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Philippine Literature In The Spanish Colonial Period

The existing literature of the Philippine ethnic groups at the time of conquest and conversion into Christianity was mainly oral, consisting of epics, legends, songs, riddles, and proverbs. The conquistador, especially its ecclesiastical arm, destroyed whatever written literature he could find, and hence rendered the system of writing inoperable. Among the only native systems of writing that have survived are the syllabaries of the Mindoro Mangyans and the Tagbanua of Palawan. The Spanish colonial strategy was to undermine the native oral tradition by substituting for it the story of the Passion of Christ.

Although Christ was by no means war-like or sexually attractive as many of the heroes of the oral epic tradition, the appeal of the Jesus myth inhered in the protagonist’s superior magic: by promising eternal life for everyone, he democratized the power to rise above death. It is to be emphasized, however, that the native tradition survived and even flourished in areas inaccessible to the colonial power.

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Moreover, the tardiness and the lack of assiduity of the colonial administration in making a public educational system work meant the survival of oral tradition, or what was left of it, among the conquered tribes.

The church authorities adopted a policy of spreading the Church doctrines by communicating to the native (pejoratively called Indio) in his own language. Doctrina Christiana (1593), the first book to be printed in the Philippines, was a prayerbook written in Spanish with an accompanying Tagalog translation. It was, however, for the exclusive use of the missionaries who invariably read them aloud to the unlettered Indio catechumens (Medina), who were to rely mainly on their memory.

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But the task of translating religious instructional materials obliged the Spanish missionaries to take a most practical step, that of employing native speakers as translators. Eventually, the native translator learned to read and write both in Spanish and his native language. (Forms of Literature)This development marked the beginning of Indio literacy and thus spurred the creation of the first written literary native text by the native. These writers, called ladinos because of their fluency in both Spanish and Tagalog, published their work, mainly devotional poetry, in the first decade of the 17th century. Among the earliest writers of note were Francisco de San Jose and Francisco Bagongbata (Medina).

But by far the most gifted of these native poet-translators was Gaspar Aquino de Belen (Lumbera, p.14). Mahal Na Pasion ni Jesu Christo, a Tagalog poem based on Christ’s passion, was published in 1704. This long poem, original and folksy in its rendition of a humanized, indeed, a nativized Jesus, is a milestone in the history of Philippine letters. Ironically — and perhaps just because of its profound influence on the popular imagination — as artifact it marks the beginning of the end of the old mythological culture and a conversion to the new paradigm introduced by the colonial power. Until the 19th century, the printing presses were owned and managed by the religious orders. Thus, religious themes dominated the culture of the Christianized majority. But the native oral literature, whether secular or mythico-religious continued. Even among the Christianized ethnic groups, the oral tradition persisted in such forms as legends, sayings, wedding songs such as the balayan and parlor theater such as the duplo.

In the 18th century, secular literature from Spain in the form of medieval ballads inspired the native poetic-drama form called the komedya, later to be called moro-moro because these often dealt with the theme of Christians triumphing over Moslems. (Peronality) Jose de la Cruz (1746 – 1829) was the foremost exponent of the komedya during his time. A poet of prodigious output and urbane style, de la Cruz marks a turning point in that his elevated diction distinguishes his work from folk idiom (as for instance, that of Gaspar Aquino de Belen). Yet his appeal to the non-literate was universal. The popularity of the dramatic form, of which he was a master, was due to it being experienced as performance both by the lettered minority and the illiterate but genuinely appreciative majority. Francisco Baltazar (1788 – 1862), popularly called Balagtas, is the acknowledged master of traditional Tagalog poetry. Of peasant origins, he left his hometown in Bigaa, Bulacan for Manila, with a strong determination to improve his lot through education. To support his studies, he worked as a domestic servant in Tondo.

He steeped himself in classical studies in schools of prestige in the capital. Great social and political changes in the world worked together to make Balagtas’ career as poet possible. The industrial revolution had caused a great movement of commerce in the globe, creating wealth and the opportunity for material improvement in the life of the working classes. With these great material changes, social values were transformed, allowing greater social mobility. In short, he was a child of the global bourgeois revolution. Liberal ideas, in time, broke class — and, in the Philippines — even racial barriers (Medina). The word Filipino, which used to refer to a restricted group (i.e., Spaniards born in the Philippines) expanded to include not only the acculturated wealthy Chinese mestizo but also the acculturated Indio (Medina). Balagtas was one of the first Indios to become a Filipino. But the crucial element in Balagtas’ unique genius is that, being caught between two cultures (the native and the colonial/classical), he could switch codes (or was perceived by his compatriot audience to be switching codes), provide insight and information to his oppressed compatriots in the very style and guise of a tradition provided him by a foreign (and oppressive) culture.

His narrative poem Florante at Laura written in sublime Tagalog, is about tyranny in Albanya, but it is also perceived to be about tyranny in his Filipino homeland (Lumbera). Despite the foreign influence, however, he remained true to his native traditions. His verse plays were performed to the motley crowd. His poems were sung by the literate for the benefit of the unlettered. The metrical regularity and rhyme performed their age-old mnemonic function, despite and because of the introduction of printing. Printing overtook tradition. The printed page, by itself, became the mnemonic device, the stage set for the development of prose. The first Filipino novel was Ninay, written in Spanish by Pedro Paterno, a Philippine-bornilustrado (Medina p. 93). Following the sentimental style of his first book Sampaguitas (a collection of poems in Spanish), the novel endeavored to highlight the endearingly unique qualities of Filipinos. National Hero Jose Rizal (1861 – 1896) chose the realistic novel as his medium. Choosing Spanish over Tagalog meant challenging the oppressors on the latter’s own turf.

