The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.
While searching for “world music” within Twitter one is most likely to find results about Justin Bieber’s “Around The World” track instead. A simple Google search for the same keywords brings up a variety of institutes, theaters, and World Music networks.
Pre-Internet, “World Music” fans mostly consisted of academic Westerners interested in the globe’s otherness. The music itself was essentially non-English and played with more natural, local instruments from Africa, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, India, and the Middle East. Celtic and Russian choir music could also be classified as World Music.
World Music still sounds native, unfamiliar, and far less digitized than mainstream music: Pop, Rock, and Rap. It has its own category in the iTunes Music Store and hours of streaming on Pandora.
But today, world music either gets mixed into mainstream culture and reclassified or goes buried in the troves of mainstream music which dominate social media chatter.
Those non-Western countries that are highly connected have a greater chance to crossover.
South Korean Pop artist Psy for instance is a World Music artist whose viral video “Gagnam Style” earned him mainstream, Western Pop success. YouTube backed Psy, the same way mass radio Westernized Ricky Martin and Shakira.
Conversely, the digital divide prevents World music artists from successfully marketing themselves. Not everyone has Pro Tools, an iPhone and high speed connectivity. This is where World music becomes more of a world aid program than about the quality of the music itself.
Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, and the Buena Vista Club all demonstrated how commercialization strengthened their local culture. The problem today is that the Internet just wants to Westernize everything.
For World Music, the digital era simply means it either gets absorbed and recasted or converted into an outreach program, known as World music.
(I originally wrote this piece for Flaunt Magazine but they never got back to me.)
Computers were never designed in the first place to become musical instruments. Within a computer, everything is sterile — there’s no sound, there’s no air. It’s totally code. Like with computer-generated effects in movies, you can create wonders. But it’s really hard to create emotion.
Bing Crosby discovered the microphone. He was also the first American to record on tape, which basically pioneered the hard drive.
Fast-forward into the mid-nineteen-forties. The Second World War had just ended. Americans were picking over the technological remains of German industry. One of the things they discovered was magnetic tape; the Nazis had been using tape recording to broadcast propaganda across time zones. It was a remarkable invention. Previous sound-recording technologies had used wax cylinders or discs, or delicate wires. But magnetic tape was remarkably fungible: it could be recorded over, cut and spliced together. Plus it sounded better.
There is a direct link in the Silicon Valley understanding between Bing Crosby’s crooning and the rise of the hard drive, which was designed as an improvement over magnetic tape. Or, to put it into an equation: microphones + crooning + Nazis + radio + fifty thousand dollars = Silicon Valley.
So many labels are going out of business. We bring it back to where it counts: releasing exciting music.
In 1959, Blackwell started Island Records, which brought reggae and Bob Marley to a worldwide audience.
He sold Island Records to Polygram for nearly $300 million.
For many, the word “Brooklyn” now evokes artisanal cheese rather than rap artists. The disconnect between brownstone Brooklyn’s past and present is jarring in the places where rappers grew up and boasted about surviving shootouts, but where cupcakes now reign. If you look hard enough, the rougher past might still be visible under the more recently applied gloss. And if you want to buy a piece of the action, Biggie’s childhood apartment, a three-bedroom walk-up, was recently listed by a division of Sotheby’s International Realty. Asking price: $725,000.
Go Brooklyn? Too soft.
Over-commercialization. She faked the National Anthem at Obama’s inauguration. The Super Bowl performance might as well been a Beyonce hologram.
Beyonce uses music as cheap scheme to sell more advertising, completely over-saturating the mainstream.
NPR asks a great question: ”The Beyonce Experiment: How Far Can She Go?”
John Cage on silence:
There was a german philosopher who is very well known, his name was Emmanuel Kant, and he said there are two things that don’t have to mean anything, one is music and the other is laughter. Don’t have to mean anything that is, in order to give us deep pleasure. The sound experience which i prefer to all others, is the experience of silence. And this silence, almost anywhere in the world today, is traffic. If you listen to Beethoven, it’s always the same, but if you listen to traffic, it’s always different.”