Musical Language

  • Howard S. Becker
Part of the Musik und Gesellschaft book series (MUGE)


Musical activity takes place through sounds that are largely non-verbal. Becker argues that if we want to understand how the collective activity that constitutes music-making takes place we have to understand that very language. (This explains why so many sociologists of music have been or still are music-makers.) Furtheron Becker states that ethnomusicology focuses on musics that are unfamiliar to ears trained in Western music based on a twelve tone scale and all the other apparatus of conventional 20th century music. Becker explores a classic ethnomusicological work, „La fanfare de Bangui“ by Simha Arom, which contains a remarkable analysis of a kind of music that is very different from Western music and which had to be studied by methods Arom had to invent for the occasion.


  1. Arom, Simha (2009) La fanfare de Bangui. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  2. Balliet, Whitney (1986) American Musicians: 56 Portraits in Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Faulkner, Robert R. / Becker, Howard S. (2009) Do You Know … ? The Jazz Repertoire in Action. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Forster. E. M. (1989) Howards End. First published in 1910. London: Penguin Classics.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard S. Becker
    • 1
  1. 1.San FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations