Music: Its Language, History, and Culture

Reviewed by Austin Okigbo, Associate Professor, CU Boulder on 7/1/19

Comprehensiveness rating: 3

Ideas of the subject are covered, albeit without enough on non-western cultures. The text may be useful for introduction to musical styles and ideas, but not for world music.

Content Accuracy rating: 3

Although the title of the text bespeaks of the general ideas about music, it privileged music of Western Europe and the United States. Information on other non-western music are scanty, and often did not add to knew knowledge about those other cultures.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 3

The content is mostly direct, and simple. I would say accurate in regards to American and Western European traditions. However, the author relied on old information that are erroneous with regards to African music. E.g. "Western idea of sitting silently while a performance is taking place is an anathema to these traditions." This is a misleading sweeping statement about music in West Africa.

Clarity rating: 4

It serves well for a high school introduction to musical styles and ideas; I am not so sure it fits as a college textbook.

Consistency rating: 4

The text is clear enough and used simple language.

Modularity rating: 4

The text is easy to adapt.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4

They are logical enough and clear.

Interface rating: 5

Images and diagrams are original and clear.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

No grammatical errors noted.

Cultural Relevance rating: 3

The text is neutral at least overtly on cultural sensitivities, however, the use of sweeping and biased statements that are based on old ethnomusicolgical conjectures such as that Africans privilege rhythm over melody and harmony where the reverse is the case in the west shows lack of understanding on the history of racial ideology that informed that claim when Eric von Hornbostel first stated in early 20th century.

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