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May 21st, 2009
Music and Evolution
The Elitism of Music in the West
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Stephen Mithen: Our conception of music in the West can be rather narrow. I think in the West it got tied up with expertise, Who does music? It’s somebody who stands on a stage and performs to others. It’s something that is done on special occasions. If you look at traditional societies they remind us that music is something that just pervades everyday of every person’s life. You know, kids just singing and dancing right from scratch. It’s just what you do. It’s not something you do on a special occasion, it’s not even something that you have to be trained for. You do it when you work, you do it when you play. Now that doesn’t mean they don’t have expertise, they don’t have special performers and people who got particular talents, but it’s something that pervades everything they do. And that reminds us that music isn’t a special elite form of activity.

  • Larry Heilman

    Taking something away from the masses and making it a form of Elitism is something that happens a lot in western culture. Often to enhance the rewards of the elitist who now performs. And others can gain rewards (money?) by teaching others how to become part of the elite. I have worked some with recent gradutes in music (from University) and much of their concerns deal with how to make the most money not always how to make the best music from a more purist viewpoint. I am trying to find new forms of music, and wether it is popular or can be financially rewarding is not part of my concerns. So far I haven’t found this in the music school grads that I have worked with.

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