Excursions in World Music. 5th Ed.

Textbook Review by Matt & Dani

Nettl, Bruno. Excursions in World Music. 5th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2008. Print.

Co-authors: Capwell, Charles. Bohlman, Philip, Wong, Isabel K.F., Turino, Thomas.

Description: This book explores major musical cultures and the role of music around the world. Each chapter begins with a narrative and continues with a general description of each musical culture. The text divides the world into eleven culture areas (see table of contents below), devoting a chapter to each. Each chapter is written by a scholar with field experience in that particular area. Its presentation includes musical style, music history, instruments, genres, rituals, musical concepts, discussion of the musical selections on the accompanying CD’s (3), and [occasionally] recent developments. In general, each chapter features the traditional/indigenous/classical style for that culture; however popular music in that culture is mentioned briefly. Publication Dates: 1992, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2008.

Target Reader(s): This text is targeted toward introductory world music undergraduate students in the United States. Additionally, it could be used in an Introduction to Ethnomusicology course, and/or as a supplement in general Music Appreciation courses.

Table of Contents:
1. Introduction (Bruno Nettl)
2. Music of India (Charles Capwell)
3. Music of the Middle East (Bruno Nettl)
4. Music of China (Isobel Wong)
5. Music of Japan (Isobel Wong)
6. Music of Indonesia (Charles Capwell)
7. The Music of Sub-Saharan Africa (Thomas Turino)
8. The Musical Culture of Europe (Philip Bohlman)
9. Music in Latin America (Thomas Turino)
10. The Caribbean Islands (Timothy Rommen)
11. Native American Music (Bruno Nettl)
12. Ethnic North America (Philip Bohlman)

Critical Review

• The students are exposed to new music by a scholar who is a specialist in that area.
• Throughout the text, there are excellent listening guides/maps to walk students through the listening process and teach them how to listen critically.
• There are color photographs throughout.
• Each chapter includes a bibliography/discography for further study
• Definitions for key terms are located in the margins.
• Regional maps are found in each chapter.
• The glossary includes the country of origin.
• The online resources with tests and downloadable files are helpful for instructors.
• The focus on Iran and the Middle East allows instructors to relate to geographical/political issues happening today.
• The accompanying CD selections offer a strong variety.
• The accompanying CD’s are in a book-sized cardboard sleeve, which is easy to carry around.

• The language used is not necessarily written for freshmen/sophomore level (i.e. see Notes on Marriage of Figaro in chapter 1. This section assumes prior knowledge.) There is a glossary in the back of the book; however its definitions are not sufficient for someone without a solid musical background.
• Most chapters are generally too in depth for this type of course, and contain many details, which can obscure the general/main points. Teachers may not be able to cover the whole book in one semester as a result.
• The text does not go enough into the relationship of each culture’s music to today (i.e. India leaves out Bollywood).
o P. 51: talks about relating Indian music to Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass, but perhaps the intended audience would not be familiar with these composers.
• Throughout the book, there are several technical terms without explanations.
• There is not a common template from which each author writes his or her chapter, thus there are different chapter layouts and formats. This lack of consistency can obscure the more important points of the text.
o Some authors focus on history/culture. Others focus on genres/instruments.
• Not every chapter has an instrument list.
• There is no pronunciation guide for foreign words.
• In the chapters that do include an instrument list, there is not a common instrument classification system between them; some use Hornbostel/Sachs, while others split it into woodwinds/brass/percussion/strings.
• While the text includes Indonesia, it omits the rest of Oceania.
• There is no list of terms in each chapter.
• There is no list of learning objectives in each chapter.
• The chapter summaries are not formatted the same.
o These can be difficult for students to gauge “what’s important” for exams.
• There are no evaluative tools in each chapter.
• The bibliographies are a bit too excessive/unnecessary for the scope of the course.
• The text includes 3 chapters in North America & Europe, however only one on Africa. All of Africa competes with Native America for one chapter each. Also, only one on all of South/Central America. No focus on Cuba/Haiti. Barely mentions Jamaica.