The title of this course is Non-western music NOT World music (even though our textbook uses the term world music in its title). That’s an important distinction. While music of western European/ North American origin is obviously still part of the world it’s common for westerners to use the term World Music to mean anything other than what they’re familiar with. Coupled with that is the fact that a major identifying component of many Non-western societies is that they often don’t have a rigorous art music (formal concert) tradition. The music is often improvised and music making is thought of more as having a functional/utilitarian role in everyday life.
So, when the term “World Music” is used to refer to “that with which I am not familiar”, there seems to be the implication (whether intended or not) that World Music = Non-Western music and that non-Western music is somehow of lesser merit by comparison.
My questions to you are: (Remember to respond fully to BOTH points)
1.I 1) Is it important to make this distinction between non-Western as opposed to World music? Do words matter or is it just political correctness? (I don’t care if you agree or disagree with the statement but remember, no matter what position you take on the matter, you must clearly and fully explain WHY you think the way that you do.)
2. 2) Is improvised and/or utilitarian music somehow less artistically worthy than art/concert music? Why or why not?
Keep in mind that improvised and utilitarian do not mean the same thing. Improvised means music composed on the spot/in the moment by a group or an individual. Utilitarian refers to music that could be improvised but is mainly defined as being composed or performed for a specific purpose. i.e. Soundtrack music for film, music performed to ensure a good harvest, specific music performed at birthdays or weddings. (“concert music” for this question to be defined as what most would generally call “classical music”: Completely notated, non-improvised music utilizing acoustic instruments performed in a more formal setting. Sort of the opposite of music striving for commercial/populist appeal).