Writing about World Music

Section X, Fall 2016

Author: gasoden

Latina Identity and Perception

I read the Moehn chapters and as a women the perception of Fernanda Abreu as a female singer in Brazil was very interesting but also saddening. I feel as though Brazil and America are both very male dominated societies which makes it harder for women to excel in any field. I think the music industry in particular because the female artists that are common in pop culture are highly sexualized and objectified unlike their male counterparts. Women especially in Brazil are under extreme pressure from society to be good mothers and housewives rather than successful in business. Abreu was actually criticized for not giving enough time and energy to her family and instead was focused too much on her successful singing career. The men in this society don’t have this same pressure to be loving and faithful husbands and fathers. I know I sound like a crazy feminist but for me the perception and pressures women face are so sad and unfair and I feel that this may not directly pertain to music but it still influences the creating of music. In the lyrics of some of the Brazilian music presented in the book and commonly found in rap lyrics is the objectification and sexualization of women. Men are not presented in this way and are actually glorified for their roles are suave womanizers. Since we are doing ethnographies in class I thought this would be interesting to bring up because the role and perception of women in society play into the context and background necessary to understand Moehn’s book. As per usual in this class I have no solution to this problem with the presentation of women in society but I can only open this topic up for discussion and hope that more discussion will lead to a more accurate and less objectified view of women. My last point is that this perception of women obviously impacts their opportunities because there are way more men discussed in the book than women probably due to limited opportunities for women.  I thought that this needed to be brought up because I view this as a problem but not everyone may.


I have been fascinated by ethnomusicologists since we learned about them because there is so much bias and so many ways to interpret other cultures. Ethnomusicologists have an interesting yet difficult job and I really wanted to learn more about it. The article I read about ethnomusicology also deals with world music in a way because it talks about the universality of music that researchers try so hard to stay away from yet science proves the ethnomusicologists wrong. I want to be a neuroscience major and this topic is where neuroscience and music collide. The article says “The music experts insist that every local performance tradition is unique and incommensurable, while across campus the scientists are demonstrating that all song traditions converge on the basis of universal human characteristics.” This quote shows that there is a universality to music because there are universal aspects to the human condition. This fact that there is some universality interested me because ‘world music’ generalized any music not from the West but how does this new information about music play into how music is defined and talked about across borders. From the readings in class, I have learned we shouldn’t generalize music yet this data shows that there are music universals. I am curious how people in class would respond to this and how this can impact the study or world musics. We try to  be unbiased and fair to not look down on other cultures by making generalizations but the generalizations can be true sometimes. I think this point can actually help us to appreciate and respect other cultures more not because they are different but because they share a universal human condition. Globalization definitely helped with the spread of ideas and I think these universalities will lead to complications with proper credit given to creators and artists. I would love to know what other people think on the topic the article is as follows:

Face the Music

Music and Religion

The most recent article we read described how music impacted religion and how people worshipped. This made me curious about the connection between music and religion because all religions seem to have a form/style of music associated with them. My personal religious journey is a confusing one with the exploration of multiple religions. Yet the commonalities of every single one is that there is a musical aspect that seems to unite people. My favorite part of any religious service is when everyone is singing in unison even when I don’t understand the words. There is this one song at the Catholic mass I most often attend that is played after communion and I never fail to get chills when I sing it. From the articles we have read in class it is easy to see how music shapes communities both geographical communities and religious communities. I read a fascinating article by a neuroscience which is the following link:


This neuroscientist is an atheist but music allows him to be emotionally empathetic to religion. To me this is incredibly moving and demonstrates the power that music has over people. His quote, “when I am listening to certain pieces of music I feel a reverence creeping over me, an awe that has a spiritual quality” that makes me believe that music is an intrinsic part of being human. Music regardless of your religious affiliation has the power to cause people to feel and emotionally connect with something larger than themselves. He goes on to say “my relationship to the music is, in the most fundamental sense, the same as a religious relationship to the real world.” This quote displays how music helps people interact with the world through music and how it can change a person’s perspective. The author of the article asks the readers if they respond to music in the same way. Personally, listening to music can be a religious experience for me and I get more than a superficial connection to the world when I listen to particular music. I don’t think I could name a specific type but it is highly dependent on my mood. Certain songs so accurately sum up how I feel and I connect to the music in a way I didn’t think was possible. This is especially true when I am sad or very emotional. Does anyone else feel the same way about music? If so, what type of music makes you feel this connection or awe?

