Tag Archives: World music

Stockhausen’s universalism

 

Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Telemusik represents an effort to create universally valid music.

In an analogy to Le Corbusier’s modulor concept, Telemusik is based on a proportional framework constructed on the Fibonacci series, through which so-called Klangobjekte—both found sounds and electronically modulated ones of the most diverse ethnic provenance—acquire musical form.

Still, the limits of the universalism sought by Stockhausen are seen in conspicuous traces of Western compositional practice.

This according to “Universalismus und Exotik in Karlheinz Stockhausens Telemusik” by Peter W. Schatt (Musica: Zweimonatsschrift XLIII/4 [Juli-August 1989] pp. 315–20).

Today would have been Stockhausen’s 90th birthday! Above, the composer around the time of Telemusik; below, the work in question.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, World music

A Folkways Anniversary

 

Folkways Records, now Smithsonian Folkways, turns 70 this month! The son of Moses Asch, the company’s founder, tells the story:

“When my father founded Folkways Records in 1948, it was his third record company. The first was Asch Records founded in the 1930s, on which he released the first recordings of Lead Belly.”

“The second was Disc Records, founded during World War II….While initially a success, Disc went bankrupt in 1947 when, as my father told me, he lost the anticipated Christmas sales due to a snowstorm in mid-December that delayed the release of a Nat King Cole Christmas album until after December 25th.”

“Moe started Folkways with a loan of $10,000 from his father and the goodwill of his assistant, Marian Distler, who agreed to be the ‘front’ person so that he could get going while still under bankruptcy.”

“In calling the company Folkways, a term that connotes recognition of and respect for the diversity of traditions that exist in the world, my father located himself as standing against those who sought to limit what was available in the market place to cultural expressions that conformed to the tastes and values of white, middle-class America as defined by Red Scare ideologues.”

“Put more broadly, Folkways represented a place where voices, otherwise silenced not only by political considerations but also by an economic system intent on maximizing profits to the exclusion of all else, could be heard. Hence, his proviso that he generally did not take on projects he thought had great commercial potential but gave serious consideration to worthy projects that, nevertheless, promised little commercial success.”

Quoted from “Folkways Records and the ethics of collecting: Some personal reflections” by Michel Asch (MUSICultures XXXIV–XXXV [2007–2008] pp. 111–27).

Above, Moses Asch (center) flanked by Mike Seeger and Elizabeth Cotten in 1983; below, a brief documentary.

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Filed under World music

33 1/3 global

 

In August 2017 Bloomsbury launched 33 1/3 global, a series of short music-based books related to but independent from their series 33 1/3. The new series brings the focus to music throughout the world, starting with Supercell’s “Supercell” featuring Hatsune Miku by Keisuke Yamada, in the subseries 33 1/3 Japan.

The lead singer on Supercell’s eponymous first album is Hatsune Miku (初音ミク), a Vocaloid character created by Crypton Future Media with voice synthesizers. A virtual superstar, over 100,000 songs, uploaded mostly by fans, are attributed to her. By the time Supercell was released in March 2009, the group’s Vocaloid works were already well-known to fans.

This book explores the Vocaloid and DTM (desktop music) phenomena through the lenses of media and fan studies, looking closely at online social media platforms, the new technology for composing, avid fans of the Vocaloid character, and these fans’ performative practices. It provides a sense of how interactive new media and an empowered fan base combine to engage in the creation processes and enhance the circulation of DTM works.

Below, Hatsune Miku in action.

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Filed under New series, Popular music, Reception, World music

The global jukebox

The global jukebox is the culmination of a lifetime of groundbreaking work by Alan Lomax, whose efforts to record and compile song and dance from around the world led to this collaborative project—an interactive portal for the world’s music, dance, and speaking traditions from almost every corner of the earth, recorded by hundreds of pioneering ethnographers.

This open-access resource is divided into three broad areas of inquiry: cantometrics, an analysis of the elements of song within and across cultures, and choreometrics and parlametrics, which similarly evaluate dancing and speaking.

Users can search by genre or culture and experience thousands of songs and videos that come from a myriad of traditions; seek their ancestry through song and dance; uncover the roots and connections of their favorite musical genres; take a guided tour through the vibrant musical culture of a single region or style; look at clusters of any tradition’s song styles; or search for their own answers with the site’s analytical tools.

Below, Lomax discusses the background of the project.

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Filed under Ethnomusicology, Resources, World music

When women play

kulintang

In many societies musical roles are divided along gender lines: Women sing and men play. Men also sing and women sometimes play; yet, unlike men, women who play often do so in contexts of sexual and social marginality.

Contemporary anthropological theories regarding the interrelationship between social structure and gender stratification illuminate how women’s use of musical instruments is related to broader issues of social and gender structure; changes in the ideology of these structures often reflect changes that affect women as performers.

This according to “When women play: The relationship between musical instruments and gender style” by Ellen Koskoff (Canadian university music review/Revue de musique des universités canadiennes XVI/1 [1995] pp. 114–27; reprinted in A feminist ethnomusicology: Writings on music and gender [Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2014]).

Above and below, kulintang, a women’s instrumental genre discussed in the article.

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Filed under Asia, Curiosities, Instruments

Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project

silkroad-yoyoma

In an interview, Yo-Yo Ma discussed the genesis of the Silk Road Project.

