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Introduction to World Music Online

Introduction to World Music Online has been designed to cover the concepts, vocabulary and subject matter of an introductory college level course in world music. Students will learn to recognize and identify the basic characteristics of traditional music that has developed around the world and will develop an appreciation for the global reach of these musical influences, as seen in the popularity of contemporary world music. Key features of music from around the world are discussed, including non-Western musical systems, rhythms, compositional forms, and terminology, encouraging students to compare and contrast a range of genres, styles, and musical practices across diverse historical and cultural contexts.

Students navigate the course using a printed guide that serves as a textbook and workbook. Included with the guide are three music CDs compiled and produced by Sony Music. These contain a rich selection of excerpts and pieces that are referenced in the lectures, reading assignments, and quizzes. Instructors can customize the course by making learning assets open or closed to student view and by adding learning assets such as new assignments, discussion forums, web research activities, and extra-credit work. Finally, there is the option of turning on automatic student tracking that simplifies the evaluation process.

This course is also well-suited for a Flipped Classroom or hybrid class.

The textbook/workbook to accompany this course is Introduction to World Music Online, written by William Cratty, Jeffrey Ainis, and Shawn Woodyard. Collaboration on course design was provided by David W. Megill and Donald D. Megill. Additional information is provided under the “How to Adopt Course & Print Materials” tab below. To request access to an electronic review copy of the textbook/workbook, please contact Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.

For access to Coast Learning Systems’ online course preview site, please complete a Preview Request Form.

Lesson Titles and Descriptions

1. How Music Is Linked to Culture

Music is sound organized in time by human beings. It is a form of both communication and expression. Music is found in every culture in the world and in an enormous variety of styles and settings, and it plays important roles in religion, drama, dance, and everyday life. Archaeologists have discovered primitive musical instruments that may be 20,000 years old!

2. The Characteristic Elements of Music

There are a few basic elements that are commonly found in music. Becoming familiar with these musical characteristics makes it easier to identify and appreciate a culture’s or subculture’s music. They provide a helpful framework for listening to, thinking about, and talking about the music of the various cultures we study. They give you some footing as you explore music from different perspectives.

3. Native North American Music

Europeans who first encountered Native Americans, encountered people with an entirely different culture and a different relationship with the world. For the most part, Native Americans feel a deep connection and relationship with nature. A mountain is not an inanimate pile of earth and rocks with trees, but something with its own life force. If they are in harmony with nature, and in tune with nature’s rhythms, life is good. Their ceremonies, chants, and music help to cultivate or restore that harmony. While the music of each tribe or region has its distinctive features, this lesson looks at the features that many tribes have in common, and also takes a closer look at the distinctive features of a few, particularly the Navajo, which is currently North America’s largest tribe.

4. Sub-Saharan African Music

Until four thousand years ago, the African Sahara was a fertile land, but a drying Sahara Desert forced people to migrate north and south. This lesson looks at the people who went south and west; the people of sub-Saharan Africa. While there is really no such thing as African music, there are several features are common to many of its cultures. But a study of sub-Saharan African music is not just a look at musical features and styles. It is also an exposure to a way of thinking about music that is different than the Western approaches—even different than such African-influenced music as jazz and blues. Regularly recurring beats or time signatures are not the underlying force in traditional African music; the underlying rhythms actually change their relationships over the course of a single piece of music.

5. African-American Music

When Africans were brought to the New World, they brought their African traditions and orientation with them. They adapted some of these traditions to the new culture, and were forced to hide, substitute, or discard others. This was a case of forced migration, and the African Americans endured much pain. The music that arose was both an expression of that pain and a way to lift the spirit in the midst of it. The majority of Africans were brought from West Africa, but they represented many states, kingdoms, and languages. They blended and adapted their own musical, cultural, and spiritual traditions with those of the dominant culture, incorporating influences from Ireland, Scotland, England, Sweden, Germany, France, and other parts of Europe, and eventually Latin America (which itself absorbed many African influences). The hybrid African-American musical styles, in turn, influenced many mainstream genres. As was common in Africa, music accompanied many aspects of daily life.

6. Japanese Music

Japanese music is a chance to look at music in a new way. With this lesson, we not only explore several styles of Japanese music and their settings, but also Japan’s unique relationship to music and the arts in general. An interesting set of forces is at play in Japanese music. The ancient music from Shinto rituals and other indigenous music has had a role in the development of Japan’s traditional music. Music from the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria has influenced both musical styles and instruments. And the music of China, including influences from India and the Vietnam Peninsula, has also had a major impact on Japanese music instruments. And all have had an impact on the culture and society at large.

7. The Music of India

The music of every culture is tied to nonmusical aspects of the culture, but that fact may be even easier to observe in the music of India than it is elsewhere. Indian music grew out of the traditions of the Aryan people who overran India a millennium and a half BCE. In most current performances, the influences of religion, tradition, and ancient cultural theories can be seen clearly. In order to understand many Indian musical theories and practices, it is necessary to understand some aspects of the Vedic tradition, the basics of the religions that were born in India (Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism), and of Islam, which has powerfully affected Indian history and culture, and some basic elements of Indian culture.

8. Latin American Music

There was a time more than 15,000 years ago when the beautiful lands of South America lay untouched by man. One can only imagine what the first Amerindians thought when they arrived on the South American continent, perhaps after migrating from the North American continent after crossing the Bering Strait from Asia. They were most likely astonished to see the virgin lands of the majestic Andes Mountains along the western coast of South America, the coastal range of the Sierra Nevada, the verdant rain forests of the vast Amazon basin, the tremendous volume of water of the Amazon River, and the driest desert in the world, the Atacama Desert. The abundance and diversity of natural rich resources in their new environmental landscape enabled the newcomers to proliferate and flourish, creating hundreds of new and diverse cultures that expanded across the New World.

9. The Music of Indonesia

“Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” is the national motto of Indonesia. In the old Javanese language, it means “unity in diversity.” With more than 3,000 inhabited islands, 240 million people, and 300 ethnic groups speaking more than 250 languages, the diversity aspect is easy to understand. That diversity is seen and heard in the many expressions of culture, geography, and religion, and certainly in the music. With an assortment of gongs, flutes, percussion instruments, and lutes that can vary from island to island, and village to village, Indonesian music represents a wealth of contrast that is rarely seen in such magnitude.


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Coast breaks from the traditional order of topics and in a fashion that emphasizes key concepts better, and that allows students understanding to develop in a more natural manner."
David Carter, Angelo State University


Instructors can customize the course by making learning assets open or closed to student view, add learning assets such as new assignments, discussion forums, web research activities, and extra credit work. Finally, there is the option of turning on automatic student tracking that simplifies the evaluation process.

How to Adopt Course & Print Materials

There is no fee paid by an institution or instructor when the online course/content is adopted. Each student is required to purchase the course materials which includes a one-time use Access Code. To adopt and offer this course online, instructors complete an Online Course Request Form prior to the start of each term, and a course shell will be provided by the date requested. Instructors also have the option to request a “copy” of their prior course each term.

This online course is hosted and provided in a Moodle® (LMS) shell, and instructors can link from their institution’s LMS or send their students directly to the class URL. Coast Learning Systems provides instructor and student technical support via an electronic help desk, which is monitored 7 days a week. Our goal is to make sure you enjoy teaching with our content and that your students have an engaging and positive learning experience.

The Online Course Request Form should be submitted at least two weeks prior to the start of your class.

Introduction to World Music Online
Kendall-Hunt Publishing Company
ISBN: 978-0-7575-6018-7
This course is also well-suited for a Flipped Classroom or hybrid class.