By writing in prose, Rizal also cut his ties with the Balagtas tradition of the figurative indirection which veiled the supposed subversiveness of many writings at that time. Rizal’s two novels, the Noli Me Tangere and its sequel El Filibusterismo, chronicle the life and ultimate death of Ibarra, a Filipino educated abroad, who attempts to reform his country through education. At the conclusion of the Noli, his efforts end in near-death and exile from his country. In the Filibusterismo, he returns after reinventing himself as Simoun, the wealthy jeweler, and hastens social decay by further corrupting the social fabric till the oppressed react violently to overthrow the system. But the insurrection is foiled and Simoun suffers a violent death. In a sense, Rizal’s novels and patriotic poems were the inevitable conclusion to the campaign for liberal reforms known as the Propaganda Movement, waged by Graciano Lopez Jaena, and M.H. del Pilar.

The two novels so vividly portrayed corruption and oppression that despite the lack of any clear advocacy, they served to instill the conviction that there could be no solution to the social ills but a violent one. Following closely on the failed reformist movement, and on Rizal’s novels, was the Philippine revolution headed by Andres Bonifacio (1863 – 1897). His closest aide, the college-bred Emilio Jacinto (1875 – 1899), was the revolutionary organization’s ideologue. Both were admirers of Rizal, and like Rizal, both were writers and social critics profoundly influenced by the liberal ideas of the French enlightenment, about human dignity. Bonifacio’s most important work are his poems, the most well-known being Pag-Ibig Sa Tinubuang Lupa.

Jacinto wrote political essays expressed in the language of the folk. Significantly, although either writer could have written in Spanish (Bonifacio, for instance, wrote a Tagalog translation of Rizal’s Ultimo Adios), both chose to communicate to their fellowmen in their own native language. The figure of Rizal dominates Philippine literature until the present day. Liberalism led to education of the native and the ascendancy of Spanish. But Spanish was undermined by the very ideas of liberation that it helped spread, and its decline led to nativism and a renaissance of literature in the native languages. The turn of the century witnessed not only the Philippine revolution but a quieter though no less significant outbreak. The educated women of the period produced significant poetry. Gregoria de Jesus, wife of Andres Bonifacio, wrote notable Tagalog poetry. Meanwhile, in Vigan of the Ilocano North, Leona Florentino, by her poetry, became the foremost Ilocano writer of her time.

Philippine literary production during the American Period in the Philippines was spurred by two significant developments in education and culture. One is the introduction of free public instruction for all children of school age and two, the use of English as medium of instruction in all levels of education in public schools. Free public education made knowledge and information accessible to a greater number of Filipinos. Those who availed of this education through college were able to improve their social status and joined a good number of educated masses who became part of the country’s middle class.

The use of English as medium of instruction introduced Filipinos to Anglo-American modes of thought, culture and life ways that would be embedded not only in the literature produced but also in the psyche of the country’s educated class. It was this educated class that would be the wellspring of a vibrant Philippine Literature in English. Philippine literature in English, as a direct result of American colonization of the country, could not escape being imitative of American models of writing especially during its period of apprenticeship. The poetry written by early poets manifested studied attempts at versification as in the following poem which is proof of the poet’s rather elementary exercise in the English language: Vacation days at last are here,

And we have time for fun so dear,
All boys and girls do gladly cheer,
This welcomed season of the year.
In early June in school we’ll meet;
A harder task shall we complete
And if we fail we must repeat
That self same task without retreat.
We simply rest to come again
To school where boys and girls obtain
The Creator’s gift to men
Whose sanguine hopes in us remain.
Vacation means a time for play
For young and old in night and day
My wish for all is to be gay,
And evil none lead you astray

– Juan F. Salazar Philippines Free Press, May 9, 1909

The poem was anthologized in the first collection of poetry in English, Filipino Poetry, edited by Rodolfo Dato (1909 – 1924). Among the poets featured in this anthology were Proceso Sebastian Maximo Kalaw, Fernando Maramag, Leopoldo Uichanco, Jose Ledesma, Vicente Callao, Santiago Sevilla, Bernardo Garcia, Francisco Africa, Pablo Anzures, Carlos P. Romulo, Francisco Tonogbanua, Juan Pastrana, Maria Agoncillo, Paz Marquez Benitez, Luis Dato and many others. Another anthology, The English German Anthology of Poets edited by Pablo Laslo was published and covered poets published from 1924-1934 among whom were Teofilo D. Agcaoili, Aurelio Alvero, Horacio de la Costa, Amador T. Daguio, Salvador P. Lopez, Angela Manalang Gloria, Trinidad Tarrosa, Abelardo Subido and Jose Garcia Villa, among others. A third pre-war collection of poetry was edited by Carlos Bulosan, Chorus for America: Six Philippine Poets. The six poets in this collection were Jose Garcia Villa, Rafael Zulueta da Costa, Rodrigo T. Feria, C.B. Rigor, Cecilio Baroga and Carlos Bulosan.

In fiction, the period of apprenticeship in literary writing in English is marked by imitation of the style of storytelling and strict adherence to the craft of the short story as practiced by popular American fictionists. Early short story writers in English were often dubbed as the Andersons or Saroyans or the Hemingways of Philippine letters. Leopoldo Yabes in his study of the Philippine short story in English from 1925 to 1955 points to these models of American fiction exerting profound influence on the early writings of story writers like Francisco Arcellana, A.E. Litiatco, Paz Latorena. . When the University of the Philippines was founded in 1908, an elite group of writers in English began to exert influence among the culturati. The U.P. Writers Club founded in 1926, had stated that one of its aims was to enhance and propagate the “language of Shakespeare.” In 1925, Paz Marquez Benitez short story, “Dead Stars” was published and was made the landmark of the maturity of the Filipino writer in English. Soon after Benitez, short story writers began publishing stories no longer imitative of American models.

