Passing Music on From Generation to Generation in Different Societies Cultures Essay

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Passing Music on From Generation to Generation in Different Societies

The musical traditions of a culture are a major force in that culture's expression, or in some cases, lack thereof. Music is a defining element of culture, which develops steadily as the culture which produces it changes as well. The passing down of music from generation to generation is a multi-faceted practice. Not only do cultural traditions pass down from generation to generation, but they are also mediated with relationships to other cultures. Some of this external influence filters in unknowingly through the increased influence of that external culture from generation to generation, as seen in the case of Islamic forces in northern Indian music. Other external influences can be consciously adopted, making their transition into the cultural heritage of a society much faster based on the conscious decision to adapt them, as seen in the musical traditions of China when prior ancient cultural traditions were lost.

A prime example of the synergy between internal and external propagation of cultural influences within the context of music through the generations is that of musical traditions stemming from India. Indian music is typically split between two dominant forces; the Southern traditions still hanging on to traditional Hindu influences, and the Northern musical traditions that have adopted external Islamic influences. The South of India is primarily dominated by Hindu cultures and practices; therefore its musical heritage also reflects that Hindu domination (Nueman 1985). Thus, Hindu music emanating from the Southern regions typically tends to be based on the themes associated with the very lively and expressive nature of honoring Hindu religious traditions. According to research, these musical traditions are "Often considered a means of self-realization and salvation rather than mere self-expression, this view of music as mode of enlightenment," (Nueman 1989:445). Music stemming from Southern influences tends to be less formally arranged and livelier in nature, showing the roots of a less formalized practice associated with Hindu traditions of cultural expression. Many of these traditions have remained pure to their Hindi roots, and avoided the transmission of Islamic influences coming from the North East from areas like the Persian Empire. Karnatak music is free from Islamic influences (Nueman 1985). The Brahmanic tradition stems from innately Hindu forces. The Brahmanic tradition dominated both North and South until the 16th century, where the North was later more influenced by Turkish traditions. In this more native Indian tradition, one would typically practice music for its aesthetic nature and illumination, not for more professional purposes of remuneration (Nueman 1985). Thus, the South refused to teach professional musicians in professional schools. Therefore, its musicians were typically made up of informal and non-professional Brahmans and nobility who practiced music on their own as an avocation (Nueman 1985). Thus, there is little written musical history, which has allowed the Hindu musical traditional to vary greatly between generations, and is fluid. Modern Karnatak music- more emphasis on performance rather than composition (Nueman 1989). This is a primary example of how internal cultural practices developed from generation to generation separate from external Islamic influences. However, not all Hindi music is completely devoid of Islamic influences. For example, Hindustani music was created out of a combination between Hindu and Islamic influences (Nueman 1985). This style holds on tightly to internal Hindu traditions, but shows the progressive incorporation of external influences that would later dominate much of the region's Northern musical practice. In Hindustani musical tradition, much of the music based on memory than a written composition. Thus, in this style there is also lots of improvisation.

This is a testament to the lack of formal written structure seen in traditional Hindu musical traditions stemming from inside India.

Yet, much of India succumbed to incorporating external Islamic influences within its musical traditions, thus morphing such traditions as they passed from one generation t the next. According to research, "Islamization of music patronage and production generated cultural adaptations through biological kinship, specialist vocalization, and performance context, which fundamentally affected musical performance itself," (Nueman 1985:99). The influence of Islam stemmed from the North East, coming from areas like Turkey and the Persian Empire and stems back from the 13th century (Nueman 1989). But he North really felt the impact Islamic influences on its musical traditions around the 17th and 18th centuries. Islamic musical traditions have proven to be more formal and restricting than the fluidity expressed in traditional Hindu music; "Persian music has always been performed in very restricted and closed circles," (During 1982:78). This formality spread through the influence of Islamic traditions and then morphed the passing of musical traditions. Islamic influences also introduced the popularity of new instruments, and use the sitar or sarod (Nueman 1989). It features autonomous time keepers, condensed compositions, and theory influenced by cultural lineage is all Indian traditions based on Islamic influences. Many Hindu musicians actually converted to Islam based on the political charge of the 18th & 19th centuries. One new addition was that Islam allowed a new marriage system which ensured the transmission of musical traditions from generation to generation within specific cultural groups inside of a larger society. Since Hindu traditions did not place much weight on professionalism in its musical traditions, the professional musicians in the North tended to be Islamic. Northern musicians worked in courts of performers and were paid regular wages to perform. Stylistic schools, known as "gharana," helped then carry down the traditions of Islamic influenced music through a more formal musical tradition (Nueman 1985). They were based in smaller ancestral towns, and their structure heavily depended on the ancestral lineage of the male performers. Thus, these styles were based on familial and village cultural traditions that differed from location to location. Thus, a new cultural influence was adapted and incorporated into how music is handed down from the generations in Northern India.

China saw a forced implementation of change within the way its musical traditions were passed on. Instrumental music can be dated back in China as far back as 2000 B.C.E. (Yu Run 1991). In the earliest traditions of Chinese music, conservative music that was believed to help strengthen the state of the people and government was favored (Yu Run 1991). Music was inherently a major piece in ancient Chinese culture, and many musical instruments have been found buried in tombs with other priceless treasures. The Qin, an ancient seven string plucked instrument close to the zither, was a major piece of ancient Chinese music (Yu Run 1991). Also the Pipa, which was passed on from Indian traditions early on in Chinese history (Wong 2000). This adoption of the Pipa from India is almost foreshadowing for he dominance of external influences that would later come to represent modern Chinese music. However, most ancient Chinese musical traditions and pieces have been lost to history, based on a failure to pass down specific traditions seen around the Tang dynasty (Yu Run 1991). Lack of professional musicians made it hard to formally hand down set traditions, and most were lost, but a few remaining qin pieces still remain: Secluded Orchid, Cheerful Chat Between Deity and Man, and A Drunken Fisher Chants at Dusk among others (Yu Run 1991).

The dominance of external influences came into play to fill the void of musical tradition in contemporary China. Music once again emerged from China in the Twentieth Century, after generations of little musical tradition. Cai Yuan-pei founded the first music school in 1927, Shanghai School for Music (Yu Run 1991). Many European and Russian musicians were recruited to teach based on a lack of qualified Chinese professional musicians (Yu Run 1991). This brought external classical traditions with them. Thus, the adoption of a foreign music tradition filled the void, and allowed a rich cultural tradition to return to the generations in China. Another popular external… [END OF PREVIEW]

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