Spring 2011


Worship and Music - Ethnomusicology


Master of Arts (MA)


Katherine Morehouse

Primary Subject Area

Music; Education, Music


Andhra Pradesh, South India, Children, Cinema music, Folk Music, Music Education, Music Language


Singing from the Village brings to light some basic problems in education for a village school near Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, South India. While problems of poverty, social strife, possible over use of rote learning, lack of critical and creative thinking are discussed, the focus of this study is the problem of how the children hear western melodies differently because of the musical vocabulary their ears and brains have become accustomed to in their village. Singing from the Village attempts to examine village songs and compare them to a western children's song, Praise Him, Praise Him sung each day at the school. Praise Him, Praise Him sounds very different when the children sing it at this school than it does in a western school setting. One possible reason for this discrepancy is that the musical influences of the children are different from that of western children. Indian children hear their mothers sing in the village, they hear cinema music through the media, they hear tribal music down the street, and they hear western choruses at school. They seem to enjoy the songs in closely varying degrees. However, matching the pitches of some western songs seems to be difficult for them. It is quite possible that the pitches are difficult to sing because the melodies of the village and the melodies of western children's songs have a different musical vocabulary. Praise Him, Praise Him seems to be built on tertian harmony of western music, using minor thirds and less glissandi passages. The village music seems to be based mostly on intervals smaller than a third, though occasionally there are larger intervals with limited usage. Many gamakas (similar to glissandi and ornamentation in western music) are used in village singing. Singing from the Village concludes that the song styles and melodies are different because they are based on the different ways melodic intervals are used or not used in South Indian and western folk and children's songs. By giving an overview of the general and specific problems related to education at this school and discovering the differences in the melodies of the songs gathered, the author shows the possibilities of future research which would describe the musical vocabulary of the village in greater detail. With completion of such research, much like Zoltán Kodály, encouraging teachers and students to compose songs based on the musical vocabulary of this area could be the catalyst these children need to learn basic academic skills, critical thinking, and creativity. Learning to think critically and creatively could encourage these children to address the problems of poverty, social strife, and education as they become leaders in the future.