Music has the power to bring people together.

When Dan Kruse returns to the Arizona Senior Academy on Wednesday (Sept. 26) for the final program in his ethnomusicology series, he will dive into one of the enduring questions of any study of music.   What is its real meaning in our own experiences and those we share?  How is it manifested and sustained?

In “Music and Meaning,” he will examine ritual, political expression, and shared identities in such musical genres as chants, national anthems, and Zydeco music.  Reflections and insights from the audience will conclude the 90-minute program, which begins at 3:00 p.m.

Common to many cultures, a musical chant may signify a bountiful harvest, a wedding, or a religious rite that brings people together in a shared celebration.   In the 1960s, many non-Asian peoples discovered the beauty and spiritually healing powers of Buddhist meditative chants.

The patriotic lyrics and martial music of national anthems also unite people in a common cause except when they don’t, as we presently see at sports events here and abroad.   Our own anthem celebrating a victorious battle in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” borrowed the melody of a drinking song from an exclusive English gentleman’s club.  Some protesters construe the lyrics in the third stanza as a celebration of slavery.

Dan Kruse

The music of “La Marseillaise,” commemorating the 1792 declaration of war between France and Austria, was so stirring that Napoleon banned it during the Revolution and Tchaikovsky borrowed it for the opening of his “1812 Overture.”

Zydeco, a genre of rhythm and blues expressive of the rural, insular lifestyle of southwest Louisiana, sprang from the music of French Creoles and native peoples.  So did its traditional instruments of washboards and button or piano accordions.

Written by Caroline Bates, Academy Village Volunteer

More Info on attending an event
Academy Village is an active-adult community located off Old Spanish Trail six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park East. Its residents support the Arizona Senior Academy, a non-profit charitable organization whose mission includes offering free concerts and lectures to the public.

These events are held in the Great Room of The ASA Building adjacent to the Academy Village Community Center. Due to the popularity of cultural events, non-residents who wish to ensure priority seating are advised to make reservations by email at or by phone at (520) 647-0980. To learn more about the Academy, go to

Parking for visitors is in the lot behind the Community Center. All parking spaces in front of the Academy building are reserved.


Sept. 26: Music That Brings People Together
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