The harmonies of diversity, an exploration of transcendence and spiritual communication as unifying elements of musical culture

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Pitcher, Heather Maureen
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Music is an integral component of human culture and while it appears that it is as universal as language in its existence, music is not a universal language, but like language, is culture specific. Exposure to a broad historical and cultural range of music indicates that it is variously conditioned, proscribed, prescribed and motivated by intricate and often disparate social beliefs and customs. Music, like language, is a highly effective and universal means of communication, and is also used to reach states of consciousness that transcend the ordinary awareness of the mundane world, creating its own universe of meaning. These two elements--enhanced communication and transcendence--stand out as motivating elements in the musics of various areas and cultures. The research involves comparison of philosophies, musical processes and historical development of musical traditions as diverse and different from each other as classical Greek and Christian church music, the musical traditions of the peoples of India, select Native American groups, and Tlingit and Tamang shaman music, giving strong support to the thesis that music is a universal means for communication and transcendence.