The Economic and Technological Aspect

Society's economic structure cannot be ignored if music is to be analyzed. The musical genres of the agricultural sector differ from those of the Bedouin or the industrial sectors. For example, in an agricultural society, music, in the form of agricultural songs, is part of the work itself. This is not applicable to a purely industrial society. Also, as the sea plays a major role in the economy of the Sultanate, there are several musical genres that are related to the different aspects of life at sea, such as reaching the shore, living on board ship, sailors' work, entertainment on board etc.

Trade also plays an important role in enriching the interaction with other cultures. Oman, for example, was a leading country in the frankincense trade in ancient times. It had trade relations with Iraq, Egypt, Greece and the Romans between 700 and 300BC. There had also been marine merchant trading between East Africa and the northern coasts of the Indian Ocean. Also there has been continuous trade between Oman and China since 660AD. Such an interaction contributed to the creation of many musical ideas and genres in Oman.

Economic diversification is a cornerstone of sound economic growth. Relying on one economic branch alone always entails a risk. Therefore, the Omani government paid 'great attention to the necessity of diversifying and developing sources on national income to the greatest possible extent in order not to depend on oil as the sole source of income. The government tries to focus on other sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, industry and tourism. Hence, the strategy of diversifying sources is based on a long-term economic development plan. This resulted in gradually reducing the oil sector contribution to the gross national product to a mere 42% in the five-year development plan (1991-95)' Ref: Wizarat al Ilam (1993, p120).

Compared to many countries in the region, the Sultanate has the potential to adopt several economic trends in view of its geographical location and topography. The diversity of economic trends is also reflected in its genres (funun).

As the funun are considered the mirror of a society, it is seen that, during times of economic boom, tangible artistic advances that reflect the psychological state of the society are made, and vice versa. In ancient civilizations, there are no valuable artistic achievements made during bad times because man is pre-occupied with earning a living. Fighting hunger or poverty does not engender artistic innovation or activity.

Technology also plays a vital role in the country's funun in several ways. For example, the development of instruments has a direct effect on the advancement and promotion of the funun. Also, indirect technological inventions such as recorders have the same effect. The invention of the compact disc represents a revolution in the way that music spreads on the popular level. It also affects some kinds of music which aim primarily to achieve commercial gain without any consideration of artistic value.

The development of television and broadcasting equipment also greatly contributed to the spread of the funun with the effect that regional arts now know no boundaries. It is now easy for every individual to hear and watch the arts of other regions. One can know what is happening not only in one's own country, but also in the whole world. All these developments and advances have advantages and disadvantages as well. Thus, awareness to strengthen original arts is needed so that they may not disappear with the strong waves of technological developments which are aimed purely at commercial gain.

On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that technological progress helped societies at the turn of the 20th century to preserve some musical genres which are now considered to be references to the practical aspect of music. The present modern equipment has also enabled us to record events and play them back. It is also used to preserve the original arts which were previously doomed to oblivion as soon as society had no further use for them.

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