Music: Its Language, History, and Culture

(6 reviews)


Douglas Cohen, CUNY Brooklyn College

Pub Date: 2015

ISBN 13:

Publisher: CUNY Academic Works

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Reviewed by Michelle Lucia-Ingle, Music Instructor, Northland Community and Technical College, on 8/3/2018.

The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject, but because of the enormity of the subject, each area is shortened. The entire book is only 110 … read more



Reviewed by Jeffery Hutchins, Artist/Teacher, Virginia Tech, on 5/22/2018.

This book aims to be quite comprehensive but is far too broad and general in its scope, with quite shallow chapters and arduous lists. While it was … read more



Reviewed by Dorothy Bryant, Associate Professor, Ohio University, on 2/2/2018.

Covering music history requires a subjective selection of artifacts that represent the time period, genres, cultural context and significant … read more



Reviewed by Christopher Witulski, Instructor of Ethnomusicology, Bowling Green State University, on 2/2/2018.

Deciding what goes into a music history class or textbook is a great struggle. This book is a cursory approach to many topics and, at roughly 100 … read more



Reviewed by Lew (Lewton) Jones, PT Faculty, Portland Community College, on 6/21/2017.

This book is a timeline of terminology, historical facts, and music genres. It reads like several books albeit four authors. By the time the glossary … read more



Reviewed by Alice Clark, Professor of Music History, Loyola University New Orleans, on 6/21/2017.

The title and table of contents of this book appear to be comprehensive, but much of the contents are far too abbreviated to fulfill that goal. It … read more


Table of Contents

  • Introduction 
  • Chapter 1: Elements of Sound and Music 
  • Chapter 2: Musical Instruments and Ensembles 
  • Chapter 3: Composer, Performer, Audience
  • Chapter 4: European Art Music: Middle Ages through Romantic 
  • Chapter 5: European and American Art Music since 1900 
  • Chapter 6: American Vernacular Music
  • Chapter 7: Jazz 
  • Chapter 8: World Music 
  • Appendix 1: Musician Biographies
  • Appendix 2: Glossary 

About the Book

Welcome to Music 1300, Music: Its Language History, and Culture. The course has a number of interrelated objectives:
1. To introduce you to works representative of a variety of music traditions. These include the repertoires of Western Europe from the Middle Ages through the present; of the United States, including art music, jazz, folk, rock, musical theater; and from at least two non-Western world areas (Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Indian subcontinent).
2. To enable you to speak and write about the features of the music you study, employing vocabulary and concepts of melody, rhythm, harmony, texture, timbre, and form used by musicians.
3. To explore with you the historic, social, and cultural contexts and the role of class, ethnicity, and gender in the creation and performance of music, including practices of improvisation and the implications of oral and notated transmission.
4. To acquaint you with the sources of musical sounds—instruments and voices from different cultures, found sounds, electronically generated sounds; basic principles that determine pitch and timbre.
5. To examine the influence of technology, mass media, globalization, and transnational currents on the music of today.
The chapters in this reader contain definitions and explanations of musical terms and concepts, short essays on subjects related to music as a creative performing art, biographical sketches of major figures in music, and historical and cultural background information on music from different periods and places.

About the Contributors


Douglas Cohen is an intermedia composer and often collaborator with film, performance and folk artists. He was an early advocate for digital media on the Internet. He organized the NewMusNet Conference of Arts Wire with Pauline Oliveros and later was arts wire systems coordinator.

Cohen is a specialist in American experimental music and pays particular attention to the work of John Cage, Morton Feldman and Pauline Oliveros. He co-created and produced the evening=length intermedia work imusicircus at Experimental Intermedia in New York and LACE Gallery in Los Angeles (later with the California EAR Unit at the L.A. County Museum of Art) as City Circus events for the John Cage exhibition Rolywholyover a Circus.

He received a bachelor of fine arts and a master of fine arts from the California Institute of the Arts, and a doctorate from the State University of New York at Buffalo.