Music, Society, Education (Music Culture) Review

Music, Society, Education (Music Culture)
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Music, Society, Education (Music Culture) ReviewSpeaking as a practising creative musician, I would say that no other book has had such a profound effect on me. I've re-read it several times.
Two of Christopher Small's many excellent points particularly struck me: 1) the glories of Western classical music (and I love Beethoven as much as the next fella) shouldn't blind us to the fact that it is but a tiny strand of the awe-inspiring diversity of humanity's music, and 2) much of our listening experience in the West takes the form of passive consumption of musical product, whereas for the great bulk of the world's peoples (in traditional societies, at least) music is about participation and the process of making music, rather than the end product.
First published in 1976 ( I believe- don't have my copy handy to verify this) I feel Small's appraisal of the entirety of music of the world, and the unjustifiably exalted place that Western classical music holds in the mind of the general public (not just in the West, either) was way ahead of its time. Keep in mind that he was writing well before the explosion of interest in so-called "world music" that we saw in the 1980s.
Small's treatment of the concepts of process versus product in music performance opened my eyes in ways that still resonate for me, two decades after first reading this book.
I said earlier that I've re-read it several times; to be more precise that was a while ago now, and I hadn't actually read it for ten or more years. When I recently did, I was particularly struck by Small's idealism, something that many in today's cynical times might scoff at, to which I simply say that now more than ever they could do with a good dose of such idealism.
Do check out "Musicking" and "Music of the Common Tongue", both also excellent (in fact I think "Musicking" may be his greatest book) but start with this one.Music, Society, Education (Music Culture) OverviewCited by Soundpostas "remarkable and revolutionary" upon its publication in 1977, Music, Society, Educationhas 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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