Comparing American and Kuwaiti Music


ComparingAmerican and Kuwaiti Music

ComparingAmerican and Kuwaiti Music

Theimportance of music cannot be gainsaid as far as the wellbeing andcohesion of the society is concerned. It is well acknowledged thatmusic plays an incredible role in the education and entertainment ofindividuals in a particular region, as well as in passing messages ofpeace and love among others. Needless to say, music, like otherliterary works, may be used in varied ways including criticizing thesociety within which the producer lives and imbuing ideas regardingthe changes that should be made so as to make the society a betterplace. Further, it is well noted that music will always varydepending on the times or generations under examination and theregion. This is the case for American and Kuwaiti music. While theremay be varying similarities between the two countries’ music, thereare numerous aspects in which the two differ.

Oneof the key differences between Kuwaiti and American music revolvesaround the type of instruments that are used in the two categories.Kuwaiti music is, primarily, Arabic, which mostly uses Arabic guitarsreferred to as Oud. The Oud is only acoustic and incorporates between8 and ten strings. In the case of drums, Arabian drums referred to asDoumbek are used in Kuwaiti and incorporate a considerably moreintricate design with the shape of a goblet (Walker, 2006). The kafirharp used in Kuwaiti music is primarily used in religious gathering.Further, Arabian flutes used in Kuwaiti music are made from bambootrees, unlike the American flutes that are primarily metallic. It isno wonder that it would take quite longer for an individual to masterArabian flute. This is different from the American music, whereAmerican guitars may be electric or acoustic and incorporate 6strings (Walker, 2006). In the case of drums, American drums areconsiderably simpler and come in just a circular shape. Further, thedesign of the American harp is different from that used in Kuwaitimusic as the former is always standing up while the later lies on itsside.

Further,there are variations between the two countries’ music with regardto their syncopation. The term syncopation underlines the stressingof a beat that would often not be emphasized on in the course of aparticular song. Syncopation is a key feature in a large number ofpop music collections, where the backbeat of a large number of themwould be syncopated so as to stand out or be distinctive from theother parts of the song. This is particularly true or evident in thecase of “dance” tunes where the syncopation comes with aconsistent beat that the dancers can keep time to. However, this isdifferent from Kuwaiti music which is deficient of such form ofsyncopation, rather a large proportion of its beats is pretty muchthe same throughout the songs.

Further,there are variations between the two countries’ music with regardto their melodies. The melodies pertaining to a song usuallyunderlines a repeated series of notes or motifs that are played in aconsistent manner throughout the song. The melodies pertaining to alarge proportion of Kuwaiti music, like most of the Arabic andEuropean songs, are often precise and consistent throughout the songs(Ritossa &amp Rickard, 2004). This is different from the Americanmusic, which often incorporates numerous unusual melodies that may beextremely short or extremely long or even persistently changethroughout the songs (Walker, 2006). A particular example may be thejazz music that is a prevalent form of music in the American society.In jazz versions pertaining to a song from a different genre, themusicians usually improvise or make changes or customize the originalmelodies so as to turn them into something that is entirely differentfrom what it was initially (Walker, 2006).

Onthe same note, there is a distinction between the two countries’music with regard to the duration of their notes. In the case ofAmerican music, it is common to have “swung notes” where the timevalue pertaining to a note changes several times. For instance, twonotes may often be written down as having similar durations, but themusicians may play the first note considerably quickly while holdingthe second note a bit longer (Ritossa &amp Rickard, 2004). Indeed,it is common for musicians to alternate the long and short durationsso as to come up with an entirely different rhythm pertaining to thissong. This is pretty uncommon in the case of Kuwaiti music where themusicians place immense and strict emphasis on the note duration,which has to be followed to the letter.

Whilethere may be varying differences between the two countries music,there are varied similarities as well. First, it is evident that thetwo countries’ music is similar with regard to the influences ofother cultures and countries on it. Indeed, it is noted that theAmerican music has drawn immense influence from the varied races andcultural groups that are in the country, in which case it would bedifficult to have a distinctively American music that is not a blendof the varied countries music or that does not have the influence ofother countries (Ritossa &amp Rickard, 2004). This is also the casefor Kuwaiti music, which has particularly been influenced by theSwahili and Indian music. Indeed, it has well been acknowledged thatKuwaiti music, just like American music, is a reflection of thediverse influences pertaining to the numerous people on the cultureof the country (Ritossa &amp Rickard, 2004). For instance, Khaleejiunderlines a style of folk music emanating from Persian Gulf butprevalent in Kuwait with polyrhythms. This style has drawn stronginfluence from music in southern Persia and Africa.

Inaddition, the two countries have different or distinctive types ofmusic made for different occasions (Ritossa &amp Rickard, 2004). Forinstance, the kind of music that is sang in religious occasions isquite different from the type that is sang on occasions such asweddings. In no cases would such songs be sung in the same occasionsas they are bound to send a particular message, which could entailcomforting the individuals or celebrating a particular achievement orsimply for entertainment.

Inconclusion, Kuwaiti and American music comes with varying differencesand similarities including the manner in which they are sang, as wellas the variations in the notes and the durations. However, it isevident that they have the bottom line of sending a particularmessage, in which case they are made for distinctive occasions thatcan never be mixed or blended. American music, nevertheless, seems tobe a bit more flexible with regard to the manner in which the noteswritten have to be played.


Ritossa,D. A., &amp Rickard, N. S. (2004). The relative utility of`pleasantness and liking` dimensions in predicting the emotionsexpressed by music. Psychologyof Music,32(1), 5-22

Walker,L. B. (2006). Influence of musical characteristics on stylepreferences of African American students in urban areas. Bulletinof the Council for Research in Music Education,168, 7-19.