With the click of a mouse, now more than ever we are able to access sounds made by people from all around the world. And yet, most of us don't listen to the wide diversity of music available to us, probably because it sounds so strange. This class will open up the world of music to you. We begin with a brief history of recording technology, the music industry and the place of world music in that narrative; you are introduced to keywords for talking about music cross-culturally; and then proceed to half a dozen musical cultures around the world. In each of these musical cultures, we examine the ways in which music works in those distant cultures, how it sounds, what it means, who may perform it; and then we ask ourselves where this music has traveled and entered into the Western popular culture as entertainment, political discourse, or artistic purpose.
Though it may be useful, you are not required to have any music theoretical knowledge to take the class. You will learn not just about “music” as absolute sound, but about how music works in particular communities, and as a globally distributed, and often politically contested, entity.
There is no single book published on this material, though reference is made to scholarly literature and recordings in the course of each lecture.
The class will consist of lecture videos and discussions of youtube music clips, which are between 8 and 15 minutes in length. Video clips contain an integrated quiz question or short matching quiz. There will also be standalone homework discussion forums that are not part of video lectures, and a (not optional) final exam.
Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.
An inquiring mind and ears open to hearing a wide range of sound. Access to Youtube.
World Music is a marketing category created by the music industry in the late 1980s for music not traditionally considered “mainstream” by the industry. The term doesn’t mean we will cover all of the world’s music in 7 weeks. Rather we focus briefly on a handful of musical cultures to examine ways in which music has been harnessed by communities and individuals in the contemporary world for a variety of purposes.
No. You will learn to listen to, and discuss the music you hear in several ways. Graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania provide examples of how they hear the music, to encourage you to do similarly. You are given basic musical vocabulary relevant to each unit.
All musical examples used in the class come from Youtube, though there are many online resources you may know yourselves for locating musical examples that are either free or available for a small fee. We will make reference to a range of recordings and films that you may wish to locate and view in your own time. It will be an added bonus if you know about and inform other students in the class about further resources on a subject or community discussed in this course.
Your ears will open to new sounds, your mind to new understanding of these sounds, your playlist will grow, and you will expand your knowledge of the world through its extraordinary range of music.