Many people all around the world cannot imagine a single day without listening to music. Whether for leisure, relaxation, entertainment, or simply love, it holds a special place in the lives of many. And while music is truly the most popular and famous language in the world, for many cultures, it has a much deeper meaning and a bigger significance than one might initially realize.
Whether it is a form of preserving one’s traditions or expressing one’s cultural identity, it helps groups of people define who they are and aids in creating a person’s communal self-identity. Looking through the cultural history of nations, one is likely to find long-standing traditions in which music is one of the most important elements that perfectly reflects the charm and essence of a certain ethnic group.
Today, songs are mostly enjoyed as entertainment, used as a form of expression or for connecting with others, but for many communities around the globe, it still plays a significant role in keeping their history and traditions alive. Many of the strongest community bonds are created through songs and melodies that feature traditional instruments, dances, and the native language.
Thanks to the digital age, having access to songs from even the most remote places on Earth means that individuals now have the chance to learn more about many different traditions, cultures, and ways of life. This doesn’t only entail becoming more open-minded and accepting but it can also enrich our lives and make us more appreciative of where we come from.
But why does music hold such a high place in defining one’s cultural identity? Here are a few reasons to answer the question.
Although most countries have their native language, there is no doubt that, due to various influences, it has changed in some way or form. However, singing, playing, or dancing to old traditional songs can help keep the language alive. Moreover, for immigrants, it can help them keep a sense of connection to their home country, as well as teach their children their native language.
Music is also a great vessel for individuals who are looking to dive deeper and gain a better understanding of a different culture and it can help them learn a foreign language in an easier and more fun way too.
2. Respecting History & Keeping the Culture Alive
In some societies, music emerged in some of their earliest historical periods, appearing hundreds if not thousands of years ago. This is why people have a deep appreciation for it and why they do it with so much love and passion.
By performing the various forms of traditional music, individuals are not only telling a story and essentially the history of their people in some way, but are also keeping the culture and traditions alive by singing in their language, using authentic instruments, and donning folk clothing.
For example, the Tamil Nadu state in south India uses its folk music to promote happiness, celebrate their culture, and bring hope and inspiration to their people. Rural tribes have their own folk traditions such as singing in harmony or playing instruments like the Urumee.
And even with the transition into the popular film music of Tamil Nadu, composers are still integrating some traditional elements into their modern tunes. You can visit isaiminis if you would like to listen to some Tamil songs.
Moreover, even when looking at the more recent history, it is evident that numerous musicians have written songs to express judgments and conflicts about appearances, values, and lifestyles, often critiquing the unjust society we live in. This is something that is left behind to future generation and that can help them understand the history of their country much better and in a more relatable fashion.
3. Honoring Traditions
There are various reasons why one might enjoy singing, and although it is universal, the motifs, themes, and reasons for singing are not. Various communities have different views on music and as such, it holds a different meaning to different groups of people.
For example, certain blacksmiths in Africa sing as they forge a tool, as it is believed that melodies hold a special power that will make the weapon stronger. Other communities around the world sing as a means of spiritual connection and transformation, while many tribes use songs for diagnosing illnesses or for healing injuries and curing diseases.
Some people simply use music as an act of compassion, utilizing it in order to make the world a better place. Singing in a specific tone in carefully crafted words and with very specific movements are sometimes used in special rituals as a way to honor one’s beliefs and cultural values.
4. Connecting With Others
Certain communities blur the lines between performers and the audience, eliminating the division between the talented and untalented. By singing and dancing as one, they bring about unity and a sense of belonging.
Moreover, many songs are taught by rote as opposed to songbooks or written pages, something that entails people coming together and sharing their knowledge with each other.
Using unique instruments, playing distinguished melodies while wearing distinct clothing are all ways of expressing the authenticity and heritage of a person’s cultural identity. They are what sets one community apart from the others and what allows individuals to proudly display who they are and where they come from.
It enables people to connect to their heritage, learn more about where they come from, and allows them to teach others about their country and traditions as well.
There is a reason why many say that music is a universal language as one doesn’t need to understand the words in order to appreciate the melody. It has the power to bring people together but also to teach them about the stories and cultures of others.
It is a key element in preserving languages, traditions, and histories, allowing communities to persevere even today. This is why it is as serious and urgent as it is beautiful and transcendent and why it is more important than ever before for maintaining one’s cultural identity.