Music Diversity Workshop Activities

Music diversity workshop activities include activities designed to help people connect with and appreciate the music of different cultures. By discussing the music, culture and people involved the creation of location-specific music, a greater appreciation for different cultures can be fostered. Workshops may focus on specific regions or deal with broader comparisons between Eastern and Western types of music.


Compare the scales of different cultures and have participants identify, discuss and discern the difference between the types of music. A background in music is not necessary to discuss melody. Participants can discuss the way in which Eastern melodies differ from Western melodies, or how melodies from Africa differ from those of China. Advanced students can analyze the types of scales used and the different notes used between scales. People with little experience can talk about the location of the melodies and whether they are high or low, jump around or move stepwise, and if they seem to return to the starting pitch.


Different cultures have varying ways of expressing rhythm. African music will often use several polyrhythms, which means that several different and contrasting rhythms will be played at once. Western music often uses rhythms that are more homogenous and the listener can clearly hear each individual rhythm. East Asian music, on the other hand, uses rhythms that pulsate and use steady rhythms to provide a background pulse for the music. Middle Eastern music uses extremely complex rhythms that fall into several complex patterns that repeat based on the needs of the performer.


No music workshop that deals with diversity would be complete without a discussion of the different culture and how the culture influences the music. For instance, African music uses instruments that can be created with materials found locally, while Western music uses complex machinery to create instruments. A discussion of industrialization and its effects on the development of music provides the participants with the context for listening to new music. Customs and practices of each country or region represented must be explained and discussed in the workshop activities.


The intention of the music should be evaluated within the workshop. Music should be categorized and compared based on its intended use. A musical piece intended for a wedding in Africa should be compared to wedding songs of East Asia and music from the West. Further, compare the differences between specific countries and even locations within individual countries. Comparing the music from a New Orleans wake to other types of funeral music within the United States provides a demonstration of how drastically music can change between locales.


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