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Early in this development there appeared a dual division of emphasis that has remained throughout the history of the field.
The second stresses music in its cultural context, no matter in what geographical area of the world and is concerned with music as human behavior and the functions of music in human society and culture.
Consequently, its emphasis on musical structure is not as great, although it does use objective techniques of detailing a musical style to effectuate comparison between song bodies and to attack problems of diffusion, acculturation, and culture history.
Thus one emphasis in ethnomusicology concerns the description and analysis of technical aspects of musical structure. In early writings this aim tended to be coupled with attempts to use the concept of social evolution to establish basic laws of the development of music structure through time.
Particular attention was also directed toward the problem of the ultimate origin of music; and later, with the rise of Kulturkreis theories and particularly in connection with the study of musical instrumentsdetailed reconstructions of music diffusion from supposed basic geographical centers were attempted.
The second emphasis in ethnomusicology was directed toward the study of music in its ethnologic context, and research in this area was influenced by American anthropology.
As a result, extreme theories of evolution and diffusion were strongly discounted.
Ethnomusicology has thus developed in two directions. On the one hand, music is treated as a structure that operates, it is presumed, according to certain principles inherent in its own construction. On the other hand, since music is produced by and for people, it must also be regarded as a product of human behavior operating within a cultural context and in conjunction with all the other facets of human behavior.
The duality of music as a human phenomenon is thus emphasized in ethnomusicological studies; while musical sound has structure, that structure is produced by human behavior and operates in a total cultural context.
Ethnomusicology has also been shaped by various historical processes. Arising at a time when virtually nothing was known outside Western and, to a certain extent, Oriental cultures, ethnomusicology placed heavy emphasis on the unknown areas of the world—Africa, aboriginal North and South AmericaOceania, inner Asia, Indonesia.
Thus the development of ethnomusicology to a considerable extent paralleled that of anthropology: Thus there arose in ethnomusicology a body of techniques and a system of analysis, which, while drawing upon studies of Western music, have taken some unique turns.
Music structure Ethnomusicologists are engaged in a search for the proper balance between the basic parts of their discipline, and this search tends to be made within the framework of three major responsibilities felt by scholars in the field. The first of these areas is the technical study of music structure itself and of how it can best be learned, described, generalized, and compared in specific instances.
Even here there is divergence of opinion, as one group of ethnomusicologists argues that the best way to learn a music system is by learning to perform in its style. Performance, most notably in Indonesian and Far Eastern orchestras and styles, is stressed by some scholars, and in many cases with notable results.
On the other hand, this approach is criticized by those who hold that performance cannot be the ultimate goal of ethnomusicology and that the value of performance tends to be overstressed.
Ethnomusicologists are agreed, however, that musical sound must ultimately be reduced to notation. Notation by ear in the field is considered unreliable because of the many nuances that are lost, and the usual procedure is to work by ear from tape or disc recordings.
In recent years the possibilities of constructing electronic equipment that will give a far more accurately detailed transcription have been explored, and preliminary results indicate that such equipment may, indeed, be both feasible and useful.
The precise transcription of scale systems tuned in intervals different from the Western scale remains somewhat difficult, although such measuring devices as the monochord, electronic equipment, and the cents system can, and do, bring a high degree of precision.
Most ethnomusicologists, however, use the Western staff system for notation, employing various special signs to indicate pitch differences and discussing the precise tunings in the body of their report.
Analysis is almost always couched in objective, arithmetical, and sometimes statistical terms, with frequencies of appearance of specific characteristics related to the total possibility of the sample. Those characteristics of the music usually considered include melodic range, level, direction, and contour; melodic intervals and interval patterns; ornamentation and melodic de-vices; melodic meter and rhythm; durational values; formal structure ; scale, mode, duration tone, and subjective tonic; meter and rhythm; tempo; and vocal style.
Other characteristics may be added by the individual student, and almost every body of song demands unique attention in some respects. There remain, however, a number of difficulties in the technical analysis of music.
The first of these concerns transcription itself and the accuracy that can be achieved through the use of the human ear. Closely connected with this is the unresolved question of how accurate a transcription must be; that is, can one generalize, or must the accuracy be as high as that presaged by the advent of electronic equipment?
A third problem concerns sampling. Theoretically, at least, the musical universe of any given people is infinite, and the questions are thus how large a sample yields reliable results and whether a larger sample will yield significantly different results from a smaller one.
It must also be decided whether one type of song in a given culture is significantly different from another and, if so, whether these types must be treated separately or lumped together into a general set of results for the entire body of music.
Finally, there is the major problem of which elements of a musical style are significant, and whether those that are significant are also characteristic.Most sites require a link to a specific video URL. If the video is in your feed or on a page with other videos, you may be able to right-click the video, or click the video's timestamp, to .
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