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Instructional Resources

Series Info

Episodes: 12

Length: 30 min.

Grade Levels:
11, 12, Professional Development

The Arts

Video on Demand
Teachers Guides
Web Resources


Exploring the World of Music

Gain an understanding of the basic elements of music with this series, an introduction to music with a global perspective. Exploring the World of Music shows how elements such as melody, rhythm, and texture create an infinite variety of sounds and serve as expressions of culture. Through rare archival footage and contemporary performances, the series presents themes such as music and the environment, music as cultural memory, and how technology changes music. The featured artists perform music from around the world, including American jazz, gospel, and rock, and traditional music from Bosnia, the Caribbean, India, Ireland, Japan, and West Africa.

Episode Guide

1. Sound, Music, and the Environment—What do different cultures mean by music? This program explores the definition of music from the sine wave to poetic metaphor, and the impact on the cultural.

2. The Transformative Power of Music—Music can inspire religious devotion, prepare individuals for war, motivate work, enrich play, and stimulate the passions.

3. Music and Memory—As a dynamic link to the past, music allows us to recall and revive our different cultural heritages through the performances we participate in now.

4. Transmission: Learning Music—How we learn musical traditions and how we maintain, modify, notate, teach, and perform them for a new, younger audience are exemplified here in Indian classical music, African village drumming, and modern jazz and gospel.

5. Rhythm—Marking time and moving through our bodies, rhythm has a special relationship to both musical form and worldwide dance traditions.

6. Melody—Melody — the part of music we most often remember — is examined here both scientifically and poetically, from a strict sequence of pitches to a group of notes “in love with each other.”

7. Timbre: The Color of Music—The tone color of music — or “timbre,” as we call it in the Western tradition — is influenced by both technical and aesthetic factors.

8. Texture—The way different voices and instruments work together to produce the overall sound gives music its texture.

9. Harmony—When two or more notes sound together, harmony occurs. This interaction of pitches, understood in vastly different ways around the world.

10. Form: The Shape of Music—Form — the way music is organized and structured from beginning to end — guides composers, performers, and listeners in all musics.

11. Composers and Improvisers—How are a composer and an improvisor alike? How are they different?

12. Music and Technology—New instrument types and new electronic media for distribution are obvious results of technology, but so were the first bone flute and the first stretched catgut.

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