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Music & Ritual


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Music & Society Music & Ritual

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Music & Ritual

  1. 1. Music & Society Music & Chris Baker
  2. 2. Music and Ritual DefinitionA ritual is a set of actions, often thought to have symbolicvalue, the performance of which is usually prescribed a religion or by the traditions of a community by religious or political laws because of the perceived efficacy of those actions
  3. 3. Music & Ritual ExamplesVarious worship rites, rites of passage, oaths of allegiance,coronations, presidential inaugurations, marriages and funerals,graduations, club meetings, sports events, Halloween parties,Christmas shopping and more
  4. 4. Music & Society Other RitualsMany activities performed for concrete purposes eg jury trials,execution of criminals, are loaded with purely symbolic actionsprescribed by regulations or tradition, and are partly ritualistic innatureEven common actions like hand-shaking and saying hello arerituals
  5. 5. Music & Ritual Ritual Actions•Hardly any limits to the kind of actions•Typically involved special gestures and words•Recitation of fixed texts•Performance of special music, songs or dances•Processions, manipulation of certain objects•Consumption of special food•Consumption of drink•Consumption of drugs such as Ganja, Peyote & Ayahuasca
  6. 6. Music & Ritual PurposeRitual serves diverse purposes including but not limited to:• Worship• Purification (with the aim of removing uncleanliness, which may be real or symbolic)• Atonement• Dedication• Education
  7. 7. Music & Ritual Religious• Often used in context with worship performed in a church• Ritual(s) can vary considerably• Organized religion• Non-institutionalized spirituality (shamanism)• Rituals often have a connection with reverence (express reverence for a deity or idealized state of humanity)
  8. 8. Traditional Musics Compared with WesternIdeas About Music• The term “music” does not mean the same thing in all cultures• Most societies have no concept or word for “music” in a Western sense• Participating in music is universal in humans• Human sound communication outside the scope of spoken language, exists in all known human societies• Music has observable effects on its makers and listeners
  9. 9. Music & Society Traditional Music• Musics in traditional societies of Africa, Oceania, Australia, North and South America, and Asia sound very different from one another• Nonetheless, they share certain characteristics and behavior that, in some respects at least, differentiate them from present-day ideas about Western music
  10. 10. Music & Society Western Music• Modern Western Music typically formalized melodic & rhythmic sounds produced by the human voice & instruments• In small-scale societies music (melodic vocalizing or drumming) may well be categorized differently• Music the Kaluli of Papua New Guinea, sounds like “humanly organized sound,” is regarded by its makers as a variety of sounds shared by nature and animals such as rain, waterfalls, crickets, and birds, as well as humans
  11. 11. Music & Society Emotion• Music has “emotional” effects on participants, not always easy to explain• Ritual is important for passing on information and group tradition• Essential in human societies for 99.9% their history• Rituals accomplish these purposes by shaping and creating appropriate feelings• They maintain and transmit from one generation to another confidence, pride, joyfulness, well-being, resolve, release, and unification
  12. 12. Social Functions of Ritual MusicDisplay of resources•Male strength and vigor as in the Suya of Brazil•Male or Female beauty and skill, as in the East Asian Hmong•Demonstrate prestige and power, as in the Pacific NorthwestCoast Makah•Displayed within the group, or shown to a neighboring group•Parallels in the animal world•To gain or solidify prestige and power and to acquire mates
  13. 13. Social Functions of Ritual MusicFacilitation of courtship•Like Animals Humans have developed rituals to assesscompatibility•Hmong males and females sing improvised courtship songswhile under the scrutiny of family, friends, and outsiders•A courting couple may interact by playing instruments ormoving to music as a substitute for lovemaking
  14. 14. Social Functions of Ritual MusicFacilitation of courtship cont•In the Medlpa of highland New Guinea, beautifully-adornedcouples sit side by side and sway their bodies toward and awayfrom each other, while moving their heads in parallel, to abackground of adults’ singing•Music allows lovers to “say things” that might otherwise beawkward and embarrassing
  15. 15. Social Functions of Ritual MusicRites of passage•Occur at points of life transitions e.g., birth, puberty, marriage,death•Important in many species•Human rites of passage such as that of child, adolescent, adult,marriageable or married person, parent, warrior, widow,member of this or that subgroup•Mescalero Apache girls in North America are transformed intothe female deity and literally “sung” into womanhood
  16. 16. Social Functions of Ritual MusicRelief from anxiety and psychological pain•To heal illness or resolve dissent•To provide ‘escape’ from oppression•To mourn the dead•Ritual expression of individual emotion that is usually repressede.g. in the Bedouin and Thule Eskimo/Inuit•Provide relief, release, and refuge during troubled times e.g.Greek women and Karelian women in ritualized lament•Provide safe passage of the deceased person’s spirit•Outlet for individual pain, fear, grief and anger
  17. 17. Social Functions of Ritual MusicPromotion of group cooperation and prosperity•Ceremonies that entertain and celebrate and express feelingsof pleasure and well-being, cheerfulness, and fellowship•All rituals serve to maintain the wellbeing of the society and itsindividuals•Ceremonies that incite a group to hate or attack another grouppromote cohesion and cooperation among participants•Cooperative rituals are integral to a thriving society
  18. 18. Social Functions of Ritual MusicControl and channeling of individual aggression•Some rituals It may be perceived as more or less “aggressive”•Maring ritual is similar to an animalistic ritualized territorialdisplay•Eskimo song duels (nith songs) and taunts, serve as rituallyacceptable ways of resolving a grudge or dispute
  19. 19. Music & Ritual Music TodayModern Music•Western classical music and jazz has developed over the pasttwo centuries in an aesthetic or “high art” tradition•Music is considered “for its own sake” & listened to with fullattention in special settings, or on recordings in the home•Music today is mainly removed from its original roles•Different from music in traditional societies•Possible to detect ties to its initial roots