In our increasingly interconnected world, the lines between cultures are becoming more blurred, and the globe is transforming into a mosaic of multicultural experiences. With cultural shifts accelerating rapidly in the U.S. and worldwide, the need for multicultural education has never been greater. Enter Soundtrap — a digital audio workstation (DAW) that is breaking barriers and fostering a renewed sense of unity through music. Soundtrap doesn’t just provide a platform for creating tunes; it opens up new channels to understand the deep histories, philosophies, and social contexts that have shaped various forms of music from across the globe.
By leveraging the universal language of music, Soundtrap serves as an immersive learning tool that helps educators bring different cultures closer together. Music transcends geographical and linguistic boundaries, allowing for a richer, more nuanced exchange of ideas and experiences. Whether you’re a student exploring new rhythms or a teacher looking to broaden the horizons of a classroom, Soundtrap is more than just software — it’s a gateway to the world.
Why Use Music to Teach Multiculturalism and Diversity?
Given the complex cultural tapestry of modern society, Incorporating diversity into educational environments is more than a mandated necessity — it’s an ethical and practical imperative. Music, as a universal medium of human expression, serves as a potent tool for achieving this aim. By employing multicultural education, we not only foster tolerance and respect but also facilitate interdisciplinary learning.
Rudine Sims Bishop’s concept of “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” further underscores the importance of using music as a teaching tool for multiculturalism and diversity. Bishop posits that literature (and by extension, any form of cultural expression like music) can act as a mirror, reflecting one’s own culture; a window, offering a glimpse into another culture; or a sliding glass door, providing a pathway into that culture.
Like literature, music can give underrepresented groups the “mirrors” they lack while also offering “windows” into other cultures for all students. Your classrooms can be these mirrors and windows, helping students of all backgrounds to see both the unique and universal aspects of humanity through multicultural discussion. This aligns with Bishop’s advocacy for educational settings where all children can find their mirrors and also look through windows to understand the multicultural world they are a part of.
But how can educators bring this approach into the classroom? Soundtrap for Education is well-poised for this task, offering an inclusive and pedagogically sound platform that helps teachers and students engage deeply with musical elements from various cultures.
Unveiling Culture Through the Prism of Music
The multifaceted nature of music serves as a remarkable vehicle for delving into a culture’s complexities, going beyond the audible experience to engage with ingrained societal norms, traditions, and belief systems. Ethnomusicology helps us dig deeper by focusing on three central aspects: the musical sound, the associated behaviors, and the underlying multicultural concepts.
Three Core Dimensions: Sound, Conduct, and Perception
In ethnomusicology, the study of music goes far beyond the mere analysis of musical notes, delving into how music shapes and is shaped by culture. To fully appreciate this relationship, we explore music through three interconnected dimensions: sound, conduct, and perception. Using Jazz as an example, let’s explore what these three concepts mean in musical analysis.
1. Sound: While many of us are familiar with the basics of music like tempo, pitch, and timbre, ethnomusicology compels us to consider these elements as more than just a sequence of tones. For example, in Jazz, the emphasis on improvisation isn’t just a sonic attribute but a reflection of the genre’s roots in freedom of expression and experimentation.
2. Conduct: This refers to the way music is both made and consumed within a cultural context. Ethnomusicology probes questions like: Who gets to make the music? How is it performed? In Jazz clubs, for instance, audience participation through clapping or verbal expression is not just accepted but encouraged, revealing a culture of collective enjoyment and spontaneous emotional reaction.
3. Perception: Here, we explore the ingrained ideas and beliefs that shape our interaction with music. Jazz, for one, is often considered a quintessentially American genre, embodying ideas of freedom, improvisation, and collaboration. The cultural value ascribed to Jazz is not only related to its sound but also to its power as a symbol of certain American ideals.
Enriching Our Cultural Literacy
When we start to analyze these dimensions, we unlock an enriched understanding of not just our own culture but others as well. This heightened awareness enables more empathetic and nuanced intercultural interactions, enhancing our ability to engage in meaningful dialogue across diverse communities.
Framing our engagement with music through these lenses offers a stepping stone to broader global awareness. This perspective not only enriches our personal experiences but also fuels our intellectual curiosity about the world. As such, ethnomusicology equips us to be more informed and empathetic participants in a world teeming with cultural diversity.
Respecting Culture: Appropriation vs. Appreciation
Before exploring the exciting features of Soundtrap for Education’s new multicultural Soundpacks, it’s essential to grasp the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation. This is particularly important for students, as it equips them to engage respectfully with diverse backgrounds. At Soundtrap, we aim to create a learning environment focused on cultural appreciation.
Cultural appreciation involves a respectful and informed engagement with another culture’s elements, such as its music or traditions. It means doing your homework — understanding the cultural context and history, and giving credit where it’s due. In educational settings, teaching these principles fosters ethical awareness and a deeper understanding of various cultures.