“I’ve been traveling around the world for 25 years, performing, talking to people, studying their cultures and musical instruments, and I always come away with more questions in my head than can be answered.”

“One of these is the idea of culture as a transnational influence, and the Silk Road, though basically a trade route, also connected the cultures of the peole who used it.”

“The project started with several symposia of scholars, and it was eventually decided to form a nonprofit, knowledge-based organization that would combine new and traditional information about places where people have been making exciting, wonderful music….Our idea is to bring together musicians who represent all these traditions, in workshops, festivals, and conferences, to see how we can connect with each other in music.”

Excerpted from “Continuity in diversity” by Edith Eisler (Strings XV/8:94 [May–June 2001] pp. 46–54).

Today is Yo-Yo Ma’s 60th birthday! Above and below, performing with the Silk Road Ensemble, an offshoot of the Project.

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Filed under Performers, World music

Folkways in Wonderland

Frishkopf fig. 1

Folkways in Wonderland (FiW) is a cyberworld for musical discovery with social interaction, allowing avatar-represented users to explore selections from the Smithsonian Folkways world music collection while communicating through text and audio channels. FiW is built on Open Wonderland, a framework for creating collaborative 3D virtual worlds.

FiW is populated with track samples from Folkways Recordings. Since acquiring the label in 1987, Smithsonian Folkways has expanded and digitized the Folkways collection while enhancing and organizing its metadata, all of which are now available electronically.

FiW is collaborative: multiple avatars can enter the space, audition track samples, contribute their own sounds (speech or other) to the soundscape, and also communicate through text chat. Nearby users can hear music together, as well as hear and see each other. Wonderland also provides in-world collaborative applications, such as a shared web browser or whiteboard. Thus users are provided with a real-time, immersive, audiovisual representation of the virtual sociomusical environment, together with multiple means of communicating within it.

This according to “Folkways in Wonderland” by Rasika Ranaweera, Michael Frishkopf, and Michael Cohen (Sound matters 3 March 2015).

Above, a screenshot of a typical session (click to enlarge); below, a brief demonstration.

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Filed under Resources, World music

Journal of world popular music

Journal of world popular music

Launched by Equinox in 2014, Journal of world popular music is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes research and scholarship on recent issues and debates surrounding international popular musics, also known as world music, global pop, world beat, or, more recently, world music 2.0.

The journal provides a forum for exploring the manifestations and impacts of post-globalizing trends, processes, and dynamics surrounding these musics today. It adopts an open-minded perspective, including in its scope any local popularized musics of the world, commercially available music of non-Western origin, musics of ethnic minorities, and contemporary fusions or collaborations with local traditional or roots musics with Western pop and rock musics.

Placing specific emphasis on contemporary, interdisciplinary, and international perspectives, the journal’s special features include empirical research and scholarship on the global creative and music industries, the participants of world music, the musics themselves, and their representations in all media forms today, among other relevant themes and issues, alongside explorations of recent ideas and perspectives from popular music, ethnomusicology, anthropology, musicology, communication, media and cultural studies, sociology, geography, art and museum studies, and other fields with a scholarly focus on world music.

Along with regular articles that focus on the study of world music in all its forms from a variety of academic and other perspectives, the journal also features alternative means of representing research and scholarship through creative and visual means such as photography, poetry, and artwork, and audio and video means through an accompanying website. It also includes reviews of relevant books, special issues, magazines, CDs, websites, DVDs, online music releases, exhibitions, artwork, radio programs, and world music festivals.

Below, a performance by Yothu Yindi, the subject of one of the articles in the inaugural issue.

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Filed under New periodicals, Popular music

A lullaby for world music

womad2012

The term world music arose among academics in the 1960s as a way to promote interest in the study of diverse musics. By the 1980s, world music was a marketing category whose success was propelled by the interest and involvement of popular music stars; by the 1990s, it had become a booming commercial enterprise on its own. Critical and scholarly responses to this development involve two types of narrative: the anxious and the celebratory.

Creative responses have included examples like the inclusion of Hugo Zemp’s field recording of the song Rorogwela, available on the CD Solomon Islands: Fateleka and Baegu Music from Malaita (UNESCO/Audivis, 1990), as Sweet lullaby on the worldbeat CD Deep forest (Sony Music, 1992), where it was given drum machine and synthesizer accompaniment and backing vocals.

The marketing of tropes like green enviroprimitivism and spiritual new age avant-garde romanticism has created a situation where a “sweet lullaby” is a fitting metaphor for the soothing multicultural aura surrounding the industrialized globalization of music.

This according to “A sweet lullaby for world music” by Steven Feld (Public culture XII/1 [2000] pp. 145–171). Below, the official Sweet lullaby music video. Above, the 30th annual World of Music, Arts, and Dance Festival (WOMAD), which drew thousands of world music fans to Charlton Park in 2012.

Related article: Telek, Bridie, and schismogenesis

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Filed under Ethnomusicology, Popular music, World music

Folk lexicon

weavers

Folk lexicon: Lexicon of the modern folk fan was published by Caffè Lena in 2013.

This free online resource provides information on the folk music scene as it has evolved (mainly in North America) since the 1950s. Categories include awards, folk festivals, instruments, musical styles, publications, radio shows, and record companies, along with discussions of terminology and corny nicknames.

Above, the Weavers were influential founders of the contemporary scene. Below, the group’s 1980 reunion at Carnegie Hall.

Related articles:

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Filed under Resources, World music