Read more about Music: Its Language, History, and Culture

Music: Its Language, History, and Culture

(17 reviews)

Douglas Cohen, CUNY Brooklyn College

Copyright Year: 2015

ISBN 13: 9780991388707

Publisher: CUNY Academic Works

Language: English

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Reviewed by James Reddan, Associate Professor, Western Oregon University on 6/9/21

In terms of comprehensiveness, this text is comprehensive by way of the appropriate topics to be covered in a semester or quarter-long survey course in music history and appreciation. However, the chapters are not comprehensive and leave out a... read more

Reviewed by Jeff Kowalkowski, instructor, Northeastern Illinois University on 5/12/21

I would recommend this book for Musical Experience classes. read more

Reviewed by Heeseung Lee, Adjunct Professor, University of Northern Colorado on 5/11/21

This text attempts to cover a wide range of music-historical areas, from European art music, through America’s folk, popular, and classical, to world music. As a strength, it provides brief outlines for all these areas within 60 pages, with an... read more

Reviewed by Elizabeth Macy, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, Metropolitan State University of Denver on 9/4/20

The overall text provides very basic, introductory context for an introduction to music. The goals are broad and comprehensive, but the actual breadth feels limited (and the text is quite short). Some of the sections are more comprehensive than... read more

Reviewed by Paul Dube, Adjunct Faculty Visual and Media Arts, Bunker Hill Community College on 6/10/20

Music: Its Language, History, and Culture provides a comprehensive review of the development of musical genres through the ages from early periods through the classical, baroque, romantic, folk, jazz and hip hop eras with historical references in... read more

Reviewed by Jonathan Harvey, Assistant Professor, Fitchburg State University on 6/1/20

It is difficult to assess the comprehensiveness of this text as a whole, because it seems to be four differently-functioning texts that were later compiled. The first three chapters are quite thorough, although one could quibble about categories... read more

Reviewed by Christopher Cook, Lecturer in Music, Oakland City University on 1/29/20

The book is fairly comprehensive, but its length is relatively short. This keeps the text from diving too deep into any one topic well enough to be considered comprehensive. read more

Reviewed by Tony Oliver, Associate Professor, Augustana College on 7/31/19

The goals for the text, as stated in the introduction and implied by the table of contents, are comprehensive and ambitious for an appreciation-type text; however, at only 64 pages for the main body of the text, and with very few examples, the... read more

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

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. read more

Reviewed by Cynthia Blough-Retana, Lecturer in Music, Oakland City University on 1/9/19

The text covers all areas of the subject, but not in as much detail as I would want in a primary course text. I do, however, think this text would provide enough material to be used as a secondary reference text. read more

Reviewed by Dawn Farmer, Assistant Professor, Augustana College on 11/9/18

With a title including the words "language, history, and culture," one might expect to have the text focus on those points. With this text, however, the authors fail to adequately address that content. For example, there are only two paragraphs on... read more

Reviewed by Michelle Lucia-Ingle, Music Instructor, Northland Community and Technical College on 8/2/18

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 pages of a survey of music, including classical, American vernacular, jazz and world music.There... read more

Reviewed by Jeffery Hutchins, Artist/Teacher, Virginia Tech on 5/21/18

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 designed for a specific course, it would difficult to use this text in another setting as is and... read more

Reviewed by Dorothy Bryant, Associate Professor, Ohio University on 2/1/18

Covering music history requires a subjective selection of artifacts that represent the time period, genres, cultural context and significant composers and performers. This collection of essays is not comprehensive but does touch upon the stated... read more

Reviewed by Christopher Witulski, Instructor of Ethnomusicology, Bowling Green State University on 2/1/18

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 pages, could serve as a starting point for a music appreciation course. The chapters on musical... read more

Reviewed by Alice Clark, Professor of Music History, Loyola University New Orleans on 6/20/17

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 might well be able to write a book of this type in just over 100 pages (really only 64 if the... read more

Reviewed by Lew (Lewton) Jones, PT Faculty, Portland Community College on 6/20/17

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 shows up the reader has traveled through different periods such as The Renaissance, The Baroque... 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

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  • About the Book

    Welcome to Music 1300, Music: Its Language History, and Culture. The course has a numberof 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 Agesthrough 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 andnotated transmission.4. To acquaint you with the sources of musical sounds—instruments and voices fromdifferent cultures, found sounds, electronically generated sounds; basic principlesthat determine pitch and timbre.5. To examine the influence of technology, mass media, globalization, and transnationalcurrents 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 sketchesof major figures in music, and historical and cultural background information on music fromdifferent 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.

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