Musical Travel Guide to a Country

Pick a Latin American country or culture that wasn’t discussed (or was only briefly mentioned) in the reading. It could be any country or culture south of the U.S.-Mexico border that was not included in the reading. Pretend you are writing this piece for a musical travel guide—a travel guide that is intended to give tourists some insight into the musical culture and musical history of that region or ethnic community. Make it informative (you want the traveler to really know what is special about the place they are in). Someone else will write the part about what clubs to visit, etc. Your job is mainly to give the overall sense of the place, musically; the history, special features, styles, instruments. You can do Internet research or look in books at the library. You can again look at CD or record liner notes, but don’t make that the only source. Remember that some of what you find on the Internet may be wrong, outdated, or incomplete. So check the source. If you have a chance to listen to some examples, that would be great. You might find some on YouTube, or you might be able to locate something from your school or public library (or library system), or you could download/purchase something, but this is not required. List your sources (there should be at least four) at the end

Start by saying why this culture is important and what makes the music there interesting overall. What is main thing it is known for? What has the general impact of this culture been on the rest of the world, and how has the rest of world impacted this culture? You can show enthusiasm for the topic, but don’t be flowery. Keep it simple and straightforward.
Even though this is part of a musical travel guide, describe the basic geographical features of the country and its location, especially any features that have impacted the culture (the setting).
Give a brief history of the country or culture, including any major issues that changed or affected the culture.
Describe how the music is used in that culture. Are there entertainment uses? Spiritual uses? Is it used for work?
List the key features of that music, especially the things that let a listener know that it comes from that area or culture.
What are the main instruments? (Include idiophones, membranophones, chordophones, and aerophones, if possible.) Point out any that are particularly characteristic to this area or culture, or that originate there.
What are the main traditional song forms and music styles? What about contemporary music forms and styles? Are there any well-known songs or singers from this area, either from the past or present?
Compare this country or culture to one or two other countries or cultures that are described in this lesson. Find one that is similar and one that seems different, and say how. Some discussion of percussion will probably be important here.
How does this culture exhibit common Latin American music features in general?

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