EMU3500EN - Fundamentals of Music in Asian Cultures

Course description

Introduction to indigenous music across Asia, as divided into five geographical and cultural regions. Examining primary sources, secondary readings, audio and audiovisual materials, students will gain foundation understanding of the nature, purposes and contexts of music performance and consumption across the Asian continent. Students will compare and assess music traditions within and between the following regions: East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central and North Asia, and the Middle East.

How this course benefits students

The course gives students an overview of musical genres, concepts and performance contexts across Asia. It equips students with rudimentary knowledge of Asian music in its diverse forms, and prepares them for more detailed investigation of particular traditions. The student gains a deeper understanding of the contexts that have shaped music in various Asian cultures. It also allows students to identify general musical trends across Asia and link these to religious practice.

Why this course is important

Asia is home to sixty percent of the world’s population and all of the world’s major religions originated there. Since the beginning of history music has played an important role in shaping society and cultural identities. An understanding of the relationship between music, culture and society enables students to apply Christian belief to cultural practice more effectively. An understanding of the music of a particular culture allows students to relate to that cultural group and frame the gospel within that cultural context. Learning about the music of a variety of cultures enables students to apply ethnomusicological and music missional principles to other cultures.

Credit hours
3 hours
Subject area
Educational level
Learning type
Upcoming terms
* Schedule subject to change. Please contact the Registrar's office with schedule questions.

How this course relates to missional core values

Biblically based

God began the process of cultural diversity at the tower of Babel and worked through a variety of cultures to bring about a means of salvation that would apply to all human beings, irrespective of cultural background. Throughout the Bible music is referenced to as a way to worship God and enter God's presence.

Missionally driven

Jesus command to take the gospel to every person throughout the world and to make disciples in all nations means that cross cultural communication is a biblical mandate. Music represents a way for missional minded Christians to understand and access a targeted culture or society.

Contextually informed

In order to tackle questions of worship, language, ritual and globalization, students should engage with concrete examples and localities from different parts of the world. They will listen, absorb and analyze music from a range of Asian cultural contexts.

Interculturally focused

Intercultural investigation is an integral component of missional outreach and this applies to music as much as to any other form of cultural expression. As an 'international language' music can create pathways between cultures and enable Christians to accept and be accepted by those from other cultural backgrounds.

Practically minded

Almost everyone enjoys music and music is a great way to relate to other people. Music is a practical activity, involving listening, performing and aesthetic analysis. Understanding music of other cultures improves students’ intercultural communication skills and allows them to develop frameworks for interpretation of religious practice in other cultures.

Experientially transformed

Students will be required to do seek out authentic cultural performances that will result in short ethnographic descriptions that will foster their skills of observation and reflection.