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Historical Perspective in Music Discussion

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Historical Perspectives in Music: 

Shine the spotlight on music or musicians who have contributed to the world of music or pushed the societal envelope but whose stories are not well known, or examine the benefits & challenges of appreciation vs. appropriation in music and culture. 

  1. History has its eyes on you

 Deciding who to profile in a history textbook is challenging – content needs to be edited to a reasonable amount for students, yet there are great stories and people that get left out. Examine a musician or song that pushed the envelope in society to break down social barriers. Choose from the list given to research & highlight for class. 

  • Cultural appreciation vs. appropriation:

 Research & understand both sides of the issue to determine at what point does “cultural appreciation” become “cultural appropriation”, or is all fair in love and music? 

Musicians & artists have always been influenced by their experiences with other musicians and other cultures. From Haydn’s use of folk tunes to Debussy’s exploration of Asian music to the perennially popular “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” music is a mix of various cultures. But where is the line between being influenced by, and directly taking (& profiting from) another’s art? For example, did Justin Bieber cross a line in his performance of “Despacito”? Read & watch the material in this unit, then considering the information (as well as any other you research on your own), come to a conclusion regarding this question:

“Can an artist ever connect exclusively with the art of a less privileged culture, or does the very nature of the difference in privilege and politics define the interaction in some way?”

Define and explain both sides of the issue then offer your opinion based on the research!


Research (using credible sources), then present what you discovered on the discussion board and include at least one music (audio/video) sample. If available, student samples are provided. You do not have to cover the entire topic, but explore one aspect of it.

Post your content onto the discussion board and include embedded videos (not attachments; links only for slide presentations/narrated videos). Include specifically where we are to listen (time cue or edit video). If song sample is in a foreign language, please include translated title and brief explanation of what song is about (complete translated lyrics ok, but not necessary). 


 Include music sample(s) to accompany your information. To Embed videos into your report, it is recommended that you download music samples you want to use to avoid ads or vanishing videos. To secure music clips (for academic purposes only)

  • Caption photos and videos with identifying information (artist/composer, title, source-website address)
  • If song is not in English, please provide brief description of what the song is about.
  • Cite any research sources you used within your post (i.e. if statistics or direct quotes are used) or at the end of report.
  • See student samples for ideas (but follow current grading rubric).

Basic Outline:

  • ¶/Slide 1: Introduce topic, explain interest
  • ¶/Slide 2+: 3-5 paragraphs/slides explaining subject, pros & cons (if applicable), include graphics & audio example(s) with time cues or edited content so we know specifically where to listen; bullet points are encouraged for slideshows.
  • ¶/Slide: Conclusion – summarize the topic, give your opinion on the topic based on your research

Historical Perspectives in Music:

  • Examine historical perspectives in music culture by researching music or musicians who pushed the envelope in society, but aren’t necessarily remembered in history, or explore the challenging issue of music appreciation vs. appropriation. Composers have been inspired by the music of other cultures, adopting folk songs, instruments, or other musical elements to influence their musical style. Research both sides of the issue to determine at what point does “influence” becomes “cultural appropriation”, is fair to look through today’s lens to criticize the past, or is all fair in love and music? Or highlight musicians who deserve their moment in history’s spotlight.
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