An Analysis of the Difference between Exoticism and Nationalism in Music

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An Analysis of the Difference between Exoticism and Nationalism inMusic

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The concepts of exoticism and nationalism in the musical world weredeveloped back in the nineteenth century when people sought new andexciting things in the art. Exotic refers to the various qualitiesthat individuals within a given locality become associated withfaraway places and people who live there (Locke, 2015). Nationalism,on the other hand, refers to the association of an individual with aparticular country, ethnicity or region. Therefore, the paperpresents the difference between exoticism and nationalism in music.

Exoticism and nationalism

In music, exoticism emphasizes on portraying strange scenarios andfar away happenings to the original audience. In exoticism, thecomposer highlights strange cultural practices which the audiencedepicts them as foreign. Besides, exotic music tends to displaytraits that appear surprising by conveying fear, obsession, andyearnings that are prevalent in the home culture. However, composersmake such feelings to become acceptable by masking them in asemblance of otherness (Locke, 2015). An example of music with exoticcharacteristics is &quotTabuh-Tabuhan&quot composed by a Canadianknown as Colin McPhee. On the other hand, nationalism provides anintention of promoting patriotic sentiments to the audience. Innationalism, composers focus on commemorating their national heritagewhile at the same time establish identifiable styles in the region.An example of a nationalism music is &quotSong to the Moon&quot byAntonin Dvorak.

The mentioned examples of both exotic and nationalistic music areconsidered as propaganda since both composers try to create apsychological mechanism of influencing the audience`s attitudestowards a specific cause.


Exoticism focuses on portraying foreign and strange culturalpractices to intended audience, while nationalism emphasizes onpromoting patriotic sentiments that foster national hood.


Locke, R. (2015). Exotic Reflections. Musicology Now.Retrieved 20 March 2017, from