The use of elements of music from other cultures has a long and colorful history in the Western tradition. A central question in understanding this kind of music involves how and why Western composers choose to evoke “the Other” through composition. This paper surveys the many ways composers evoke the other through the standard repertoire. An exploration of composers’ intentions and stylistic resources reveals the cultural importance of exotic music in different time periods and demonstrates how the function of music varies due to political and social pressures. This paper traces connections between formal devices in music and the composer’s intent when writing, which in turn suggests how the musical evocation of the other serves varying cultural needs based on the thought paradigms of artists in particular historical eras.