Thus, story writers like Icasiano Calalang, A.E. Litiatco, Arturo Rotor, Lydia Villanueva, Paz Latorena , Manuel Arguilla began publishing stories manifesting both skilled use of the language and a keen Filipino sensibility. This combination of writing in a borrowed tongue while dwelling on Filipino customs and traditions earmarked the literary output of major Filipino fictionists in English during the American period. Thus, the major novels of the period, such as the Filipino Rebel, by Maximo Kalaw, and His Native Soil by Juan C. Laya, are discourses on cultural identity, nationhood and being Filipino done in the English language. Stories such as “How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife” by Manuel Arguilla scanned the scenery as well as the folkways of Ilocandia while N.V. M. Gonzales’s novels and stories such as “Children of the Ash Covered Loam,” present the panorama of Mindoro, in all its customs and traditions while configuring its characters in the human dilemma of nostalgia and poverty.

Apart from Arguilla and Gonzales, noted fictionists during the period included Francisco Arcellana, whom Jose Garcia Villa lauded as a “genius” storyteller, Consorcio Borje, Aida Rivera, Conrado Pedroche, Amador Daguio, Sinai Hamada, Hernando Ocampo, Fernando Maria Guerrero. Jose Garcia Villa himself wrote several short stories but devoted most of his time to poetry. In 1936, when the Philippine Writers League was organized, Filipino writers in English began discussing the value of literature in society. Initiated and led by Salvador P. Lopez, whose essays on Literature and Society provoked debates, the discussion centered on proletarian literature, i.e., engaged or committed literature versus the art for art’s sake literary orientation. But this discussion curiously left out the issue of colonialism and colonial literature and the whole place of literary writing in English under a colonial set-up that was the Philippines then. With Salvador P. Lopez, the essay in English gained the upper hand in day to day discourse on politics and governance.

Polemicists who used to write in Spanish like Claro M. Recto, slowly started using English in the discussion of current events even as newspaper dailies moved away from Spanish reporting into English. Among the essayists, Federico Mangahas had an easy facility with the language and the essay as genre. Other noted essayists during the period were Fernando Maramag, Carlos P. Romulo , Conrado Ramirez. On the other hand, the flowering of a vibrant literary tradition due to historical events did not altogether hamper literary production in the native or indigenous languages. In fact, the early period of the 20th century was remarkable for the significant literary output of all major languages in the various literary genre. (Forms Of lit) It was during the early American period that seditious plays, using the form of the zarsuwela, were mounted. Zarsuwelistas Juan Abad, Aurelio Tolentino ,Juan Matapang Cruz. Juan Crisostomo Sotto mounted the classics like Tanikalang Ginto, Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas and Hindi Ako Patay, all directed against the American imperialists.

Patricio Mariano’s Anak ng Dagat and Severino Reyes’s Walang Sugat are equally remarkable zarsuwelas staged during the period. On the eve of World War II, Wilfredo Maria Guerrero would gain dominance in theatre through his one-act plays which he toured through his “mobile theatre”. Thus, Wanted a Chaperone and The Forsaken House became very popular in campuses throughout the archipelago. The novel in Tagalog, Iloko, Hiligaynon and Sugbuanon also developed during the period aided largely by the steady publication of weekly magazines like the Liwayway, Bannawag and Bisaya which serialized the novels. Among the early Tagalog novelists of the 20th century were Ishmael Amado, Valeriano Hernandez Peña, Faustino Aguilar, Lope K. Santos and Lazaro Francisco. Ishmael Amado’s Bulalakaw ng Pag-asa published in 1909 was one of the earliest novels that dealt with the theme of American imperialism in the Philippines.

The novel, however, was not released from the printing press until 1916, at which time, the author, by his own admission and after having been sent as a pensionado to the U.S., had other ideas apart from those he wrote in the novel. Valeriano Hernandez Peña’s Nena at Neneng narrates the story of two women who happened to be best of friends as they cope with their relationships with the men in their lives. Nena succeeds in her married life while Neneng suffers from a stormy marriage because of her jealous husband. Faustino Aguilar published Pinaglahuan, a love triangle set in the early years of the century when the worker’s movement was being formed. The novel’s hero, Luis Gatbuhay, is a worker in a printery who isimprisoned for a false accusation and loses his love, Danding, to his rival Rojalde, son of a wealthy capitalist. Lope K. Santos, Banaag at Sikat has almost the same theme and motif as the hero of the novel, Delfin, also falls in love with a rich woman, daughter of a wealthy landlord. The love story of course is set also within the background of development of the worker’s trade union movement and throughout the novel, Santos engages the readers in lengthy treatises and discourses on socialism and capitalism.

Many other Tagalog novelists wrote on variations of the same theme, i.e., the interplay of fate, love and social justice. Among these writers are Inigo Ed Regalado, Roman Reyes, Fausto J. Galauran, Susana de Guzman, Rosario de Guzman-Lingat, Lazaro Francisco, Hilaria Labog, Rosalia Aguinaldo, Amado V. Hernandez. Many of these writers were able to produce three or more novels as Soledad Reyes would bear out in her book which is the result of her dissertation, Ang Nobelang Tagalog (1979). Among the Iloko writers, noted novelists were Leon Pichay, who was also the region’s poet laureate then, Hermogenes Belen, and Mena Pecson Crisologo whose Mining wenno Ayat ti Kararwa is considered to be the Iloko version of a Noli me Tangere. In the Visayas, Magdalena Jalandoni and Ramon Muzones would lead most writers in writing the novels that dwelt on the themes of love, courtship, life in the farmlands, and other social upheavals of the period. Marcel Navarra wrote stories and novels in Sugbuhanon. Poetry in all languages continued to flourish in all regions of the country during the American period. The Tagalogs, hailing Francisco F. Balagtas as the nation’s foremost poet invented the balagtasan in his honor.

