The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound - Andrew Killick

The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound - Andrew Killick

Popular and Traditional Musics of Indigenous Peoples

The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound - Andrew Killick

Andrew Killick [+-]
University of Sheffield
Andrew Killick has been teaching and writing about the world’s music professionally since 1998. His passion for all forms of music has led him literally around the world, including studies at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Hawaii, and the University of Washington, periods of fieldwork in India and Korea, and teaching at Illinois State University and Florida State University before taking up his current position at the University of Sheffield in 2003. Originally trained as a classical pianist, he also plays the Korean gayageum zither and an English bagpipe, the Northumbrian smallpipes. His academic publications include two books on Korean music topics, about twenty refereed journal articles and book chapters, and substantial contributions to the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and the Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. In his spare time he likes to compose “rounds” in a wide variety of musical styles.


In contrast to the far-flung cultural connections of Southeast Asia and the advanced technology required to produce the precisely-tuned metallic instruments of the gamelan, indigenous peoples around the world are often regarded as culturally isolated and technologically simple. This stereotype is dispelled by considering how popular music styles like country and rap have been embraced by Native Americans and Australian Aboriginals, in each case adapting the style to suit their own concerns and identities. Thus we raise a general theme that is crucial for understanding today’s musical world: because the music people value is that which best expresses their sense of who they are, and because people around the world increasingly see themselves as modern and connected to international currents while still rooted in distinctive locales and communities, the music that is more and more in demand is music with both modern (international) and traditional (local) elements. And because these identities are constantly changing, new forms of music are constantly being created to express them, contrary to long-held fears of cultural homogenization. Returning to particular cases, the older elements in the current musical cultures of Native Americans and Australian Aboriginals are traced back as far as possible to what they might have been before contact with Europeans, revealing in particular how these musical cultures were related to their living environments and subsistence patterns. Extending that process, we consider whether the music of societies that do remain relatively isolated and technologically simple, for instance in the Amazon rainforest and Papua New Guinea, might have anything to tell us about what the earliest human music was like, on the archaeological principle of “ethnographic analogy.” But we find that even the remotest societies have some music in their repertoire that they recognize as having come from other groups, and the likelihood is that no human society has ever formed an isolated “music culture” like those imagined by some Western writers.

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Killick, Andrew. Popular and Traditional Musics of Indigenous Peoples. The Making of the Musical World - A Story in Sound. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Sep 2026. ISBN 9781781793411. Date accessed: 15 Jun 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.27332. Sep 2026

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