Danlee Mitchell and
Jack Logan, Ph.D.
In the social dynamics of various World cultures, two general types of
behavioral traits may be observed. First, a cultural type exists that
is dominated by the forces of nature and the environment with the attendant
culture having a reverence for nature. Second, a cultural type exists
that dominates the forces of nature and the environment with the attendant
culture having low regard for nature. Both cultural personality traits
are influenced by religious, governmental and educational institutions
within the respective cultures.
A music of any particular World culture tends to be reflective of the
traits of the culture. If a culture is dominated by the forces of nature
and the environment its music may enjoy a static quality. If a culture
dominates the forces of nature and the environment its music may have
aspects of action and energy about it.
Western society was shaped by the ideas and institutions of Europe, the
Middle East, and Africa. All of these cultural forces merged in the West
during the Renaissance (1450-1600). Western society is a goal-oriented
society. Its languages, social institutions and artistic media reflect
an image of controlled and purposeful motion. This "purposeful motion
"created a dynamism seen clearly in the various historical styles of Western
music and also found in many non-Western musics. Beginning with compositional
styles that exist immediately before the Renaissance, Western music has
been characterized as a music of "purposeful syntax" -- a music planned
and designed to occupy space and time with controlled and goal-oriented
music of many World cultures is notated (written on paper) in a music
notation system so that the music may be performed again and
again. Some musics are transferred from one generation to another by a
rote tradition (memory). Styles of rote traditions in
music tend to change very gradually over long periods of time. Today,
many musics from rote tradition cultures have been converted into music
notation systems by music scholars.
Enjoyment and understanding
of most musics is not dependent upon the ability to read and interpret
written music notation. Reading music notation may lead to "deeper" areas
of musical awareness; however, notational literacy in not a pre-requisite
for an appreciation of any music.