Music is critical in defining who we are, and how we determine identity. It is often times a facility in which to communicate emotions, beliefs, and abstractions that may not have been available otherwise. While our culture uses music mainly as an artistic facility, other cultures identify it as a living force. Friedson stated that, “many African peoples [specifically the Zar cults of Ethiopia and South Sudan]“… experience sickness and healing through rituals of consciousness-transformation whose experiential core is music”. This force has said to be used in diagnosing and healing illnesses through ceremonies within the Zar culture. Music is valued and represented through out cultures around the world. In her essay “Gender and Navaho Music: unanswered Question” Charlotte J, Frisbie writes that “In the Navajo world not knowing songs or having the ability to create them is equated with poverty”. Music is so pivotal within the Navaho that the absence of it is related to a cultural dearth.
Clifford Geertz describes culture as “webs of significance [man] himself have spun.” He depicts the analysis of that web to be “not an experimental science in search of law, but an interpretive one in search of meaning.” He is illustrating that what defines a culture is where we place both meaning and significance. Geertz argues that we communicate through symbols: that meaning and symbolism is directly affiliated in defining culture. I would argue this same meaning is also placed within music. We make music meaningful because it is a key component within society. In the above examples, music for the Zar is a symbol of healing; whereas for the Navajo it symbolizes cultural participation and wealth, making music central to Navajo life. As well, the ghinnawas poems that the Awlad ‘Ali women sing, are a symbolic communication of sentiment, which is a means to subvert male dominance and form their community. Likewise music at large is used to communicate symbolic messages through lyrics, rhythm, and melody to its recipients.
Levi-Strauss relates myth to the processing of philosophical and social dilemma within society. One could argue that music also allows us to process and relate abstract concepts and thoughts within our society. Music is found universally throughout cultures, and within each, is defined differently in its impact and application. Levi-Strauss argues that because of universal cognition people feel the need to find order and classification in the world. He argues that this is what helps create culture. Music is one outlet cultures use to find this order, and can be understood through various binary oppositions. Just as for the Awlad ‘Ali, music often expresses sentiment, so it can express the binary of public/private. For the Zar music might relate to the binary between ill/well, and for the Navajo, that of individual/community. The structure of music is universal but the specific content and how it is utilized depends upon each culture.
 Friedson, Steven M. 1996. Dancing Prophets: Musical Experience in Tumbuka Healing.Chicago: University of Chicago Press
 http://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/resources/music/chapter8/129383.shtml, accessed 8 October 2014.
 Lecture, Professor Carole Mcgranahan, ANTH 2100 Frontiers of Cultural Anthropology: Symbolic and Interpretive Theory, 31 August 2015
 Abu-Lughod, Lila. 1986. Veiled Sentiments. London.
 Lecture, Professor Carole Mcgranahan, ANTH 2100 Frontiers of Cultural Anthropology: Structuralism, 16 September, 2015