Cultural appropriation, in contrast, is taking elements from another culture without proper understanding or permission. This is problematic, especially when a dominant culture borrows from a marginalized one, often leading to the perpetuation of stereotypes and cultural erasure.
Understanding these nuances is vital for students as it helps them navigate a diverse world respectfully. As they explore Soundtrap’s Soundpacks, which may include elements from different cultures, we encourage them to research and understand the origins, thereby enriching their creative experience and worldview.
Soundtrap’s Newest Multicultural Soundpacks
Soundtrap is continuously evolving to meet the educational needs of a diverse, global student body. One of the most exciting developments is the introduction of new Soundpacks specifically designed to facilitate cultural exploration and discovery. While there are many more Soundpacks on the horizon, today we will focus on two unique collections that are currently making waves: Senegal Sessions and Taal.
Senegal Sessions Soundpack
When discussing the rich history of modern Senegalese music, one inevitably stumbles upon Mbalax — the most well-known and widely celebrated genre in Senegal. However, the musical tapestry of this West African nation extends beyond just Mbalax. It has evolved through various phases, influenced by multiple cultures and styles, to become the multifaceted sonic experience it is today.
The modern Senegalese music landscape truly gained traction in the 1960s, post-independence. Around that time, Cuban influences were seeping into the local scene. Cuban musicians who were active in New York’s nightclubs were incorporating brass and percussion into jazz and blues, giving birth to salsa. Eager to emulate this novel fusion, Senegalese musicians started to sing primarily in Spanish and named their bands with American musical and urban references, like Tropical Jazz, Guinea Jazz, Harlem Jazz, and Star Band. These became the forerunners of the Senegalese music scene, setting the stage for the following genres.
What’s Inside the Soundpack?
For those eager to explore the rich percussion and musical stylings of West Africa, Soundtrap’s Senegal Sessions is your gateway. This Soundpack provides:
- 1 Tama Instrument: The Tama, often called the “talking drum,” is known for its variable pitch, which can be modulated by squeezing the drum between one’s arm and body.
- 100 Loops: These loops offer a broad spectrum of rhythms and melodies, encapsulating the diverse styles found in Senegalese music.
- 1 Demo Project: Intended purely for inspirational purposes, this demo project can serve as a starting point for those unfamiliar with Senegalese music.
The Senegal Sessions Soundpack is not merely a collection of sounds; it’s a comprehensive musical experience that provides a window into a rich and vibrant culture. Its diverse offerings encapsulate Senegal’s musical evolution, right from its early flirtations with Cuban-inspired sounds to the complex rhythms that define its native genres.
Taal, or Tala in Hindi, is a foundational concept in Indian classical music, both in the North Indian (Hindustani) and South Indian (Carnatic) traditions. While it can be loosely translated as “rhythm,” Taal is far more nuanced. Unlike the linear division of time in Western music, Taal operates cyclically. “Matras” or beats segment each cycle into pieces of various lengths . Equidistant syllables express these matras, with each Taal designed to evoke specific emotions. The word Taal itself is rich in linguistic variations, signifying “to clap” in Tamil, “to strike with palms” in Sanskrit, “beat” in Hindi, and both “rhythm” and “sanity” in Bengali.
What’s Inside the Soundpack?
For those keen on expanding their musical horizons, Soundtrap’s Taal Soundpack offers an excellent starting point. The pack is accessible through Music Makers and Complete plans and includes:
- 100 Loops: These loops capture the essence of Taal, offering diverse rhythmic cycles to experiment with.
- 6 Instruments: The pack features some of the most iconic instruments in Indian classical music, such as:
- Sitar: A stringed instrument known for its unique, resonant timbre.
- Dholak: A two-headed drum played with both hands and widely used in folk music.
- Nagara: A kettledrum typically used in traditional ceremonies, often played with mallets.
- 1 Demo Project: As with the Senegal Sessions, this demo is designed to inspire but should not be used as your own content or distributed outside of Soundtrap.
The Taal Soundpack is more than just a collection of Indian classical instruments and loops; it’s an immersive experience of a musical tradition that is deeply tied to spirituality and emotion. Whether you are a budding musician, a student of culture, or a seasoned composer looking to diversify your portfolio, this Soundpack can open many possibilities for students.
Open Your Classroom with Soundtrap
In an era where understanding and embracing multiculturalism is more important than ever, Soundtrap for Education stands as a revolutionary tool for creating windows into new cultures. The platform’s user-friendly audio production environment offers an innovative way for students and educators to tap into the universal language of music, transcending geographical and linguistic boundaries.
What sets Soundtrap apart is its unwavering commitment to fostering cultural understanding and diversity. With the introduction of multicultural Soundpacks, such as Senegal Sessions and Taal, Soundtrap invites users to deeply engage with different musical traditions from around the globe. These are not mere collections of instruments and loops; they serve as educational experiences that provide rich insights into the histories, societal norms, and musical styles of diverse cultures.