QUESTION 1. Among all the birds that are native to North America, the hermit thrush has a beautiful chirping. The hermit thrush’s chirping sounds like a vocalization (phrase) and then a pause, then another vocalization and pause, and so on. If you listen closely, you also hear that a thrush can produce more than one tone at once, a kind of two-tone harmony. Watch this video attentively for a couple of minutes: Hermit Thrush Singing to understand this harmony and then answer the following questions: 

Is this music or a bird song music? Why or why not?

Watch this video: How Musical is Humankind?

Discuss with your classmates: according to the author’s statements at the beginning of sections 1-3, and John Blacking’s definition stated in the video, what is the definition of music?  Justify your answer. 

  • QUESTION 2. By listening to music, we are exposed to cultures and peoples greatly separated from us by place or time, in sound and style, or in ways of making and playing music. But there is also a music-culture surrounding us. Our musical environment is held both within us, in our thoughts; and outside us—by other members of our community. It includes family, ethnic groups, regional styles, geographic location, and cultural roots.
  • Your task on this discussion:

Read Chapter 1, 1-2 The Music-culture.

  • Read Chapter 11, under Music in Our Own Backyards, all seven aspects: Family, Generation and Gender, Leisure, Religion, Ethnicity, Regionalism, and Commodified music.

Discuss with your peers based on the following reflection questions:

What is “music-culture”?

Does listening to unfamiliar music help us to see the world differently?

Is it hard to listen to music that wasn’t our favorite previously?

What do we gain by listening to other types of music?

  1. Help your classmates try and understand why they feel the way they feel about certain types of music. What is it about the music that you or they find unsettling?