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Music, Society, Education

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A groundbreaking work expanding our view of music beyond the Western classical tradition. Cited by Soundpost as remarkable and revolutionary upon its publication in 1977, Music, Society, Education has become a classic in the study of music as a social force. Christopher Small sets out to examine the social implications of Western classical music, effects that until recently A groundbreaking work expanding our view of music beyond the Western classical tradition. Cited by Soundpost as remarkable and revolutionary upon its publication in 1977, Music, Society, Education has become a classic in the study of music as a social force. Christopher Small sets out to examine the social implications of Western classical music, effects that until recently have been largely ignored or dismissed by most musicologists. He strives to view the Western musical tradition through the mirror of these other musics [Balinese and African] as it were from the outside, and in so doing to learn something of the inner unspoken nature of Western culture as a whole. As series co-editor Robert Walser writes, By pointing to the complicity of Western culture with Western imperialism, Small challenges us to create a future that is more humane than the past. And by writing a book that enables us to rethink so fundamentally our involvements with music, he teaches us how we might get there.


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A groundbreaking work expanding our view of music beyond the Western classical tradition. Cited by Soundpost as remarkable and revolutionary upon its publication in 1977, Music, Society, Education has become a classic in the study of music as a social force. Christopher Small sets out to examine the social implications of Western classical music, effects that until recently A groundbreaking work expanding our view of music beyond the Western classical tradition. Cited by Soundpost as remarkable and revolutionary upon its publication in 1977, Music, Society, Education has become a classic in the study of music as a social force. Christopher Small sets out to examine the social implications of Western classical music, effects that until recently have been largely ignored or dismissed by most musicologists. He strives to view the Western musical tradition through the mirror of these other musics [Balinese and African] as it were from the outside, and in so doing to learn something of the inner unspoken nature of Western culture as a whole. As series co-editor Robert Walser writes, By pointing to the complicity of Western culture with Western imperialism, Small challenges us to create a future that is more humane than the past. And by writing a book that enables us to rethink so fundamentally our involvements with music, he teaches us how we might get there.

30 review for Music, Society, Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    John Blasko

    Small succinctly summarizes the place of music (and art in all forms) in Western society with the following statement: “We know more about the world, and experience it less, than perhaps any previous generation in history” (p. 5). As a culture, we have removed art from its societal function and put it on a pedestal as an aesthetic object to be admired from afar. In the west, art is the territory of professionals, while in other cultures music is a community activity. In many of these cultures, m Small succinctly summarizes the place of music (and art in all forms) in Western society with the following statement: “We know more about the world, and experience it less, than perhaps any previous generation in history” (p. 5). As a culture, we have removed art from its societal function and put it on a pedestal as an aesthetic object to be admired from afar. In the west, art is the territory of professionals, while in other cultures music is a community activity. In many of these cultures, music as a constantly evolving practice executed by “laymen” of all ages. Often, they do not value the masterworks of the past in the way that we do in the west. In these cultures, art thrives, while in ours, artistic organizations fight to scrape by. Small examines the scientific worldview has influences western cultural views art. This was a very interesting comparison, which at first may seemed like a stretch, but once Small worked out these ideas, it seemed to make sense. For me, as a music educator, the most engrossing part of this book was Small’s focus on music education. Basically, we need to look at the role of music in our culture and evaluate how this relates to our need to create and experience art. Afterward, look back at the education system. Often times we take music out of its context and strip it of any cultural meaning making it completely irrelevant for students (and even teachers). Rather than treating music education as we have for the past hundred years, we need to reexamine the way that we present music to our students. While one can argue about whether technology is affecting our relationship with music for better or for worse, one must accept the fact that this relationship is changing. Our artistic institutions seem reluctant to admit this, often to their detriment. What will the artistic landscape in the west look like 50 years in the future? Will the rift that we have created between the artist and the audience remain intact or break down? After reading Small’s account of music’s place in society, I cannot help but seriously consider these questions. These ideas have weighed heavily on my mind for quite a while, and Small’s book is a cogent call to reassess our relationship with art. I would recommend it for all who are steeped in the creation, performance, and institutionalization of art. Thoughts like this may help us better ourselves by regaining our humanistic connection to music and art.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    This book represented a huge paradigm shift for me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Phoenix2

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stéfano Troncaro

  5. 5 out of 5

    Asier

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nida

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Hawley

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julián Montaña-Rodríguez

  9. 5 out of 5

    Trashumancia Espacial

  10. 5 out of 5

    Κατερίνα Σταματίου

  11. 4 out of 5

    Κατερίνα Σταματίου

  12. 5 out of 5

    Athena Brd

  13. 5 out of 5

    ellia

  14. 5 out of 5

    Athena Brd

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ben Micklewright

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sam Mazzarella

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lynette Yetter

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dan Graser

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ματθαίος Δακουτρός

  20. 5 out of 5

    Colin Broom

  21. 5 out of 5

    Agapilouise

  22. 4 out of 5

    Harriet M.

  23. 4 out of 5

    James Rosenberg

  24. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Pisano

  25. 5 out of 5

    Louis Bergonzi

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paolo Cordone

  27. 4 out of 5

    Derek Boemler

  28. 4 out of 5

    Toby Sinkinson

  29. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Buell

  30. 5 out of 5

    Oriol Grèbol

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