Degree Year

1996

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Anthropology

Keywords

Culture, Music, Cultural identity, Nyatiti, Luo, Kenya

Abstract

In this thesis I contend that experiencing music is a fundamental activity in the realization of cultural identity. Music reinforces cultural identity by enacting significant forms and practices that embody meaning, meaning particular to the identity of a culture. When people hear music that is significant in their culture it excites certain feelings in them which reinforce and regenerate their identity with that culture. Participation in music is a condition that evokes a vivid impression in the participant like no other activity in social life. Functionally, this impression may reinforce themes impressed on actors in other ways; however, the way the impression is made and the way it is experienced is different in music. To take the baseball example, you can rally an audience around the home team with visual signals, such as a sign reading "go team," but it is the music that acts to really draw people's attention and inspire them.

The musical event is a unique expression of culture in the form of sound. The practices and sounds of a musical activity can be placed within the framework of the culture that it is rooted in; at the same time, however, the culture itself can be placed within the framework of the musical practice. While music is always happening within the context of culture, culture is happening within the context of the music.

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Anthropology Commons

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