Music can be defined as a collection of sounds and silence, however, as we learned in class, music style and verity can differ greatly between regions of the world. In this paper, we will summarize each studied region by listing a few important characteristics and themes of each. We will first look into the regional themes and styles of China, followed by those from Japan and Bali, then move on to the Pacific Islands, and finally end with Pacific Latin America. We will also compare and contrast each area along the way, and will list some common similarities and differences between them.
Music in China is roughly centered on three main themes. The first theme prevalent in Chinese music in the past is the idea that music should be used to better one’s self in the long-run. This idea was prevalent among the literati in China, whose ideas revolved around the Confucian idea that music should be played for the bettering of yourself. The Guqin, a large string instrument from the region, was often played by scholars for introspection, and was believed that it could lead to spiritual enlightenment for those who played it. The second common theme used in Chinese music is precision. In the Canton province the two styles of music played, Yueju and Jingju, both require extremely precise high-pitched falsetto singing, and often involved only one singer and one instrument. The third theme of Chinese music was the idea of amateur verses professional musicians in China. In pre-PRC China, amateurs were actually held in a higher status than professionals. Once the PRC took over, the opposite began to happen. Mass music became popular, so new music styles began to emerge, which eventually meant that traditional pre-PRC music was no longer encouraged. The new government began to use professional musicians to promote their ideals, therefore they were given a higher status. Amateur musicians who were thought of as highly skilled in pre-PRC China were now thought of as “untrained”, and were banished to perform in music clubs.
We will now take a look at musical themes in Japan, then discuss those from Bali. Japanese music is focused around three central themes. The first theme in Japan, like in China, focuses around playing instruments for enlightenment. In China, Confucian ideals told the Chinese that playing the Guqin would lead to spiritual enlightenment. In Japan, a similar idea is derived from Zen Buddhism. In order to achieve enlightenment, one would need Koan, silent meditation, and would need to play the Shakuhachi. The next common theme in Japanese music was the connection to nature that much of the music had. Relaxation and meditation go hand-in-hand with nature themes. In Japan, Shinto-Buddhism puts an emphasis on the unity of nature and your everyday life. This theme was also prevalent in Australia, where much of the indigenous music was about the land and its beauty. The final theme in Japanese music was the...