Thebalagtasan is a debate in verse, a poetical joust done almost spontaneously between protagonists who debate over the pros and cons of an issue. The first balagtasan was held in March 1924 at the Instituto de Mujeres, with Jose Corazon de Jesus and Florentino Collantes as rivals, bubuyog (bee) and paru-paro (butterfly) aiming for the love of kampupot (jasmine). It was during this balagtasan that Jose Corazon de Jesus, known as Huseng Batute, emerged triumphant to become the first king of the Balagtasan. Jose Corazon de Jesus was the finest master of the genre. He was later followed by balagtasistas, Emilio Mar Antonio and Crescenciano Marquez, who also became King of the Balagtasan in their own time. As Huseng Batute, de Jesus also produced the finest poems and lyrics during the period. His debates with Amado V. Hernandez on the political issue of independence from America and nationhood were mostly done in verse and are testament to the vitality of Tagalog poetry during the era.

Lope K. Santos, epic poem, Ang Panggingera is also proof of how poets of the period have come to master the language to be able to translate it into effective poetry. The balagtasan would be echoed as a poetical fiesta and would be duplicated in the Ilocos as thebukanegan, in honor of Pedro Bukaneg, the supposed transcriber of the epic, Biag ni Lam-ang; and theCrissottan, in Pampanga, in honor of the esteemed poet of the Pampango, Juan Crisostomo Sotto. In 1932, Alejandro G. Abadilla , armed with new criticism and an orientation on modernist poetry would taunt traditional Tagalog poetics with the publication of his poem, “Ako ang Daigdig.” Abadilla’s poetry began the era of modernism in Tagalog poetry, a departure from the traditional rhymed, measured and orally recited poems. Modernist poetry which utilized free or blank verses was intended more for silent reading than oral delivery. Noted poets in Tagalog during the American period were Julian Cruz Balmaceda, Florentino Collantes, Pedro Gatmaitan, Jose Corazon de Jesus, Benigno Ramos, Inigo Ed. Regalado, Ildefonso Santos, Lope K. Santos, Aniceto Silvestre, Emilio Mar. Antonio , Alejandro Abadilla and Teodoro Agoncillo.

Like the writers in English who formed themselves into organizations, Tagalog writers also formed the Ilaw at Panitik, and held discussions and workshops on the value of literature in society. Benigno Ramos, was one of the most politicized poets of the period as he aligned himself with the peasants of the Sakdal Movement. Fiction in Tagalog as well as in the other languages of the regions developed alongside the novel. Most fictionists are also novelists. Brigido Batungbakal , Macario Pineda and other writers chose to dwell on the vicissitudes of life in a changing rural landscape. Deogracias Del Rosario on the other hand, chose the city and the emerging social elite as subjects of his stories.

He is considered the father of the modern short story in Tagalog Among the more popular fictionists who emerged during the period are two women writers, Liwayway Arceo and Genoveva Edroza Matute, considered forerunners in the use of “light” fiction, a kind of story telling that uses language through poignant rendition. Genoveva Edroza Matute’s “Ako’y Isang Tinig” and Liwayway Arceo’s “Uhaw ang Tigang na Lupa” have been used as models of fine writing in Filipino by teachers of composition throughout the school system.

Teodoro Agoncillo’s anthology 25 Pinakamahusay na Maiikling Kuwento (1945) included the foremost writers of fiction in the pre-war era. The separate, yet parallel developments of Philippine literature in English and those in Tagalog and other languages of the archipelago during the American period only prove that literature and writing in whatever language and in whatever climate are able to survive mainly through the active imagination of writers. Apparently, what was lacking during the period was for the writers in the various languages to come together, share experiences and come to a conclusion on the elements that constitute good writing in the Philippines.

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The Spanish Colonization in the Philippines

The Philippines was very lucky because our country was rich in natural resources. And that is the reason why many foreign countries had colonized our country. Spain is one of the foreign countries that colonized our country for more than three hundred years. They are the reason why Filipinos experienced suffered, hardship, persecution etc. during their colonization. But the Spanish had also contributes good things in our country specially to us Filipinos. The Spanish colonization in the Philippines lead to us to make some questions in our mind on how does the Filipino survived? Even though they experienced the inhumanity of the Spaniards.

We can say that the Filipino during the time of the Spanish was so very poor and pity because the Spaniards treated the Filipino people not as human being but as their slaves. They abused the Filipino. The lives of the Filipinos during the Spanish colonization was so very difficult. They never experienced the “freedom”.

Even though there are many negative things that the Spaniards given to the Filipinos but there is still positive contributions that the Spanish government given to us.

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And one of this positive contribution is their culture. The Spanish people introduced us what are their culture like they introduced us their Latin alphabet, the art of painting, the appearance of Theocratic Literature, the persistence of folk and colonial art and the Hispanic music and western musical instrument. This contributions brought such good things in the Filipinos because this things helped us to improved our culture and ourselves.

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The Spanish government also helped the Filipino in their educational situation. The Spanish teach the Filipino children not only about academics but also religious things. They teach them on how to become a God-fearing person. And also the Spanish government founded different schools.

There were primary, secondary, tertiary schools that the Spanish built in our country like the Ateneo, the University of Santo Tomas (UST), the Santa Isabel and many more. And we are very thankful because those schools were still teaching the Filipino people until now. And also the Spanish government transformed the Filipino people socially. Like the hispanization of Filipino surnames. Also the Spanish introduced to the Filipino to used the stone in building construction so that the bahay kubo was transformed into bahay na bato with balcony and we think that was the style of some houses today. And they also changed the mode of Filipino dressing. The Spanish introduced the wearing western coat and trousers or amiricana, which replaced their traditional jacket and bahag for men.

They also encourage the Filipino men to stop using the putong and instead wore hats and they even started wearing slippers and shoes instead of going around barefoot. And for women they started using saya and camisa, replacing their traditional sarong. The women also learned to used manton de manila or shawls and handkerchief and also like the men, the women started using slippers and shoes. The Spanish also influenced us to celebrate religious feasts honoring patron Saints because this is the consequence for being converted into Catholicism. The Spanish changed the lives of Filipino. Even though the Spanish was inhumanity but the Filipino was still lucky because the Spanish people exerted efforts to implement our country by sharing to us the way of their living and those things contributed a lot to us Filipino.

