Listen to the world. Explore music from around the globe. Acquaint yourself with a variety of international music styles and traditions. Investigate issues in popular music from both a social perspective (such as race, religion, language, economics, gender, diaspora, and politics), as well as an intrinsically musical position (beat, pitch, meter, rhythm, form, timbre, texture). Learn about how music reinforces values and negotiates tradition with innovation; how rural and urban contexts inform musical experiences; how soundscapes shape identity. Learn how to collect sounds and ask questions: what is this instrument’s name, how is it played and built; who plays it, why, and for whom? Why do all civilizations sing, play, and perform music? Like storytelling, like transcendence, spirituality, and religion, like politics and societal hierarchies shaped by taste, music is an intrinsic part of humanness. So, listen to world.
This book provides a very concise introduction to a selected number of musical traditions including Africa, the Arab World, India, and China. Mostly based on the author’s experience teaching listening skills and music appreciation to non-music majors, it is intended as a roadmap for a sixteen-week undergraduate course, an outline that can be expanded upon. It includes two large sections: the first one covers summarily four regions (Africa, the Arab World, India, and China); the second section covers the same material, but transversally or by topic, not by region (see table of contents). Each instructor can choose if the regional approach or the transversal approach is better suited for his or her class. As a matter of fact in this author’s experience the same material can be covered in the semester twice: first geographically (Africa, the Arab World, India, etc.); and then by topics (pitch, timbre, genres, etc.) thus reinforcing material learned earlier in the course. Additionally, I present some topics, but perhaps many more need to added. For example, in the section Issues, I cover “Censorship” and “Gender and Sexuality,” but each instructor should not only amplify these issues, but add new ones that are appropriate to each class, for example “diaspora,” “protest music” or “social inequality.” Additionally, each instructor can select his or her play list from the available online sources. It seems redundant and also unnecessary to offer a cannon of tracks to be learned.
A note on accessibility: This textbook has been written with accessibility in mind. Instructors can upload the whole text to online learning systems, such as Blackboard, Canvas, and Google Classroom. The book can be downloaded in multiple formats including PDF and EPUB files. It can also be accessed through text-to-speech readers provided through your learning institutions or other common text to speech tools, such as Read Aloud and Dragon. All videos have subtitles/closed captioning.