—a defined pattern of notes
Rhythmic Structure: Tala
• Rhythm is organized into blocks or cycles,
each called a tala
• Tala range from 3-100 beats in length
• 6-16 is most common
• Vocal music most important in India
• Many types of instruments
• Many instruments associated w/ specific gods
• Sitar most popular chordophone
• Long necked, lute (guitar) like instrument
• 7 plucked strings, 9-13 sympathetically vibrating
• Drums of many sizes
• Tabla and mridangam drums most common
by Ravi Shankar
p. 540
Basic Set, CD 9:48 Brief Set, CD 5:64
Raga and tala (beat cycle) organization
Heavy reliance on stringed instruments
Extensive improvisation
Nonwestern musical form
Ch. 4 - Koto Music of Japan
The Koto
Godan-Ginuta, by Mitsuzaki Kengyo
Listening Outline: p. 544
Brief Set, CD 9:51
Duet for two kotos, each tuned to different scales
Lively dialogue
Monophonic, heterophonic, & polyphonic textures
Many tones “bent” upward or downward
Duple meter, flexible tempo

Music: An Appreciation by Roger Kamien