Monday, March 9, 2009

World Music

I thought it fitting that my blog, which is mainly about travel and different things around the world, should include some international music. While there’s so much to choose from, I picked a few styles that stood out for me, to share. They are as follows along with a playlist of songs from artists in each of the genres (If you can't see the playlist, but you can an empty box with some text, just click "pop out player").

This style features the coastal music of Peru combined with Spanish, African and indigenous elements. Black Peruvian music features a blending of instruments, including the Spanish guitar, the cajón (a wooden box drum that is sat upon and played with the hands on the front and sides) and the quijada (the jawbone of a mule or donkey that has been dried so that the loose teeth produce a rattling sound - nice). In some areas, a gourd drum (called the checo or the angara) is also added, and contemporary groups have added the electric bass, Cuban conga drums and African-derived cowbells. Susana Baca provides the sample for this genre.

Arab Classical
Poetry is the very heart of Arab classical music. Heroic odes, oral histories and war and tribal narratives were at the crux of the pre-Islamic culture of the nomadic Arab peoples. Early Islam rejected music as being conducive to immorality. Many ultraconservative Muslims today continue to look down on music, and even ritual cantillation of Koranic verses and the muezzin's call to prayer are not considered "music." Even so, language and poetry are at the very heart of Arab culture; the Koran, too, is full of rich rhythms and rhyme, and its language is dazzling. So it is not surprising, then, that Arab music has flourished over the centuries, with a particularly deep relationship to its lyrical content.* Marcel Khalife demonstrates this style.
*Taken from National

Italian Regional Folk
In Northern Italy the music is often played in major keys, and the melodies are eerily reminiscent of Celtic music. There's a very strong dance tradition here, with bagpipes and fiddle the most important instruments. Bands like the acoustic Piva dal Carner or Fiamma Fumana combine acoustic instruments and traditional tunes and songs with electronics and beats. Those two are not the only bands from the area to push the boundaries. Mau Mau, from Piedmont, mixed its tradition with global beats to good effect in the early 1990s. Within the North, Genoa stands as an anomaly, with its own tavern singing called trallalero, a distant cousin of the polyphony found in Sardinia and Corsica. Although not widely known, and more historical than contemporary, it's proved an influence on some younger bands.* A selection from Fiamma Fumma was chosen to illustrate this genre of music.
*Taken From Natinal

Nordic Folk
Today, the Scandinavian folk scene is a diverse one, with experimentation in acoustic and electric styles. Nordic folk music faded in the 20’s but has since been undergoing a revival that gets larger as time goes on. This revival focuses on “back-to-the-land” principles and a return to simple rural life. Many artists have combined this message with modern beats and harmonies to make an impact on today’s generations, but it is a slow process. Instruments such as the nyckelharpa keyed fiddle and the Swedish bagpipe are still used as a testament to the old tradition as well. Laiska by Varttina showcases this style.

I’m sure that many people (at least from my generation) are familiar with the ska popularized by bands like No Doubt and Sublime in the late 90’s. However, they were just a few in the long line of musicians that have been performing ska since the 1960’s. Born on the island of Jamaica, ska was created somewhat accidentally out of a mixture of many different types of music. "Like the island's slogan—"Out of many, one people"—ska was born through the blending of many musical styles" (NGEO). In this new style the guitar and piano were combined in a "highly syncopated and clipped style, while the horn sections played melody lines borrowed from jazz, Latin music, mento and R&B"(NGEO). The selection for this genre is from Ernest Ranglin, one of the founding fathers of ska.

I first heard about this style of music while watching Jack’s Big Music show on Nick jr. with my niece and nephews. That show, by the way, is a testament to the good shows that do still exist for children today. I wish such shows existed for adults that not only provided good music but profiled different artists from around the world and provided background about their particular styles of music.
Zydeco adds an Caribbean rhythm to Cajun and African American rhythms by simplifying the melody and incessantly repeating it, not unlike blues in some respects. Over the years the style has generally come to be known as party music.
Zydeco groups feature the rub-board or frottoir, a type of raspy percussive instrument. The emphasis is on conveying emotion rather than on a story line, so instrumentals are most common. In the following playlist, this type of music is performed by Beau Jocque & the Zydeco High Rollers.

I’ve also included some extras that were pretty interesting to listen to. They are: Aventura with their song La Madre in the Bacchata style, Baba Zula with their Turkish Pop song Sevsem Olduruler, Sevmezsem Oldum, and from the World Fusion genre (cross-cultural musical collaborations that fuse Western pop with indigenous pop and folk traditions from around the world) i’ve included Snow by Dear Euphoria and A Tango for Guevera and Evita by Miyazawa.

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