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  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.
The drumming style among Protestant bands of Northern Ireland known as blood and thunder evolved as a result of working-class bands both imitating military practices and adapting them to their changing tastes.
This unique tradition developed through working-class musicians’ endeavors to emulate the musical practices of the dominant military power without access to the tuition techniques and facilities on which that style depends. A transformation taking place in blood and thunder drumming is characterized by an added element of aesthetic deliberation, which is considered by many to be an artistic advancement.
This according to “Blood, thunder, and drums: Style and changing aesthetics of drumming in Northern Ireland Protestant bands” by Ray Casserly (Yearbook for traditional music XLV  pp. 142–163). This issue of Yearbook for traditional music, along with many others, is covered in our new RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text collection.
Above and below, the Ballynahinch Protestant Boys, a group featured in the article.
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.
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.
Although he was only eight years younger, Bob Dylan called Mike Seeger (1933–2009) a father figure, and considered him the ultimate embodiment of a folk-star persona. Recalling him in Chronicles. I (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), Dylan wrote:
“Mike was unprecedented. He was like a duke, the knight errant. As for being a folk musician, he was the supreme archetype. He could push a stake through Dracula’s black heart. He was the romantic, egalitarian, and revolutionary type all at once—had chivalry in his blood…”
“He played all the instruments, whatever the song called for—the banjo, the fiddle, mandolin, autoharp, the guitar, even harmonica in the rack….He played on all the various planes, the full index of old-time styles, played in all the genres and had the idioms mastered—Delta blues, ragtime, minstrel songs, buck-and-wing, dance reels, play party, hymns and gospel—being there and seeing him up close, something hit me. It’s not as if he just played everything well, he played these songs as good as it was possible to play them.” (pp. 69–71)
Today would have been Mike Seeger’s 80th birthday! Below, Seeger in 1976.
György Ligeti freely acknowledged the influence of African music on his work—an influence that is seldom readily obvious, though it can be teased out by analysis.
After he listened to recordings of African drumming, Ligeti began exploring the use of various rhythms through multiplication of the basic pulse, a concept that resonated with the additive rhythms of the traditional music that he grew up with in Hungary.
In one of his few passages involving the use of an African-sounding instrument, the third movement of Ligeti’s piano concerto includes an Africanesque pattern played on bongos. He marked the part to be played very quietly, so rather than being foregrounded it serves almost imperceptively to reinforce patterns being played simultaneously on other instruments. Unlike most African drumming, this bongo pattern evolves over time, so that its end is quite different from its beginning.
This according to “Ligeti, Africa, and polyrhythm” by Stephen Andrew Taylor (The world of music XLV/2  pp. 83–94).
Today is Ligeti’s 90th birthday! Below, Mihkel Poll performs the movement in question.
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  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
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.
A multi-instrumentalist and multi-linguist who has lived and performed in Tehran, Paris, Geneva, Brussels, Stockholm, and Frankfurt, Dr. Lloyd Miller has been fusing jazz and world music since the early 1960s.
The California native finds that the modal music of Asia is completely compatible with the African American tradition. “It is all the same musical system,” he says. “The same spirit, the same feeling, the same notes, and some of the same melodic patterns and repetitive and mirroring phrases.”
Long documented only by rare recordings, Miller’s music can now be heard in the compilation A lifetime of Oriental jazz (Jazzman JMANCD 208).
This according to “Jazz in an unfamiliar key: The wanderings of Lloyd Miller” by Francis Gooding (The IAJRC Journal XLIV/2 [June 2011] pp. 9–13]). Below, a compilation of Miller’s broadcasts.