Music Culture and History

  • Music Culture and History


    Essential Questions:

    -       Who made the music?

    -       What kind of music did they make?

    -       Where did they make music?

    -       When did they make the music

    -       Why did they make the music?

    -       How did they make music?


    Students will be able to:

    -       List and discuss ways music is part of culture and history.

    -       Reflect upon and discuss ways music has evolved.

    -       Identify places where people make music.

    -       Make connections with culture and history when listening, singing and playing instruments.

    -       Express ways music connects to your own life.



    Culture” is a way of life.

    Customs” are things people do and they way they do them.

    Style” is a manner or way of doing things.

    History” is the story of what happened in the past and how things came to be.

    Biography” is the story of people’s lives in history or the present day.

    "Geography" includes places and natural resources.




    People all around the world make music.

    Music is part of human culture and customs along with language, food, clothing, housing, games, religion, holidays, ceremonies and many other aspects of community life.

    The kind of music people make depends on their beliefs and community traditions.

    The kinds of instruments they use depend on the types of materials available.

    People make music in all kinds of places: stage, church, concert hall, school, park, club, dance hall, market place, street corner, parade, etc.

    The different ways of making music are called “style” or “genre” such as classical, folk, blues, country, jazz, gospel, rock, pop, hip-hop and many more!

    There are different types of musical compositions such as instrumentals, songs, anthems, theme songs, ballads, lullabies, marches, dances, operas, musical theater, orchestras, choirs, etc.


    People have made music since ancient times.

    The earliest people left evidence of music-making in cave paintings, decorations on pottery, discarded remains of musical instruments and written accounts.

    People in the past discovered ways to make music and they passed it along to their children.

    Traditional music is passed from the older to the younger generation until it becomes part of the culture and nobody remembers who actually started it.

    Composers wrote new music to honor kings, to celebrate religion or simply just for enjoyment.

    When people learned to write music notation, they were able to save their ideas and communicate with more musicians until they could have huge orchestras playing all together.

    In the last 100 years technology was developed that allowed people to record the sounds of the music. We can still hear the voices of people who sang the songs so long ago.

    Today people use modern technology to make music in new and creative ways.


    People use music to express ideas and feelings.

    Music has been used differently depending on the place and time in history.

    Music goes along with dancing, acting and storytelling as well as all kinds of visual art.

    Music can be soothing and healing or exciting and invigorating.

    Music is good for the brain and physical body.

    Feeling the vibrations gives us energy.

    Thinking of the patterns builds our brainpower.

    You can create your own music and use it for enjoyment or expression.

    You can sing a song, dance a dance, play an instrument.

    Join with family and friends and enjoy the connection of making music together.


    To understand musical culture and history it’s important to know about maps and geography:

    Continents of the World






         North America

         South America



         Ex, the United States of America, Canada, Mexico


    United States of America

        Ex, New York State, Louisiana, California 



    Buffalo and Western New York Region

        City, suburbs, neighborhoods, natural resources, etc.



    There are many places to hear music in Buffalo:

    Kleinhans Music Hall

    Colored Musicians Club

    Shea's Performing Arts Center

    First Niagara Center

    Coco-Cola Field

    Buffalo State College, Rockwell Hall

    State University of New York at Buffalo, Center for the Arts


    Olmsted Parks

    Art Galleries





    Music and Culture Listening Examples

    There are more famous musicians than we can count but here is a good place to start learning:

    European Composers

    Johanne Sebastian Bach, Minuet in G Major

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Biography

    Ludwig Van Beethoven, Biography

    Igor Stravinsky, Firebird Ballet

    American Jazz Musicians

    Scott Joplin, The Entertainer

    George M. Cohan, You're A Grand Old Flag, featuring singer Billy Murray

    Louis Armstrong, Heebie Jeebies

    Ella Fitzgerald, A Tisket A Tasket

    American Blues, Gospel, Folk & Country

    Robert Johnson, Come On In My Kitchen

    Mahalia Jackson, Down By The Riverside

    Woody Guthrie, This Land Is Your Land

    Hank Williams, So Lonesome I Could Cry

    Popular Musicians of the World

    Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five, ABC

    The Beatles, biography

    Bob Marley, Interviews with Bob Marley's children.

    Buffy St. Marie, Native North American Child

    Babatunde Olatunji, Fanga Rhythm

    Celia Cruz, Songo's Song in Spanish and English

    Lang Lang, Piano Demonstration "Lang Lang Goes Mad" 


    To learn more about music, culture and history:
    - Listen to many kinds of music. You can find all styles of music on the radio, tv and internet.
       Public libraries also have music collections.

    -Ask your parents, grandparents or other family members about the music they like. 
         Ask them to tell you what they like about it and how they found out about it.

    You can keep a Listening Log simply by making a list of the things you listen to.

    Write a few words about what you thought or felt when listening.

    Find out a few facts about the people who made the music, where and when they made it and why they made it.


    Singing and playing instruments is also a good way to connect with culture and history. 

    It’s important to understand where the music came from to help you perform correctly. 

    You can be a part of a long tradition and keep it going on into the future and even create your own music.