Music has always occupied a firm place in the life of every community. Travel, conquest and trade have led to the mutual enrichment of musical traditions, though on a very limited scale as compared with today. Distance is no longer an object. So the worldwide musical situation has become fluid. Roughly speaking, music has developed tonally in the West and atonally in the East; that is to say in the West an octave has eight tones with corresponding semitones; in the East the same span of sound has no such specific divisions. Yet, in recent times each system has affected the other. East and West have become more familiar with each other's music, and each other's music has become mutually popular. China, Japan and other Far Eastern countries now produce virtuoso in Western modes of performance, particularly the piano and violin. Many Eastern professionals take their place in Western orchestras.
Indigenous music has always been connected with life experience rather than with purely aesthetic appreciation. Communities have music to reflect the moods of birth, marriage, death, war, celebration, commiseration, dance and religious ceremonial. The five basic instruments have developed in parallel; percussion, pipes, trumpets, horns and strings. Most countries are reverting to the sophisticated versions of these instruments. The danger is that thereby the traditional forms of these instruments may be lost. Many arts councils are alive to this problem.