World music: traditions and transformations

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McGraw-Hill, Jan 10, 2007 - Music - 383 pages
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From cha cha chá to jeliya and Hindustani raga to hip-hop gamelan, this exciting new text takes students on a journey through diverse musical cultures and traditions of the world. With a clear and accessible presentation style and lively and engaging writing, it is an ideal introduction to world music for non-music and music majors alike.

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This is a very poorly written textbook. The first section deals with musical generalities, and does so rather poorly. Basic musical elements are discussed only briefly; the majority of the attention is given, rather meanderingly, to a lot of pompous discussion about "what music truly is," and so on. In the major part of the book, Bakan explores several representative cultures. In each culture, he focuses on one specific musical genre. In my opinion, this is a glaring weakness. For example, focusing the entire China chapter on the ch'eng (he romanizes it "zheng" because we don't have enough romanizations of it already!) is, I guess, one way to approach Chinese music, but it is a little like having a class listen to some Chopin piano preludes as a representation of what all European music sounds like. (And there's nothing about Japan!). The Middle Eastern chapter focuses entirely on Egyptian belly-dancing. And there are far too many unexplained terms. For example, in the Indonesia chapter, he uses the term "wayang kulit" a couple of times, but never bothers to explain that it is an important venue of Javanese gamelan music. He's too busy talking about some Balinese group, because he once played in a gamelan himself somewhere, and he needs to spend time on self-aggrandisement. Also, there's a set of CDs that come with the book, but there is also an online site that you have to go to to hear some rather important examples. These should be on the CD, or all of it should be online, one or the other. I'm trying to teach a course in World Music out of this textbook right now, and I'm finding a very high level of frustration with it. I'm going to recommend that they change the text next time this course is taught. (I wish I could give this book zero stars.) 


What in the World Is Music?
A Musicultural Approach

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About the author (2007)

assistant professor of ethnomusicology at Florida State University, where he directs the Sekaa Gong Hanuman Agung Balinese gamelan.

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