Sample Music Essays on Music and culture

Sample Music Essays on Music and culture

Have you ever thought about how awesome music is? The joy of performing and listening to music forms a universal language that connects people across cultures and across time. There are different genres of music being played all over the world.  I have been fortunate enough to attend some amazing concerts with my friends during the summer vacation which have enabled me enjoy, learn and experience different types of music. Aside from that, the internet via YouTube provides a broader platform with loads of music to choose from. Furthermore, my knowledge of the Latin language has empowered me to comprehend the message behind the music thus understanding the relationship between culture and music. Culture is the lifeblood of a vibrant society, expressed in the many ways we tell our music. Some countries use music to spread its culture with Russia being a prime example.

My latest research led me to an Afro- Cuban jazz musician named Mario Bauza. He is one of the pioneers to bring Latin music to the United States through Cuban musical styles. Bauza started playing music at a relatively tender age.  People had started labeling him as a classical musician and by the age of fifteen he had already travelled to the United States for his first ever recording. He also featured in an orchestra as a clarinetist with Antonio Maria Romeau. By 1933, Mario Bauza was the lead trumpeter of the Chick Webb orchestra. His widespread influence and contribution to music led him to be promoted to the post of director where he had the opportunity to mentor renowned musical performers such as Dizzy Gillespie. Even though he has had the privilege of working with some of the best musicians, it was with family that he found major success. Together with his brother in law Machete who was the vocalist of the orchestra, they started the Afro Cuban rhythms fused to sound like jazz in 1939. The orchestra was able to get audience with relative ease since Bauza was already a known name in music.

Music is an important representation of culture. It can be composed and performed to influence the society either positively or negatively. Artists have the moral obligation to teach and promote positive vibes to the people. Music is bound to be played whenever there is an occasion where people have gathered, be it at a funeral, wedding or a sports event.. Music is and was always part of the fabric of everyday life (This is your brain on Music, 2006). Music defines the moral stand of a community and it is a reflection of the present cultural practices and routines of any community. My experience with Latin music has enabled me to acquire more knowledge on the relationship it has with the culture of the people. The La Plena music is a genre used to communicate a wide range of themes, which include general teachings, pledges, and love. All these features describe the culture of the Afro-Caribbean. Some artists incorporate their daily experiences into their music as a form of narration to tell the story. “El periodicocantado” or “the sung newspaper” is a Puerto Rican musical genre which enables artists convey their daily life experiences through music. The lyrics of most Latin music usually address a topic concerning the local community and incorporate the use of vernacular themes to convey the message. This is a standard feature of Latin music. Their pieces usually talk about the Afro-Puerto Rican experience through the Plena music, which formerly used to be marginalized. The La Plena genre of music which publicizes “the centrality of the black experience” resulted in a kind of racial revolution.

Music is an influential tool in determining the cultural direction of a people. It is important in conserving the culture of the people and it is an embodiment of the beliefs of the society it serves since it is a form of expression that the artists of a given jurisdiction utilize to bring to life what they are about substantively (Kevin Bartig 609-626). In Russia, Music has been influential in determining the cultural direction of its people. Artists have been able to compose and perform their music to capture the essence of what the Country is about contextually by highlighting the major themes that have been definitive in shaping Russia through each chronological stage (Kevin Bartig 609-626). Additionally, there were religious compositions which infused choral verses in its writings which later led to the development of a version which utilizes flutes, trumpets, tambourines and stringed musical tools to enhance the performances thereby providing entertainment.  The art of performance was through skilled individuals known as Skomorokhs who were able to recount historical events and Russian folklore, effectively preserving and portraying the culture of the country (Kevin Bartig 609-626). The classical period was followed by a period where Christianity reigned supreme. This led to the emergence of liturgical compositions. Renowned musical artists such as Pytor Tchaikovsky and Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka contributed in composing classical songs that capture the historical culture of Russia around the 19th century (Ronver 72-77). Artistic musical compositions such as “Life of the Tsar” and “Ruslan and Lyudmila” have withstood the test of time and are ageless representations of the culture of Russia. These works have seen Russian music attain a firm anchoring on the folk fore of the past (Pines 310-313). In the moiré recent times, contemporary acts such as Alexander Scriabin and Vladimir Sofronitsky have emerged to continue with the work of preserving the culture and history while also presenting it to the modern audience.

I once had the privilege of attending a concert headlined by David Bowie who was performing the highly acclaimed album titled “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”. From the live performance, I noted the visual presentation and stagecraft which he incorporated into his performances has significantly influenced popular music. The choreography and mellow lyrics of the album matched well with the artistry used to create the stage. The raw passion and art of storytelling captured my attention as well as that of the audience. This was one of the best live performances I have attended. Bowie is a singer and songwriter whose innovation and creativity has endeared him to worldwide audiences. The visual presentation and stagecraft that he incorporated into his performances has significantly influenced popular music. Clearly, there is a relation between music and culture. Music can be used to promote and nurture the culture of a society through various ways. Music can be composed to convey different messages and portray various issues affecting the society.

Works Cited

Manuel, Peter. “Puerto Rican music and cultural identity: Creative appropriation of Cuban sources from danza to salsa.” Ethnomusicology 38.2 (1994): 249-280.

Kevin Bartig. “Rethinking Russian Music: Institutions, Nationalism, And Untold Histories.” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 11.3 (2010): 609-626. Web.

Rovner, Anton A. “Contemporary Music In Odessa: The Festival “Two Days And Two Nights Of New Music” In April 2017.” Music Scholarship / ProblemyMuzykal’nojNauki 2 (2017): 72-77. Web.

Manuel, Peter. Popular musics of the non-Western world: An introductory survey. Oxford University Press on Demand, 1988.

Gloria, Ochoa. (2015). New York Times: Afro-Cuban Jazz .NewYorkTimes. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/realestate/rego-park-queens-finding-value-a-melting-pot.html. Accessed 13