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). Above, the 2012 WOMAD festival; below, the official Sweet lullaby music video.
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.
The music of the South Korean vocalist Na Yun-seon may be understood as challenging which sounds may be classified as jazz, and who may be included in its audiences.
Na may also be seen as negotiating the increasing freedom of jazz that stems from the proliferation of media globalization to imagine new interrelations between the political and economic hierarchies that influence the flow of such media objects. She thereby addresses a tension fundamental to the dynamics of globalization.
This according to “Jazz at large: Scapes and the imagination in the performances of Moses Molelekwa and Nah Youn-Sun” by Jan Harm Schutte (Jazz research journal IV/1 [May 2010] pp. 43–56). Below, Na’s Calypso blues exemplifies some of the challenges that she proposes.
The folk revival movement is the result of the common folkness of the folk and the supposedly non-folk surfacing in cities. In the meantime the folk has been doing what it has always done: appropriating all of the non-folkness it could.
Perhaps non-folkness is that which tries not to be folkness, while folkness is that which has not discovered more non-folkness than it could assimilate. The two categories may not be mutually exclusive; they may be two aspects of the same entity.
This according to “The folkness of the non-folk vs. the non-folkness of the folk” by Charles Seeger, an essay included in Folklore and society: Essays in honor of Benj. A. Botkin (Hatboro: Folklore Associates, 1966, pp. 1–9).
Above, Charles plays the harmonium for a family musicale in 1921, with his son Pete on his lap. Below, Pete’s half-sister Peggy Seeger performs The foolish frog, a traditional song with a story that Charles made up to entertain his children.
The world knows Pete Seeger as an activist and a performer of traditional and original songs; fewer know of his work as a filmmaker. With his wife Toshi, Seeger documented music and dance performances on hundreds of reels of film between 1955 and 1965.
Having started with a self-produced film of how to play the 5-string banjo, Toshi and Pete branched out into filming the musicians and dancers they came in contact with in their countrywide and worldwide tours. Their subjects include the final performance of Big Bill Broonzy as well as the Irish fiddler John Doherty, the sitār player Imrat Khan, Ghanaian fishermen singing rowing songs, and Indonesian court dancers. The Pete and Toshi Seeger Film Collection was acquired by the American Folklife Center in 2004.
This according to “The incompleat filmmakers: The little-known career of Pete and Toshi Seeger” by Todd Harvey and Stephen Winick (Folklife Center news XXVIII/28 [winter/spring 2006] pp. 3–8). Above, the Seegers in an interview at the Library of Congress in 2006; inset, at the 2009 Clearwater Festival.
You can watch the Seegers’ film of Ghanaian fishermen here.
At launch, the Jukebox already included over 10,000 recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925. Content will be increased regularly, with additional Victor recordings and acoustically recorded titles made by other U.S. labels, including Columbia, Okeh, and some Universal Music Group-owned labels. The selections range from jazz and popular styles to ethnic traditions to Western classical works, including opera arias.
Above, a Victor acoustical recording session ca. 1920.
Music philately began with the issuance of some of the very first postage stamps in the mid-nineteenth century: The inaugural issues of several European countries included images of post horns. Purists may argue that post horns were mere signaling devices, but at that time they were already being used in classical compositions, so their depictions may be considered musical images.
Other nineteenth-century stamps featured depictions of prominent political figures who were also musicians—for example, Argentina issued a stamp honoring the statesman and composer Juan Bautista Alberdi in 1888 (left)—but they were concerned with politics rather than music. The first explicitly musical stamp was Poland’s issuance honoring Ignacy Jan Paderewski in 1919.
Through the 1950s countries increasingly celebrated Western classical musicians and composers. In the 1960s all aspects of musical life became potential subjects—institutions, festivals, instruments, dancers, and so on—and non-European countries asserted their national identities with images of their own traditional and historical music cultures. In the later twentieth century images of popular and jazz musicians gained increasing demand .
This according to A checklist of postage stamps about music by Johann A. Norstedt (London: Philatelic Music Circle, 1997), which lists some 14,000 stamps with music-related images.
Above, stamps issued in Northern Cyprus in 1985, which was designated European Music Year by the Europa Federation (click images to enlarge). Below, a curious video about Robert Burns iconography.
From 4 to 8 October 2021, The Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation hosts the virtual conference Responses in Music to Climate Change. The event brings together scholars, performers, composers, and activists, with the goal of exchanging … Continue reading →
Introduction: Dr. Philip Ewell, Associate Professor of Music at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, posted a series of daily tweets during Black History Month (February 2021) providing information on some under-researched Black … Continue reading →
For it [the Walkman] permits the possibility…of imposing your soundscape on the surrounding aural environment and thereby domesticating the external world: for a moment, it can all be brought under the STOP/START, FAST FOWARD, PAUSE and REWIND buttons. –Iain Chambers, “The … Continue reading →
Near the end of his visit to Rome in 1933, the Hindustani vocalist Omkarnath Thakur (1887–1968) received an invitation to dine with Mussolini; Il Duce had caught wind of Thakur’s theories and experiments regarding the inducement of emotional states by … Continue reading →