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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Music – what is it? Why is it so ingrained into our society? How does it exist above and beyond and within sound itself? And is it more than words spoken, even poetry? So many questions about something that so many of us take for granted. Music is all around us: in nature, in the classroom, in the car, in the home, in the supermarket. Music exists because we exist. From the simplest drum beat to the eloquence of the human voice, music is a vital part of our very existence.
So why study music? We’re not talking about studying how to play a musical instrument. We’re talking about the socio-ethnological implications of what music is and how it affects our lives, how we live with it continually. Musicology, the study of music, and ethno-musicology are mere terms to indicate the depth to which one can study music, its history and its significance. But as author Ruth Finnegan clearly states in Music and Creation, “there is indeed a sense in which music is in practice experienced and formulated by those who hear it.” Music is more than just the performance itself; it is also the setting and audience that create the musical experience.
Music and Creation is a different, unique approach to studying music. As the author points out, music is a vital part of our “sonic environments and practices” more than just “part of the ‘natural’ world nor an unchanging backdrop to human affairs.” Music is clearly “developed through human action in specific historical circumstances as people select, interpret and attend to the sounds they make and hear.” This is a concise and well researched academic dissertation on what music is. A great addition to musicological and ethno-musicological studies.