And we also give thanks to the Spanish because they converted the Filipino into Catholicism because if the Spain had not succeeded to colonized our country, then our country would have been a Muslim nation now. Catholicism is the most important contribution that the Spanish given to us. The Spanish colonization in the Philippines brought such poverty, violence, misery to us Filipino. But it also contributes us a lot of good things. They improved and helped our country in many ways.

Even though the Filipino experienced the inhumanity of the Spaniards but still they influenced us the way of their living and until today we still used and make those influences in our daily lives. The only thing that we can say in the Spanish colonization is that we felt different emotions. We felt angry because the Spaniards abused the Filipino they treated them as slaves. We felt sad because their are many Filipinos sacrificed their own lives just for the sake of the country man. And for the freedom of our country. And also we felt happy because the Spaniards contributes many good things in our country, the Philippines.

267 Music Essay Topics + Writing Guide [2022 Update]

Your mood leaves a lot to be desired. Everything around you is getting on your nerves. But still, there’s one thing that may save you: music. Just think of all the times you turned on your favorite song, and it lifted your spirits!

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So, why not write about it in a music essay? In this article, you’ll find all the information necessary for this type of assignment:

And don’t forget to bookmark custom-writing.org where you can find helpful essay tips in articles like this one.

🔝 Music Essay Topics: Top 10

🎵 Essays about Music: What Are They?

A music essay describes or analyzes a piece of music, its context, or one’s personal attitude towards it. This type of assignment requires a compelling primary argument and a clear structure.

To write well about music, you don’t have to be a professional musician. All you need is to be able to listen, understand, and evaluate it. You should also provide your interpretation and opinion on it.

Writing about Music: Assignment Types

An essay on music is a popular assignment in high school and college. However, many students find it hard to describe sounds in a written form. In this article, we will give you some tips on writing about music.

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Here are the typical tasks that you might receive:

Concert report. It requires describing the music you’ve heard using as many details and terms as you can.

Historical analysis of a piece. Your aim is to describe the historical context of a piece or its relation to the historical setting. For this type of assignment, you may need to do some research.

Song analysis. In this type of essay, you explore song lyrics’ meaning and show how they work together with the melody.

Performance or media comparison. Here you need to compare several interpretations or performances of one piece of music.

All of these assignments require a different approach and topic. You will find topics for these types of tasks below.

How to Choose a Music Essay Topic

First things first, you need to find a suitable music essay topic. To accomplish this task, you might want to take the following steps:

Analyze your relationship with music. What role does it play in your life? Your topic choice will be different if you are a musician or merely a listener.

Think about how music influences your everyday life. For instance, you can study how listening to music affects our mental health. Impressing your readers with some historical facts from the world of music is also a great idea.

Try reflecting on the role of different music genres in your life. Whether you prefer rap or classical music, exploring a genre is an excellent topic idea. Topics related to musical instruments are also worth attention.

🎼 Music Essay Topics List

The first thing you need to do is to choose your topic. We have prepared a variety of music topics perfect for research papers and short essays. You can also use them for speeches or college application essays.

Argumentative Essay about Music: Topics & Ideas

Argumentative essays about music are usually concerned with a specific music-related issue you choose to address. Just like with any other argumentative essay, you should present both sides of the topic. Also, reliable facts are a must for this type of essay.

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The influence of modern technologies on the music industry. Technologies allow artists to create and promote their songs independently. Because of this, record labels are less critical to musicians than before. However, the emergence of new technologies also gave rise to piracy. Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

What’s the effect of pop music on the modern generation? Today’s pop songs are usually commercial. Because of this, some people say that pop has ruined the current generations’ perception of music. Others argue that contemporary pop music expanded the possibilities of the genre.

Rock music makes people more aggressive. Some consider rock music merely an arrangement of aggressive tunes that foster violence. On the counter side, science has proven that people who prefer rock to other genres are calmer and more concentrated. Which position do you agree with?

Can people with hearing impairments become famous musicians? Many believe that access to fame and fortune is limited for disabled people. The deaf may seem especially unsuited for the music business. Yet, the examples of Beethoven, Neil Young, and Chris Martin show that hearing problems don’t have to be an issue.

Will streaming completely substitute physical copies? Digitalization is on its way to replacing LPs and CDs. For most people, it’s simply more convenient. But their opponents claim that an MP3 file can never sound as good as a physical copy.

Some music genres can be a catalyst for violence. While their beats may be calm, hip-hop and rap’s lyrics are often aggressive and brutal. Does it have adverse effects on a listener?

Opinion on Music: Essay Topics

Opinion essays about music might seem similar to the argumentative type. Here, you are expected to write your personal opinion on a topic. Naturally, you can have many opinions on musical topics. Why not broadcast them? Keep in mind that you also need to provide reasons for your point of view.

Music therapy can help people with mental illnesses. It’s a well-known fact that music affects the human brain. This ability makes it perfect for treating mental health problems. On the one hand, psychologists established that listening to classical music increases one’s cognitive capacity. On the other hand, listening to heavy rock impacts responsiveness.

The questionable treatment of women in the music industry. While it may seem that both sexes are treated equally, women still earn much less than they deserve. Moreover, the extreme sexualization of girls persists as one of the most pressing problems in the industry.

Which musician or band impacted your worldview? Discuss what makes your favorite artist special. Consider analyzing their lyrics, genre, and evolution. If you want to, add a review of one of their albums.

What are the challenges of being an independent artist? Typically, independent artists deal with all the financial, promotional, and distributional affairs by themselves. In the increasingly complex music business, this is not an easy task.

Is social media efficient for promotion? Almost every modern artist uses social media to promote their albums or songs. Users often check their networks for updates, which increases the musician’s visibility. But do such methods help in the long run?

