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World Music

A presentation about select musical practices from around the world.

Paul Mason

on 21 May 2018

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Transcript of World Music

Names conceal as well as reveal.”
Jonathan Haynes (2007)

The Nigerian term ‘Nollywood’ was popularised by the Nigerian people themselves. The title ‘Nollywood’ covers up the diversity of film productions in Nigeria.

Nollywood is not actually one film industry but four. Yoruba language Nollywood movies come mainly from Western Nigeria, but the Yoruba people represent one of the largest ethnic groups in the whole of West Africa. English language Nollywood films have their production center in Lagos and are dominated by people from the south east of Nigeria. The stories in English films largely reflect the ideology of the Igbo people of the region. In the North of the country you have Hausa Nollywood films, which display an Islamic influence. Lastly, the Edo language Nollywood films come from the south of Nigeria around the Niger Delta.

The Nigerian film industry has adopted the word ‘Nollywood’ to refer to a diversity of film production in Nigeria just as ‘Bollywood‘ is the umbrella name, concealing the diversity of film production in India. The term ‘Nollywood’ is easy for journalists to remember and implies a seat in the international arena alongside the glamour of Hollywood and Bollywood.
"Ban a music culture for a decade and a whole generation grows up without an essential cultural reference."
Marie Korpe (2001)
The internationally famous song ‘Sweet Lullaby’ from the World Music album, Deep Forest, used samples of a UNESCO recording of “Are'are” music (Solomons Islands). The original artists were never paid royalties. The scandal caused severe grief for the ethnic community as well as career problems the ethnomusicologist Hugo Zemp, whose recording was unexpectedly sampled by the French techno duo.
In 1986, Paul Simon and Warner Brothers released an album involving South African musicians called Graceland. South Africa was still in the grips of apartheid at the time. The album notes, however, focused on Paul Simon’s personal journey. The collaborating artists were not properly credited for their creative contribution. Excluding the Zulu texts of Joseph Shabalala, the words of all the songs are attributed to Paul Simon. The lack of acknowledgment caused a great deal of controversy at the time. While the South African collaborators had been paid as studio musicians, they were not compensated as artists.
In the words of Jonathan Haynes (2007: 106), “Names conceal as well as reveal.” For example, the title of ‘Bollywood’ covers up the production of Indian films in languages other than Hindi such as Tamil, Bengali, and Punjabi.
Disney's ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ was originally recorded by the South African singer Solomon Linda in 1939. Solomon died in poverty while Disney made 1.6 million dollars from the royalties. Solomon's family filed a lawsuit against Disney for the 1.6million dollars but the outcome is still pending.
The commercialization of Warumungu women‘s traditional music, Australia.

Globalisation changes the context of cultural activity. What is to be transmitted is often reformulated or repackaged for the global marketplace. When culture becomes a commodity for global markets, the production and consumption of culture contributes to anxieties and raises issues surrounding cultural integrity, cultural openness, tradition and indigeneity. These issues have to be carefully negotiated and innovations have to be monitored.
A Balinese tradition?

The Kecak dance was transformed collaboratively by Indonesian dancers and a European researcher to increase its touristic appeal.

Walter Spies (1895-1942), the son of a German diplomat and born in Moscow, is by many considered the "European creator of the Kecak Dance." The Kecak dance derives from the chanted male chorus accompaniment of a sacred Sanghyang exorcism ritual named "Cak". This trance dance tradition vocally replicates the interlocking parts and functions of gamelan instruments primarily using the syllable "Cak".

