Entertainment & Pop Culture

Entertainment and leisure activities have been a part of all cultures in one form or another since the ancient times, whether the activity in question involved participating in a dance performance, attending a Broadway show, going to a music festival, or watching a movie.

Browse Subcategories:
Featured Entertainment & Pop Culture Articles
  • Berle, Milton
    Television in the United States
    Television in the United States, the body of television programming created and broadcast in the United States. American TV programs, like American popular culture in general in the 20th and early 21st centuries, have spread far beyond the boundaries of the United States and have had a pervasive…
  • Fresco of the Preaching Buddha at the Wet-kyi-in, Gu-byauk-gyi, Pagan, c. 1113.
    Southeast Asian arts
    Southeast Asian arts, the literary, performing, and visual arts of Southeast Asia. Although the cultural development of the area was once dominated by Indian influence, a number of cohesive traits predate the Indian influence. Wet-rice (or padi) agriculture, metallurgy, navigation, ancestor cults,…
  • Dankworth, Sir John; saxophone
    Wind instrument
    Wind instrument, any musical instrument that uses air as the primary vibrating medium for the production of sound. Wind instruments exhibit great diversity in structure and sonority and have been prominent in the music of all cultures since prehistoric times. A system of classification of these…
  • Mongol shaman wearing a ritual gown and holding a drum with the image of a spirit helper, c. 1909.
    Central Asian arts
    Central Asian arts, the literary, performing, and visual arts of a large portion of Asia embracing the Turkic republics (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan), Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and parts of Russia and China. As used here, the…
  • Globe Theatre, London
    Theatrical production
    Theatrical production, the planning, rehearsal, and presentation of a work. Such a work is presented to an audience at a particular time and place by live performers, who use either themselves or inanimate figures, such as puppets, as the medium of presentation. A theatrical production can be…
  • Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
    Symphony
    Symphony, a lengthy form of musical composition for orchestra, normally consisting of several large sections, or movements, at least one of which usually employs sonata form (also called first-movement form). Symphonies in this sense began to be composed during the so-called Classical period in…
  • Musical performance
    Musical performance, step in the musical process during which musical ideas are realized and transmitted to a listener. In Western music, performance is most commonly viewed as an interpretive art, though it is not always merely that. Performers to some degree determine aspects of any music they…
  • woodcut: samisen player
    Japanese music
    Japanese music, the art concerned with combining vocal or instrumental sounds for beauty of form or emotional expression, specifically as it is carried out in Japan. Korea served as a bridge to Japan for many Chinese musical ideas as well as exerting influence through its own forms of court music.…
  • A disc jockey delivering the Sirius Satellite Radio service's first live broadcast, from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, Ohio, July 2005.
    Radio
    Radio, sound communication by radio waves, usually through the transmission of music, news, and other types of programs from single broadcast stations to multitudes of individual listeners equipped with radio receivers. From its birth early in the 20th century, broadcast radio astonished and…
  • Soyinka, Wole
    African theatre
    African theatre, effectively, the theatre of Africa south of the Sahara that emerged in the postcolonial era—that is to say, from the mid-20th century onward. It is not possible to talk of much African theatre as if it fell into discrete historical or national patterns. Colonial boundaries ignored…
  • Anubis weighing the soul of the scribe Ani, from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, c. 1275 bce.