Passion is the essential personal quality for every musician. If an artist is not eager to continually produce high-quality output, they’re unlikely to succeed. However, qualities such as responsibility, honesty, hard work, and creativity are also vital.

Topics for a Persuasive Essay about Music

Is there anything music-related you want to convince people of? A persuasive paper is your chance. Carefully craft your arguments to show your readers you’ve always been right about the beauty of cowbells. If it’s not your jam, consider these essay topics about music:

A seven-string guitar is superior to a six-string one. The additional string gives more room for creativity. It might be challenging to master, but in the end, the music has a fuller sound. Do you think it’s worth the effort?

The lyrics don’t matter as long as the melody is good. It’s possible to like songs from different countries, even if the listener doesn’t understand the language. The singing is simply part of the composition. Does this mean that what the vocalist says is unimportant?

Most people living in big cities neglect country music. People from urban areas tend to think that country music is tasteless. For them, its tunes and lyrics sound too simple. Does the strong association with cowboys, farms, and long roads simply not appeal to the city lifestyle?

Should rap music be performed only by black people? The genre hosts a large portion of African American artists. Not only that, but black rappers are widely considered the best of their craft. Do white artists do the genre justice?

Music that artists make merely to get money is soulless. Passion is a critical factor for every musician. If money is the primary driver for creating a song, the result is inevitably flawed. Do you agree?

Pop music is undergoing a transformation. Listeners acknowledge pop as the primary genre of contemporary music. Yet, new musical instruments are changing the game. Even the lyrics touch on more serious topics than before.

Indie is the new pop. Indie music is a relatively novel genre. Still, it continues to gain popularity. The light-hearted tunes paired with existential lyrics have captured the audience’s hearts. Is it possible to envision the future of music without bands such as Coldplay, The 1975, and the Arctic Monkeys?

Music Evaluation Essay Topics

Do you want to know how to evaluate music? The point is to divide your overall impression into several parts. Music evaluation requires much attention and concentration, so try to do your best to stay focused while listening.

Use these criteria for evaluating music performances:

Did the performers have passion? Pay attention to their emotions, intonation, and body language.
Did they perform technically well? Here you need to decide whether they played or sang the right notes, follow the rhythm, and make transitions.
How well does their performance represent the culture? Think about how the music is relevant to the time period, nationality, and genre they represent. Evaluate the setting, costumes, and other details.
What were the main flows? Maybe they talked when it wasn’t necessary, or perhaps someone interrupted the performance. Try to notice everything relevant.
Was the performance enjoyable? This question involves a subjective opinion, but it’s better to try to answer it as objectively as possible.

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Discuss the rise and fall of hardcore punk. Many bands that started in the hardcore punk scene softened their sound over time. Why did this genre disappear from the mainstream?

Copyright laws are going too far. It’s getting increasingly difficult to use somebody else’s intellectual property. Creators on YouTube have to fear lawsuits for creatively repurposing copyrighted music. Moreover, laws such as the DMCA are frequently abused to generate revenues.

More bands should use their influence for political purposes. Renowned artists have a broad reach. Bands like Rise Against or Anti Flag use this influence to raise political awareness among their fans. Is it a fair approach?

Borrowing and plagiarism in contemporary music. New artists don’t emerge without having listened to other musicians. They draw inspiration from their predecessors. Thus, songs are always a mix of already existing tracks. In your essay, discuss the difference between homage and plagiarism.

What are the similarities between poetry and song lyrics? Songs and poems are similar in that they deliver a message to the audience. Their creation demands extensive knowledge of rhyming, literary devices, and other components.

Why do some musicians ask others to write lyrics for them? It is a common practice to have a crew of songwriters who create texts for performers. Sometimes it happens due to a lack of imagination or inspiration. Does finding out that your favorite artist doesn’t write their lyrics destroy the magic of their music?

How can popular music diversify as a genre? Pop music reached its peak. Adding and borrowing elements from different genres can be one way to diversify a streamlined genre.

Topics for an Expository Essay on Music

An expository essay explains or describes a subject. In the colorful world of music, topics can range from the physics of sound waves to artists’ social impact.

The importance of Blues music in the late 19 th century and now. Blues originated in the 19 th century American South. It was an outlet for African Americans to express their sorrows. Later, it exceeded by far the cultural boundaries that confined it.

The role of music in prison camps. Singing was an essential part of life in the Nazi concentration camps. One of the most well-known songs of that time is called Peat Bog Soldiers. In your expository essay, explore why prisoners started singing and how it developed.

How did Chester Bennington’s death impact the music industry? Linkin Park was a giant in the business for decades until depression made their lead singer take his own life. The event sparked debates surrounding mental health and pressure in the creative industry. What long-lasting effects did these discussions have?

How did Baroque music reflect the zeitgeist? Compared to the Renaissance period, Baroque was in all aspects very pompous. The artists of the Sun King’s time didn’t shy away from the extravaganza. This ideal is especially prominent in architecture. How does music fit into the picture?

Investigate the development of musical harmony. The Ancient Greeks already had an idea of some tones fitting together better than others. However, it wasn’t until the 1600s that tonality became a crucial part of music theory.

Music in commercials: an analysis. Songs and jingles are commonplace in TV commercials. But what are they good for? In your essay, you can compare the success of advertisements with and without music.

What causes music trends to change? It’s easy to define various eras of music. Naturally, the invention of new instruments has influenced this development. What other factors played a role in these transformations?

How do staccato, legato, and other forms of articulation influence the perception of a musical piece?

History of Music: Essay Topics

If you’re interested in the evolution of music, you’ve come to the right section. Historical research reveals the significance of music throughout time. Unsurprisingly, songs and melodies have been part of human culture for centuries. Dive deeper into this exciting subject with one of the following ideas:

How did the Catholic Church influence music development in Europe? During the Middle Ages, religious movements had a significant impact on music. Consequently, composers used to create more sacred music. It became a way of personal expression since it often contained religious texts.

