Culture and Recorded Music

This is an imagined short discussion with Dr. Daws taking about culture and recorded music.

Dr. Daws: Culture shapes music by transmitting “content” through music.

Cindy:  What do you mean?

Dr. Daws: Well, culture is a broad concept and has many aspects, which consists of a part of our every day life. For example, our language is part of culture, so are religion, values, lifestyle, architecture, food, etc. When you listen to music, have you ever noticed any of those aspects in the music?

Cindy: I still remember when I first started learning English, I learned the “Alphabet” song and it helped me remember the English alphabet. It is much easier for a kid to learn how to sing a song than recite those Alphabet letters. Then,  when I was in high school while I was learning  Japanese, I found out that there is a “Hiragana” song (Japanese Alphabet Song) and it helped me to learn Japanese. Music sometimes makes learning a new language in an easier way, and creates an interesting environment for people to keep up learning.


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In addition, music makes people easier to start paying attention to a new culture or language. When “Gangnam Style” was popular, Korean pop culture also started catching people’s eyes and soon spread it around the world. People learned to dance “Gangnam Style” and that became a fad. Some people start asking the key words in the song and pick up a little bit of Korean at the same time. Thus, culture is transmitted through music by understanding new language and different cultural phenomenon.

Dr. Daws: Yes, language is one of the aspect. Can you think of other examples?

Cindy: I believe religion is another important aspect as well.  As for religion, culture is transmitted through music by sharing religious values.  Gospel music is a music genre especially created with religious purpose. Using an entertaining way to express Christian values to people, gospel music plays a critical role in putting religious values into music. For example, “Amazing Grace” is a widely known Christian song, implying the concepts of hope and redemption of Jesus Christ. I found out that the primary purpose of Christmas carols is religious. However, with a growing number of non-Christians, Christmas songs can be understood from a pure holiday’s perspective nowadays. Even though some Christmas songs were written for religious purposes,  those songs can not only express its meaning but also bring an atmosphere and the value of the holiday. No matter what religion a person belongs to, when “Silent Night” plays, people can picture a peaceful and harmonious Christmas eve in their mind. Thus, music serves as a cultural medium for the holidays. During the Spring festival in China, there are a lot of lighthearted and joyous holiday music playing through radios in cars, shopping malls or squares. People are so used to listen to those cheerful musical forms while shopping or traveling during the holiday times that listening to the holiday music becomes a habit and a necessary part of the holiday.




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