The music of the east and of the global south is taught very little in the west – and more's the pity, for beautiful musical traditions, instruments, and playing techniques are found everywhere in the world. Whether you're interested in the music of Ghana or India, Japan or Ecuador, studying non-western music can broaden the horizons of any musician and deepen their appreciation for this universal art. Here are five reasons to study non-western music.
Studying non-western music can help the musician discover commonalities across ethnic and regional traditions – from instruments to rhythms to vocal styles. Musicians who study global music will deepen their understanding of how different musical traditions from around the world relate to and even influence each other.
Learning About New Instruments
As you listen to music traditions from around the world, you'll hear a lot of new-to-you instrumentation – and that in turn may spark your interest in studying new instruments. You might hear Chinese traditional music and be inspired to study the pipa, or Middle Eastern music and want to learn the oud or the sitar. Learning about instruments unfamiliar to you can be a great boon professionally as well.
Connecting Global Traditions
Globalism has connected the entire world, and where people go, they bring their traditions with them. You may listen to West African music and hear an echo of Middle Eastern folk, or to Ecuadorean music and hear a lilt of Castilian Spanish classical. Music is one of the many ways in which people of all walks of life connect, and it's not at all uncommon to hear the influence of one global music tradition on another.
Discovering New Favorites
Even if you've never been to Puerto Rico, you may discover that you really love salsa, or that you are moved by the strains of traditional Japanese koto playing even if you have never set foot in Japan. Music as a universal art is capable of moving people to great joy and passion – and studying global traditions may introduce you to music traditions that truly move you.
Broadening Career Prospects
From a purely practical standpoint, studying non-western music and instrumentation can certainly boost a musician's career. It opens up opportunities to perform and compose for these traditions, even if you're not of the background that the tradition comes from. It can also help to broaden and enhance your own work by experimenting with diversity of sound, helping you to more fully realize your musical vision.
Whether for personal enjoyment or professional fulfillment, studying non-western music can be life-changing, and can serve as every musician's personal auditory adventure around the world.