Walter Spies reworked the "Cak" in the 1930s to increase its dramatic impact and aesthetic appeal, primarily to please his tourist-friends and fulfil their imaginations of what Balinese tradition should look like. Today, the dance is performed for tourist entertainment several times each week. Men sit in circles and perform manic and rhythmically compelling chant-recitations to accompany the Hindu Ramayana story (around one hundred men is not uncommon).
World Music
A French business has recently been criticized for the production and sale of DVDs containing secret techniques of the Indonesian martial art, Pencak Silat. International buyers might have access to cultural resources on film that local Indonesians cannot afford.
When culture becomes a commodity, what are some of the issues that come into play?
At Indonesian national events, Acehnese dance is commonly referred to as Saman. The Indonesian Government, recognising Acehnese dance as a tradition worthy of cultural significance, put forward Saman for listing on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Saman is a title given to all seated dances from Aceh, even though it is actually only the name of one particular dance from a rural village in the highlands of North Sumatra, a place called Gayo. Indonesian authority figures have sought to promote the ideology of ‘unity in diversity’, and they have grouped together the multitude of sitting dances from around Aceh under one title. However, this obfuscation of diversity has incited upset and anger among the Gayo community and failed to recognise the rich variety of seated dances from all around Aceh.
The Minangkabau society of West Sumatra boasts a matrilineal heritage, but has now almost completely adopted the nuclear family structure. Women once held authority over the traditional Minangkabau houses, with their typical double-peaked roofs and thatched walls. These have been abandoned for concrete houses where men play a more important role.

But these same changes have not only brought new privileges to men. They have also allowed women to play an active role in festivities and become performers of tradition.

Before the shift to the nuclear family, young boys were not allowed to live at home. At an early age, they were required to leave home to be raised in a traditional commune called a surau, where they lived until marriage. Here they were taught tradition, religion and other life-skills. Often a maternal uncle took responsibility of training in the basic lessons of the indigenous martial art of silek.
Tabuik is the remembrance of the martyrdom of the grandchild of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussein, who died in the battle of Karbala in 680 CE. Around the world, Hussein’s ordeal is remembered through theatrical re-enactments, processions, public self-flagellation and religious rites. In Indonesia, however, Hussein’s struggle is recalled through diverse performance and ritual traditions, including dance and body percussion.

In Padang Pariaman, the re-enactment of the suffering of Hussein at Karbala has become an annual cultural event. On the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, the anniversary of Hussein’s death is commemorated. The resulting celebration promotes social cohesion and regional identity, as well as tourism and trade.
Gamelan musical notation
European musical notation
Chinese musical notation
Natu: Ocean Prayer
Tania Kassis: Islamo-Christian Ave Maria
Around the world, musical practices are infinitely varied. Music is cherished by many societies as a distinctive and valued part of cultural production. Beyond being interesting for its own sake, music has much to tell us about individual and cultural expression.
Mason, P.H. (2013) Intracultural and Intercultural Dynamics of Capoeira, Global Ethnographic, 1, 1-8.
Mason, P.H. (2012) A Barometer of Modernity: Village performances in the highlands of West Sumatra, ACCESS: Critical Perspectives on Communication, Cultural & Policy Studies, 31(2), 79-90.
Mason, P.H. (2012) L’architecture morphodynamique des coutumes de Sumatra Ouest : Silek, musique traditionnelle, et cartographie du terrain culturel Minangkabau, Cultures-Kairós, 1(1).
Ca trù is a musical genre found in northern Vietnam. It was once played in opium dens, gambling houses and brothels, but today it is performed for tourists in Hanoi as a 'traditional religious music genre'. In September 2009, Ca trù became officially recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage in Urgent Need of Safeguarding.
In April 2012, Youssou N'Dour, the singer disqualified from running for Senegal's presidency, was appointed to Senegal's cabinet as culture and tourism minister by the winner of the election Macky Sall.
King Sunny Adé
Youssou N’dour (Senegal)
Salif Keita (Mali)
Thomas Mapfumo (Zimbabwe)
Ali Farka Touré
Toumani Diabate
Chris Carrabba sponsored by Gudang Garam July 2010
Cultural Appropriation?
What's wrong with
when members of a dominant culture adopt aspects from a culture of people who have been oppressed by that dominant group.
trivialises historical oppression (e.g. Aceh)
exhibits cultural appreciation, but denies reciprocity, and sustains ethnic prejudice
profits the privileged
prioritises the privileged
perpetuates stereotypes
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