Senior Honors Theses

Publication Date



College of Arts and Sciences


Music: Instrumental

Primary Subject Area



Exoticism, Romanticism, Impressionism, Soundtrack, Ethnic Music, Opera, Orientalism


Composition | Fine Arts | Musicology | Music Theory | Other Film and Media Studies | Theory and Criticism


Western art music has drawn on many sources. One of these is non-western music, which can be integrated into European classical music tradition in the form of exoticism. This paper will highlight musical elements used by composers seeking to create exoticism, examine selected works, and note common elements of western music that have exotic roots. In the nineteenth century, there were three general trends in exoticism. The first, non-musical exoticism, utilizes conventional western music alongside extra-musical exotic elements. Romantic exoticism portrays distant lands using musical elements, drawing these from the audience’s perceptions of the music represented. Realistic exoticism attempts to portray another music tradition as accurately as possible. Of the three, the major trend in exoticism in the nineteenth century was Romantic Exoticism.