Musical Ties

After reading about ethnographers and how they studied music in other cultures I was curious and so I looked up articles to give me another perspective on the subject. The article can be found at the link: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/restoring-thai-musical-instruments-strengthens-ties-between-ucla-and-community

The article highlights the importance of world music and learning about other cultures. When reading the article, it moved me how much time and effort that Adler spent on restoring the instruments. Not only was the intention beautiful but the responses from the students and the Thai Music Foundation in Bangkok were inspirational and really hit home the significance behind musical exploration of other cultures. Bohlman mentions in his book how every society has a form of music so music is one way of universally connecting with another culture/people. From the way the article presented the impacts of this endeavor there will be long lasting impacts and appreciation for the Thai community. Sometimes in class, I feel like the ethnographers have a futile role in trying to understand another culture.  Such as in the Sardinian Chronicles when Lortat-Jacob was viewed as an outsider but this article proves to me that it is worth it to study another culture musically. It is was helpful for me to see a real world example of how what we are learning in class does apply to the real world. It gives me a greater understanding and appreciation for the concepts we are learning even if they are confusing and biased sometimes.

Music and Culture

My post is based off of the following article that I read: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music/brooklyn-afropunk-festival-music-culture-change-article-1.2768338

The biggest take away that I got from reading The Sardinian Chronicles is that music is very much influenced by the culture and the community it is in. The ethnographer went from city to city and in every city the music was unique to the people and the atmosphere of the city even though it all fell under the category of Sardinian music. One of the most interesting chapters was on the bridge and how the music the people played when congregating was a political statement and message. The Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn mimics this concept as the music festival in itself is a movement. Music like other art forms has the amazing ability to rally and unite people under a common theme. I think this is shown in the book we read and is an important topic in world music as they helps to categorize music. This ties into thick description because there is an intention behind the music and the festival that allows for the study of the event and the music. One performer at the festival described the music as “a break from the overproduced side of music and “populist pop.” Hearing the insight into the reason and ideas behind the music help ethnographers to study and interpret music. I thought that the article was a fascinating example of the power of music in culture today as well as how music is studied and seen in a modern light especially compared to The Sardinian Chronicles and how music was interpreted and what it stood for in another time and region of the world. The article also touched on the importance of dance and how it connects to music. I think that would be an interesting reaction to music around the world that would be explored.

Musically Incompetent

Hello my name is Gaby Soden and I am from Charlotte, NC! My parents tried to introduce me to music and instruments from a young age despite the fact that no one in my immediate or extended family is musically gifted in the slightest. My parents tried to get me into the guitar, piano and the flute and no matter how many lessons I got or how hard I tried to practice I never clicked with any instrument. I like listening to music but I could never play,  read or understand music was a foreign language to me. Learning about and understanding music never ceases to frustrate me thus I have never pushed myself to study music. I’m hoping through this class I can obtain a better appreciation for music in the least painful way possible.

My favorite thing about music that ties into what type of music I like to enjoy is the fact that music can make you feel a certain way and the same song can cause different people to feel many different things. This can be frustrating at times as music is so subjective. I have never met anyone who only likes one specific type of music as different moods make me (and others) want to listen to different styles and genres of music. If I am working out I like to listen to anything with a fast tempo and catchy lyrics while if I am sad I want something slow and deeper sounding. One specific band I think it is neccessary to mention when describing my musical interest is Echospace. The link to their website and music is as follows: http://echospacedetroit.bandcamp.com/music

This is the only music I can possibly listen to when I study or want to relax. I first heard of the band last year when my Theory of Knowledge teacher played nothing else during class. I like how it doesn’t have lyrics and the airy, light quality that all of their songs seem to have. If anyone needs music to study to I highly recommend checking out their website.