The social and personal functions of music in cross-cultural perspective

Clayton, Martin (2008). The social and personal functions of music in cross-cultural perspective. In: Hallam, Susan; Cross, Ian and Thaut, Michael eds. The Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 35–44.



Music's functions appear to range from the individual (music can affect the way we feel and the way we manage our lives) – to the social (it can facilitate the coordination of large numbers of people and help to forge a sense of group identity). This article argues that musical behaviour also covers a vast middle ground in which relationships between self and other or between the individual and the collective are played out. This chapter surveys some of the extant literature on music's functions – referring to literature from ethnomusicology to anthropology, musicology, psychology, and sociology, and discussing a wide variety of musical contexts from around the world – and develops an argument emphasizing music's role in the management of relationships between self and other.

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