    Western theatre
    Western theatre, history of the Western theatre from its origins in pre-Classical antiquity to the present. For a discussion of drama as a literary form, see dramatic literature and the articles on individual national literatures. For detailed information on the arts of theatrical performance and…
  • Kinetoscope, invented by Thomas A. Edison and William Dickson in 1891
    Motion picture
    Motion picture, series of still photographs on film, projected in rapid succession onto a screen by means of light. Because of the optical phenomenon known as persistence of vision, this gives the illusion of actual, smooth, and continuous movement. The motion picture is a remarkably effective…
  • Theatre music
    Theatre music, any music designed to form part of a dramatic performance, as, for example, a ballet, stage play, motion picture, or television program. Included are the European operetta and its American form, the musical. Music as an art of the theatre has its roots in primitive ritual and…
  • Popular art
    Popular art, any dance, literature, music, theatre, or other art form intended to be received and appreciated by ordinary people in a literate, technologically advanced society dominated by urban culture. Popular art in the 20th century is usually dependent on such technologies of reproduction or d…
  • Peasant Dance, oil on wood by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1568; in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
    Dance
    Dance, the movement of the body in a rhythmic way, usually to music and within a given space, for the purpose of expressing an idea or emotion, releasing energy, or simply taking delight in the movement itself. Dance is a powerful impulse, but the art of dance is that impulse channeled by skillful…
  • Il trovatore
    Opera
    Opera, a staged drama set to music in its entirety, made up of vocal pieces with instrumental accompaniment and usually with orchestral overtures and interludes. In some operas the music is continuous throughout an act; in others it is broken up into discrete pieces, or “numbers,” separated either…
  • Guignol
    Puppetry
    Puppetry, the making and manipulation of puppets for use in some kind of theatrical show. A puppet is a figure—human, animal, or abstract in form—that is moved by human, and not mechanical, aid. These definitions are wide enough to include an enormous variety of shows and an enormous variety of…
  • Comedy
    Comedy, type of drama or other art form the chief object of which, according to modern notions, is to amuse. It is contrasted on the one hand with tragedy and on the other with farce, burlesque, and other forms of humorous amusement. The classic conception of comedy, which began with Aristotle in…
  • Moog electronic sound synthesizer
    Keyboard instrument
    Keyboard instrument, any musical instrument on which different notes can be sounded by pressing a series of keys, push buttons, or parallel levers. In nearly all cases in Western music the keys correspond to consecutive notes in the chromatic scale, and they run from the bass at the left to the…
  • Native American powwow drum and beaters.
    Native American music
    Native American music, music of the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. The Americas contain hundreds of native communities, each with its own distinctive history, language, and musical culture. These communities—although united in placing music at the centre of public life—have developed…
  • koto
    Stringed instrument
    Stringed instrument, any musical instrument that produces sound by the vibration of stretched strings, which may be made of vegetable fibre, metal, animal gut, silk, or artificial materials such as plastic or nylon. In nearly all stringed instruments the sound of the vibrating string is amplified…
  • Chamber music
    Chamber music, music composed for small ensembles of instrumentalists. In its original sense chamber music referred to music composed for the home, as opposed to that written for the theatre or church. Since the “home”—whether it be drawing room, reception hall, or palace chamber—may be assumed to…
  • Some of the percussion instruments of the Western orchestra (clockwise, from top): xylophone, gong, bass drum, snare drum, and timpani.
    Percussion instrument
    Percussion instrument, any musical instrument belonging to either of two groups, idiophones or membranophones. Idiophones are instruments whose own substance vibrates to produce sound (as opposed to the strings of a guitar or the air column of a flute); examples include bells, clappers, and…
  • circus: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey
    Circus
    Circus, an entertainment or spectacle usually consisting of trained animal acts and exhibitions of human skill and daring. The word has the same root as circle and circumference, recalling the distinctive environment in which such entertainment is presented—the ring, a circular performance area…
  • Ballet
    Ballet, theatrical dance in which a formal academic dance technique—the danse d’école—is combined with other artistic elements such as music, costume, and stage scenery. The academic technique itself is also known as ballet. This article surveys the history of ballet. Ballet traces its origins to…
  • Chinese music: 12 pitches of the lü
    Chinese music
    Chinese music, the art form of organized vocal and instrumental sounds that developed in China. It is one of the oldest and most highly developed of all known musical systems. Chinese music history must be approached with a certain sense of awe. Indeed, any survey evokes the music of a varied,…
  • One photograph of a series taken by Eadweard Muybridge of a running horse.
    History of the motion picture
    History of the motion picture, history of cinema from the 19th century to the present. The illusion of motion pictures is based on the optical phenomena known as persistence of vision and the phi phenomenon. The first of these causes the brain to retain images cast upon the retina of the eye for a…
  • Caricature of Antonio Vivaldi, pen and ink on paper by Pier Leone Ghezzi, 1723; in the Codex Ottoboni, Vatican Library, Rome. The inscription below the drawing reads, “Il Prete rosso Compositore di Musica che fece L'opera a Capranica del 1723” (“The red priest, composer of music who made the opera at Capranica [College in Rome] of 1723”).
    Concerto
    Concerto, since about 1750, a musical composition for instruments in which a solo instrument is set off against an orchestral ensemble. The soloist and ensemble are related to each other by alternation, competition, and combination. In this sense the concerto, like the symphony or the string…
  • Setting for a scene in Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder (Mother Courage and Her Children), staged by Bertolt Brecht for a production in 1949 by the Berliner Ensemble.