The cultural meaning of Renaissance music and its influence on other styles. During the time of the Renaissance, sacred and secular music heavily impacted each other. As a result, more variety emerged. The chanson and madrigal, for example, became popular around Europe.

Research archaeological findings of early musicality. The search for the oldest musical instrument delivers thrilling insights. Archaeologists have excavated a flute made of ivory and bird bones, dating approximately 43,000 years ago. They found it in a cave in Germany where Neanderthals lived.

History of early music and appearance of musical instruments. The beginning of the human culture was the turning point of musical instruments’ appearance. They were primarily used for spiritual rites; typically, they were horns or drums for ceremonies.

Louis Armstrong’s contributions to the jazz world. Jazz originated in New Orleans and was a favorite among African Americans. Louis Armstrong’s improvisations forever changed the genre, making the soloist-improviser the center of the performance.

The phenomenon of pop music and its origins. Popular music dates back to the second half of the last century. It comes from the US and the UK. Its main peculiarity lies in the variety of tunes and lyrics.

Native American music before the discovery of the New World. Incas and Aztecs had particular styles of music. Findings show that these ancient civilizations used instruments for ceremonies. Researchers also discovered that various American cultures mingled, thus creating new techniques.

Due to what circumstances did Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart become one of the greatest musical geniuses in history?

Classification Essay about Music: Topic Ideas

In a classification essay, you explain how a whole relates to parts or vice versa. To do it, you need to divide one broad category into several subcategories. Each classification paragraph focuses on one subcategory, so you need to find a key feature that will be your basis of division. For example, you can divide music by genre, volume, musical instruments, etc.

Here is our list of musical topics for this essay type:

The most popular types of alternative music among teenagers. Naturally, teens like different kinds of rock and experimental music. Try to dig deeper and ask some teenagers about their preferences to get a clear picture.

Types of modern dance music. Describe the tendencies and popular genres. You can also focus on a specific country.

The most popular types of jazz music in Europe. Although jazz emerged in the United States, this genre became recognizable all over the world. You can analyze the most popular streamed songs, or the concerts and other mass events.

Rock music in the ’70s. You can describe the genres, styles, or types of performers. The concerts, clothes, and lifestyles are also suitable for this topic.

Blues musicians of different time periods. Analyze the lyrics, the musical instruments they used, and how long their careers lasted.

Classification of music for children. Some of it can be for dancing, development, or just listening. Research the purposes of different kinds of music for children.

Types of music used in films. The soundtrack is one of the main things we remember after watching a movie. There can be popular songs or tracks composed specifically for a film.

College Essay about Music: Topics

When you apply to your dream college, you need to write an impressive essay. Admissions officers pay attention not only to your grades and achievements but also to your personality. Your writing can indicate your motivation, academic interests, and how well you fit into the college. Writing an essay about “music in my life” is a great way to demonstrate your passion and creativity.

Choose one of these topics related to music for your college essay:

The role of music in your life. Describe what music means to you, how often you listen to it, and how it helps you in life. For example, you can write about inspiration, motivation, or the sense of freedom that it gives you.

What are the essential aspects of music for you? Try to write down everything you like about music. It might be melodies, lyrics, vocals, or mood. You can choose several aspects if you feel that you can’t decide.

The time when music changed your life. In this essay, you can pick one occurrence or describe how music changed your life gradually. It’s important to indicate where you started from and where it led you.

How do you see the future of the music industry? Demonstrate to the admissions officer how well you know the art and the business.

Your role model in the music industry. You may write about the qualities of the person you admire and why you want to develop them in yourself. Remember that admission officers want to read about you, not your idol.

How did your musical taste change over the last ten years? Describe the evolution of your preferences. Explain why you have changed some of your past choices. Do you think your musical taste has improved?

Cultural Identity Essay

No matter where you study, composing essays of any type and complexity is a critical component in any studying program. Most likely, you have already been assigned the task to write a cultural identity essay, which is an essay that has to do a lot with your personality and cultural background. In essence, writing a cultural identity essay is fundamental for providing the reader with an understanding of who you are and which outlook you have. This may include the topics of religion, traditions, ethnicity, race, and so on. So, what shall you do to compose a winning cultural identity essay?

Cultural Identity

No matter where you study, composing essays of any type and complexity is a critical component in any studying program. Most likely, you have already been assigned the task to write a cultural identity essay, which is an essay that has to do a lot with your personality and cultural background. In essence, writing a cultural identity essay is fundamental for providing the reader with an understanding of who you are and which outlook you have. This may include the topics of religion, traditions, ethnicity, race, and so on. So, what shall you do to compose a winning cultural identity essay?

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Cultural Identity Paper: Definitions, Goals & Topics

cultural identity essay example

Before starting off with a cultural identity essay, it is fundamental to uncover what is particular about this type of paper. First and foremost, it will be rather logical to begin with giving a general and straightforward definition of a cultural identity essay. In essence, cultural identity essay implies outlining the role of the culture in defining your outlook, shaping your personality, points of view regarding a multitude of matters, and forming your qualities and beliefs. Given a simpler definition, a cultural identity essay requires you to write about how culture has influenced your personality and yourself in general. So in this kind of essay you as a narrator need to give an understanding of who you are, which strengths you have, and what your solid life position is.

Yet, the goal of a cultural identity essay is not strictly limited to describing who you are and merely outlining your biography. Instead, this type of essay pursues specific objectives, achieving which is a perfect indicator of how high-quality your essay is. Initially, the primary goal implies outlining your cultural focus and why it makes you peculiar. For instance, if you are a french adolescent living in Canada, you may describe what is so special about it: traditions of the community, beliefs, opinions, approaches. Basically, you may talk about the principles of the society as well as its beliefs that made you become the person you are today.

