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Music, Society, Education

Christopher Small

Publication Year: 1996

Cited by Soundpost as "remarkable and revolutionary" upon its publication in 1977, Music, Society, Education has become a classic in the study of music as a social force. Christopher Small sets out to examine the social implications of Western classical music, effects that until recently have been largely ignored or dismissed by most musicologists. He strives to view the Western musical tradition "through the mirror of these other musics [Balinese and African] as it were from the outside, and in so doing to learn something of the inner unspoken nature of Western culture as a whole."

As series co-editor Robert Walser writes, "By pointing to the complicity of Western culture with Western imperialism, Small challenges us to create a future that is more humane than the past. And by writing a book that enables us to rethink so fundamentally our involvements with music, he teaches us how we might get there."

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Series: Music Culture


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p. vii

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Foreword to the 1996 Edition

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pp. ix-xi

Each time I scan the concert listings of the Los Angeles Times, I am reminded of Christopher Small's brilliantly wide-ranging meditations on contemporary musical life. According to the Times, performances can be divided into three categories: "Jazz," "Pop/Rock," and "Music." That certain kinds of music should be split away from...

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pp. 1-5

It is generally acknowledged that the musical tradition of post-Renaissance Europe and her offshoots is one of the most brilliant and astonishing cultural phenomena of human history. In its range and power it is perhaps to be matched by only one other intellectual understandable, therefore, if those of us who are its heirs...

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1 The Perfect Cadence and the Concert Hall: The music of Post-Renaissance Europe

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pp. 7-33

It is often said, but cannot be too often reiterated, that every human being is conditioned, to a degree impossible to fathom, by the assumptions of the culture in which he lives. The late Harry Partch called it bewitchment, and in a ringing phrase added, 'Like the Mindanao Deep in the Pacific, the bewitchment is deep and mysterious'.1 This...

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2 Music Outside Europe: Two Non-European musical cultures

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pp. 34-59

A fish is not aware of the water, since it knows nothing of any other medium. Until quite recently, this has been the position of European culture vis-a-vis the rest of the world; the complete and invincible certainty of the axiomatic superiority of European art to that of the rest of the world ensured that Europe was cut off, for more than three centuries,...

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3 The Commanding of Nature: The science of Post-Renaissance Europe

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pp. 60-79

Just as western classical music occupies for many music lovers the whole field of musical experience, so to many thoughtful people the methods and approach of western science provide a paradigm for the acquisition of all knowledge. To such people, scientific method is the only valid means of exploring the universe, the scientific eye the only valid means of viewing it. And indeed,...

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4 The Scientific World View: European culture defined by its music and its science

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pp. 80-96

A culture is a unity; that we may take as an axiom. The fashionable notion of the 'Two Cultures' picturing our society as split into those who know about science and those who do not, with the Second Law of Thermodynamics as touchstone, is a convenient fiction; while it may be taken as indicating the increasingly schizoid nature of our society, we should remember that, as with a schizoid personality,...

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5 The Vision of a Potential Society: Twentieth-century music in revolt

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pp. 97-128

One needs only to look around to see that our society as a whole still firmly espouses the post-Renaissance scientific world view, even though that view may be somewhat on the defensive. As a recent article in New Society says, 'As recently as the 1960s, to call an argument "scientific" was a compliment; it is fast becoming a slur.'1 The article, however...

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6 A Different Drummer: The music of the United States

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pp. 129-159

It is a characteristic of tonal-harmonic music that it requires a high degree of subordination of the individual elements of the music to the total effect. Not only is the progress of each individual voice required to conform to the progression of chords, but also each individual note or chord is meaningless in itself, gaining significance only within the context of the total design,...

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7 Plus

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pp. 160-181

The revolution which has taken place in the technical means of music during the twentieth century may seem to point to a revolution in the conceptual life of western man, yet this revolution obstinately refuses to take place; we remain as tied as ever to the scientific world view. We have examined the kind of thinking that is prefigured by the musical revolution, but that thinking...

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8 Children as Consumers: Education and music in education as they are

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pp. 182-205

The point at which the twin concepts, the producer-consumer relationship and knowledge as essentially outside of and independent of the knower, come together most significantly is in the field of education, or rather, to use Ivan Illich's valuable distinction, in schooling, since schooling and education are by no means synonymous; contrary to popular supposition,...

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9 Children as Artists: Music and music in education—a model for change

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pp. 206-229

I have said that art, education and society move in a kind of loosely lockstepped three-legged race; each can change only very little without involving corresponding changes in the other two. Of the three, clearly, society as a whole exerts the most leverage but since it is ideas that shape society none is completely without influence. Daniel Bell: 'Ideas and cultural styles do not change history — at least, not overnight. But they are a necessary prelude...


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pp. 230-234

E-ISBN-13: 9780819572233
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819563071

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 1996

Series Title: Music Culture
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OCLC Number: 48138577
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Music, Society, Education

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Subject Headings

  • Music -- Social aspects.
  • Music -- Instruction and study.
  • Music -- Philosophy and aesthetics.
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