    Dramatic literature
    Dramatic literature, the texts of plays that can be read, as distinct from being seen and heard in performance. The term dramatic literature implies a contradiction in that literature originally meant something written and drama meant something performed. Most of the problems, and much of the…
  • Farnese, Teatro
    Theatre
    Theatre, in architecture, a building or space in which a performance may be given before an audience. The word is from the Greek theatron, “a place of seeing.” A theatre usually has a stage area where the performance itself takes place. Since ancient times the evolving design of theatres has been…
  • Aeschylus, marble bust.
    Tragedy
    Tragedy, branch of drama that treats in a serious and dignified style the sorrowful or terrible events encountered or caused by a heroic individual. By extension the term may be applied to other literary works, such as the novel. Although the word tragedy is often used loosely to describe any sort…
  • The Rolling Stones in the mid-1960s.
    Rock
    Rock, form of popular music that emerged in the 1950s. It is certainly arguable that by the end of the 20th century rock was the world’s dominant form of popular music. Originating in the United States in the 1950s, it spread to other English-speaking countries and across Europe in the ’60s, and by…
  • Egyptian dancing, detail from a tomb painting from Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qurnah, Egypt, c. 1400 bce; in the British Museum, London.
    Western dance
    Western dance, history of Western dance from ancient times to the present and including the development of ballet, the waltz, and various types of modern dance. The peoples of the West—of Europe and of the countries founded through permanent European settlement elsewhere—have a history of dance…
  • Acting
    Acting, the performing art in which movement, gesture, and intonation are used to realize a fictional character for the stage, for motion pictures, or for television. Acting is generally agreed to be a matter less of mimicry, exhibitionism, or imitation than of the ability to react to imaginary…
  • Aztec round dance
    Latin American dance
    Latin American dance, dance traditions of Mexico, Central America, and the portions of South America and the Caribbean colonized by the Spanish and the Portuguese. These traditions reflect the distinctive mixtures of indigenous (Amerindian), African, and European influences that have shifted…
  • Harmony
    Harmony, in music, the sound of two or more notes heard simultaneously. In practice, this broad definition can also include some instances of notes sounded one after the other. If the consecutively sounded notes call to mind the notes of a familiar chord (a group of notes sounded together), the ear…
  • Musical composition
    Musical composition, the act of conceiving a piece of music, the art of creating music, or the finished product. These meanings are interdependent and presume a tradition in which musical works exist as repeatable entities. In this sense, composition is necessarily distinct from improvisation.…
  • music; piano
    Music
    Music, art concerned with combining vocal or instrumental sounds for beauty of form or emotional expression, usually according to cultural standards of rhythm, melody, and, in most Western music, harmony. Both the simple folk song and the complex electronic composition belong to the same activity,…
  • shofar
    Western music
    Western music, music produced in Europe as well as those musics derived from the European from ancient times to the present day. All ancient civilizations entered historical times with a flourishing musical culture. That the earliest writers explained it in terms of legend and myth strongly…
  • mangolongondo
    African music
    African music, the musical sounds and practices of all indigenous peoples of Africa, including the Berber in the Sahara and the San (Bushmen) and Khoikhoin (Hottentot) in Southern Africa. The music of European settler communities and that of Arab North Africa are not included in the present…
  • Choral music
    Choral music, music sung by a choir with two or more voices assigned to each part. Choral music is necessarily polyphonal—i.e., consisting of two or more autonomous vocal lines. It has a long history in European church music. Choral music ranks as one of several musical genres subject to…
  • Armstrong, Louis
    Jazz
    Jazz, musical form, often improvisational, developed by African Americans and influenced by both European harmonic structure and African rhythms. It was developed partially from ragtime and blues and is often characterized by syncopated rhythms, polyphonic ensemble playing, varying degrees of…
  • Mridanga; in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
    South Asian arts
    South Asian arts, the literary, performing, and visual arts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Despite a history of ethnic, linguistic, and political fragmentation, the people of the Indian subcontinent are unified by a common cultural and ethical outlook; a wealth of ancient textual…
  • Sarah Bernhardt in the title role of Hamlet, lithograph poster by Alphonse Mucha for a French production of the play.
    Theatre
    Theatre, in dramatic arts, an art concerned almost exclusively with live performances in which the action is precisely planned to create a coherent and significant sense of drama. Though the word theatre is derived from the Greek theaomai, “to see,” the performance itself may appeal either to the…
  • Your preference has been recorded
    Check out Britannica's new site for parents!
    Subscribe Today!