So far, cultural identity is a rather broad topic, so you will likely have a multitude of fascinating ideas for your paper. For instance, some of the most attention-grabbing topics for a personal cultural identity essay are:

  • Memorable traditions of your community
  • A cultural event that has influenced your personality
  • Influential people in your community
  • Locations and places that tell a lot about your culture and identity

Cultural Identity Essay Structure

As you might have already guessed, composing an essay on cultural identity might turn out to be fascinating but somewhat challenging. Even though the spectrum of topics is rather broad, the question of how to create the most appropriate and appealing structure remains open.

Like any other kind of an academic essay, a cultural identity essay must compose of three parts: introduction, body, and concluding remarks. Let’s take a more detailed look at each of the components:

Introduction

Starting to write an essay is most likely one of the most time-consuming and mind-challenging procedures. Therefore, you can postpone writing your introduction and approach it right after you finish body paragraphs. Nevertheless, you should think of a suitable topic as well as come up with an explicit thesis. At the beginning of the introduction section, give some hints regarding the matter you are going to discuss. You have to mention your thesis statement after you have briefly guided the reader through the topic. You can also think of indicating some vital information about yourself, which is, of course, relevant to the topic you selected.

Main Body

Your main body should reveal your ideas and arguments. Most likely, it will consist of 3-5 paragraphs that are more or less equal in size. What you have to keep in mind to compose a sound ‘my cultural identity essay’ is the argumentation. In particular, always remember to reveal an argument and back it up with evidence in each body paragraph. And, of course, try to stick to the topic and make sure that you answer the overall question that you stated in your topic. Besides, always keep your thesis statement in mind: make sure that none of its components is left without your attention and argumentation.

Conclusion

Finally, after you are all finished with body paragraphs and introduction, briefly summarize all the points in your final remarks section. Paraphrase what you have already revealed in the main body, and make sure you logically lead the reader to the overall argument. Indicate your cultural identity once again and draw a bottom line regarding how your culture has influenced your personality.

Best Tips For Writing Cultural Identity Essay

Writing a ‘cultural identity essay about myself’ might be somewhat challenging at first. However, you will no longer struggle if you take a couple of plain tips into consideration. Following the tips below will give you some sound and reasonable cultural identity essay ideas as well as make the writing process much more pleasant:

  • Start off by creating an outline. The reason why most students struggle with creating a cultural identity essay lies behind a weak structure. The best way to organize your ideas and let them flow logically is to come up with a helpful outline. Having a reference to build on is incredibly useful, and it allows your essay to look polished.
  • Remember to write about yourself. The task of a cultural identity essay implies not focusing on your culture per se, but to talk about how it shaped your personality. So, switch your focus to describing who you are and what your attitudes and positions are.
  • Think of the most fundamental cultural aspects. Needless to say, you first need to come up with a couple of ideas to be based upon in your paper. So, brainstorm all the possible ideas and try to decide which of them deserve the most attention. In essence, try to determine which of the aspects affected your personality the most.
  • Edit and proofread before submitting your paper. Of course, the content and the coherence of your essay’s structure play a crucial role. But the grammatical correctness matters a lot too. Even if you are a native speaker, you may still make accidental errors in the text. To avoid the situation when unintentional mistakes spoil the impression from your essay, always double check your cultural identity essay.

Сultural Identity Essay Examples

First and foremost, a cultural identity essay is the one where you share your vision of the world and personality. Below is an example that you might consider when writing your next cultural identity essay.

I was born in Italy to a German family. My mother comes from the capital of Germany – Berlin, while my father was born and raised in a small city in Saxony. Two years after I came to this world, my father got a job offer from New York, so my family and I moved there. As it becomes apparent from the background, I was raised under the influence of two different cultures: German and, of course, American. As I was growing up, both cultures’ peculiarities were shaping my personality in different ways. The friends I have, the way I put trust in people, my attitude to work and studying, and my activities – all of these were shaped by the influence of two cultures.

First of all, I have become an incredibly punctual person as soon as I have matured. Some people believe it, while others reject it, but Germany is the country of the most punctual people. As a person who combines studies with work, I am now accustomed to planning all the activities, assignments, and meetings a month in advance. In New York, life is incredibly hectic, so some people have no clue how I literally plan all my life. However, this is the feature that has shaped me and made me become a person who values not only my own time but also the time of other people.

What I value over everything in my life if family and friends. At this point, I may admit that both German and American cultures influenced my attitude towards people, namely my gratitude and commitment. On the one hand, people in Germany value family over anything else; nothing could be more critical. In the USA, people put a lot of trust in friends and make all the efforts to be there for your friend. All in all, as I was being upbrought in both cultures, I can claim that both of them have taught me that family and close friends are the most significant treasure.

When I finished high school, it was time for me to select a college. I have always been passionate about studying, so it was not a surprise for me when I got admitted to my dream college. However, after a few months of studying there, I realized that I was pursuing something that I did not consider my life’s work, so I switched college. Later, I changed it once again. I strongly believe that one has an unlimited number of attempts to find an activity that he or she is indeed compassionate about.

As a working student, I am very dedicated to the work I perform. Sometimes, when I feel enough motivation and life energy, I may work late, even though people of German descent never do this. For me, my craft is one of the most essential things in my life, so it does not matter if I work more than my boss asks me to. The point is, I am dedicated to teamwork, and I can do a lot more than people may expect from me. As long as the job brings me ultimate satisfaction – I will increasingly make efforts to attain goals and prove my leadership abilities.

Finally, I have surrounded myself with people of the most different cultural backgrounds. As an ‘international’ german, I am curious about different cultures, and I appreciate the cultural diversity around me. My friends are mainly from American, British, Asian, and Spanish descent, and all of them have some excellent features I really appreciate.

Overall, I can conclude that the person I have become is mainly due to the two cultures’ influence. I am firmly persuaded that german cultural aspects have positively affected me in a significant way. However, it also holds true that the country you grow up in shapes your personality. I believe that the mix of German and American cultures have made a significant input into making me become a compassionate, punctual, dedicated, and purposive person.

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