Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music

By Georgina Born; David Hesmondhalgh | Go to book overview

The Discourse of World Music
Simon Frith

When was the last time an ethnomusicologist went out to discover sameness rather than difference? When did we last encourage our students to go and do fieldwork not in order to come back and paint the picture of a different Africa but of an Africa that, after all the necessary adjustments have been made, is the “same” as the West?

KOFI AGAWU

The pioneers of [our] native rock did not step down here from a flying saucer, they emerged from the grain of the people, like the folklorists and the tangoists before them. Our rock is already part of the Argentinean musical tradition, despite those who view it solely as “foreign penetration.” The [acoustic] guitar and the bandoneon were also imported to these pampas and it occurs to nobody to consider them aliens.

MIGUEL GRINBERG

“World music” is an unusual pop genre in that it has a precise moment of origin. 1 In July 1987 eleven independent record companies concerned with “international pop” began meeting at a London pub, the Empress of Russia , to discuss how best to sell “our kind of material.” As a press release issued at the end of the month explained: “The demand for recordings of non-Western artists is surely growing. This is where problems can start for the potential buyer of WORLD MUSIC albums—the High Street record shop hasn't got the particular record, or even an identifiable section to browse through, it doesn't show on any of the published charts, and at this point all but the most tenacious give up—and who can blame them?” The world music tag (and subsequent sales campaign) was designed “to make it easier to find that Malian Kora record, the music of Bulgaria, Zairean soukous or Indian Ghazals—the new WORLD MUSIC section will be the first place to look in the local record shop.” From the start, therefore, world music described the commercial process in which the sounds of other people (“diverse forms of music as yet unclassifiable in Western terms”) were sold to British record buyers, and the record companies involved were well aware of the descriptive problems involved: “Trying to reach a definition of WORLD MUSIC provoked much lengthy discussion and finally it was agreed that it means practically any music that isn't at present catered for by its own category, e.g.:

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Western Music and Its Others: Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - On Difference, Representation, and Appropriation in Music 1
  • Notes 47
  • Musical Belongings - Western Music and Its Low-Other 59
  • Notes 78
  • Race, Orientalism, and Distinction in the Wake of the “yellow Peril” 86
  • Notes 110
  • Bartók, the Gypsies, and Hybridity in Music 119
  • Notes 137
  • Modernism, Deception, and Musical Others: Los Angeles Circa 1940 143
  • Notes 160
  • Experimental Oriental - New Music and Other Others 163
  • Notes 183
  • Composing the Cantorate - Westernizing Europe's Other Within 187
  • Notes 207
  • East, West, and Arabesk 213
  • Notes 229
  • Scoring the Indian - Music in the Liberal Western 234
  • Notes 251
  • The Poetics and Politics of Pygmy Pop 254
  • Discography 275
  • Notes 276
  • International Times - Fusions, Exoticism, and Antiracism in Electronic Dance Music 280
  • Notes 301
  • The Discourse of World Music 305
  • Notes 320
  • Contributors 323
  • Index 327
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