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Music has a long history, and exists in all cultural contexts. Within its history, music has been dominated by both theorists and artists who are from the Western tradition. The conservatory system of Germany in the 1800s grew up alongside traditional psychoanalysis; the conservatory model of music canonization, transmission, and learning has impacted ways in which music has been utilized in therapy. Beginning in the late twentieth century, postcolonialists and feminist scholars of music have suggested new ways in which music can be used and transmitted. These critiques have impacted music both in educational and clinical contexts.
Music (derived from the Greek mousikos, or "of the muses") has been traditionally defined as containing "melody, rhythm and harmony". This historical definition stems from a conservatory tradition that is Western European in origin, and thus has problematic Euro-centric connotations.