Bollywood

When I was reading the Reck article, I was most interested in the section about Pop. The “cine songs” are our equivalent of movie soundtracks. I immediately thought of movies like the Justin Bieber “documentary” because of the United States’ obsession with pop stars and their music. But, in the US there is less of a focus on music from movies than there seems to be in India. Perhaps this is because of our focus on the stars rather than the soundtracks, but I thought it was interesting that the “cine songs” were what was prevalent in pop music rather than music by popular artists. The lack of a structure like Hollywood with all of its paparazzi and stars’ flair may contribute to this despite their attempts at mimicking Hollywood with Bollywood.

I liked that the music was a blend of East and West, with Latin rhythms alongside traditional folk instruments. The “‘anything’ today might include harmony and counterpoint, rap,rock, symphony music and jazz as well as Indian styles and sounds” is a quote that immediately reminded me of ethnoscapes. The blending of cultures leads to this embracing of all different types of music- but I was interested that there was such an easy acceptance of  music from around the world rather than an abhorrence as we saw in Egyptian religious music. Despite also having religious and classical music, pop is interwoven into society and completely accepted. Maybe this comes from the long history of conquering and intermixing of cultures, but you’d think that such a past may engender a wish to stick to some sort of roots.

What is/n’t Music?

The Nasr article explores what is and isn’t musica. The Islamic music praises Allah and all music that does not is not musica- it can be music for the military or for work but either way there is a distinction. We have not explored the question of what is music yet… the idea that there is non music is actually fascinating considering our discussions in class. The first day we said what kind of music we either hated or was the most discordant moment of music for us. So is dub still music because it remixes music? Are remixes of popular music still considered music? To some people yes, to other more hard-core purists no. So who gets to define what music is?

In the Nasr article there is a definitive line between music and not music. For religion and not for religion. In the West/United States, that line gets completely blurred. Do we need to have a system that defines our western music or is it okay to consider the music that a homeless man plays on a line of dirty buckets as music? Should we have standards or rules that define music? I think that sounds that affect a listener can be considered music and that putting definitive terms eliminates the possibility for creativity and spontaneous production. Think of a world without remixes! How uncool!

Eat Pray Bali

In reading Eat Pray Love, I thought Bali was a place rich with a religious, musical and traditional culture. What I didn’t know before reading the Harnish article was that these words are synonymous in the Balinese language and cannot be parsed apart. this is highly fascinating to me because of the way it conveys an idea about music- that music is of tradition, art and religion all at one time. Eat Pray Love addresses the religiosity of the culture but does not show the deep seated notion of all of these terms coming together to make up a whole.

The idea that cultural tourism was used to attract Western outsiders to come visit Bali is also interesting. The Balinese government used pictures of naked breasted women to show the “seduction and viability” of the Balinese. I think this can be applied to the book Eat Pray Love because the main character, Elizabeth goes to Bali to “discover herself” and to be more connected with her body. So it seems as though the culture has been transmitted to Westerners in a mostly accurate way but the question lies in whether the culture has changed its focus towards Westerners ideals of what Bali should be in order to promote tourism.

Influences

I wanted to discuss the phenomenon where shortly after the Okinawan performers came onto the Japanese music scene, the Japanese musicians began to incorporate Okinawan elements into their own music. In 1911, Sonoyama Tamihei, a Japenese composer, published “a set of piano variations on the Okinawan song ‘Nubui Kuduchi’, which he had heard during a two-year teaching assignment in Okinawa,” (Mishima 2008 a and b). This ethnoscape of multiple cultures and peoples interacting with each other is just as interesting as the influence of R and B on dub and reggae, which we studied earlier in the term.

I am interested in the Okinawan influence on Japanese music because of the folksiness to it- folk music is inherently about a peoples’ past and thus it is interesting that a different group of people would inherit that past and make it their own. Two themes, the exotic nature of southern islands and American influence on the cultures, are prevalent in both types of music which tie the two together. I think its interesting that different cultures had similar impacts on both the Japanese and Okinawan people.

Slavery and Cuba

I am writing about the slave trade from Africa to Cuba because of its influence on the music there. According to Sublette, Havana had a bigger music scene from “the early days of Spanish Colonization of the New world” than “the rest of the Antilles put together.” However, Sublette doesn’t delve into this point right afterwards but rather goes into the similarities and differences in African American and Afro-Cuban music (probably because of the slave trades influence on both America and Cuba), citing, “call and response, importance of rhythm, and spirit possession.”

I was interested in these three aspects because of how they related to other music we have studied in the call and response aspect and in the importance of rhythm. Though I’ll admit I don’t always understand the direct references to rhythm and beats, I will say that I’ve recognized that the patterns in rhythm are very crucial to the definition of types of music. I wish the author had gone into a deeper analysis of how the slave trade affected music though- of how slaves brought their regional musicality together into a cohesive sound.

 

Fair Play

This post is about the Fair reading. I found it easy to read and to understand, as well as relatable to a degree. Obviously I have never had the government make me wear a uniform if I was in a band and make me sing about nationalism, but I understand the freeing powers of music. Growing up in a very musical family has taught me to free my mind through both the practice and listening of music, and without that I feel like my life would have lacked the richness that it has had so far.

The Fair reading touches on some points about how taarab music is strongly tied to freedom, particularly women’s rights and livelihoods. One woman said that it was the thing she most looked forward to in the day, which I can understand after going to many concerts and having them be the highlight of my week. I guess the main point I wanted to make in this post is that I really liked the discussion of how music can be freeing, particularly for women, because it was understandable in a sociopolitical context.

Divided Spaces

The main point I got from the Shian reading was that the different social spaces that bands could play emphasized a certain kind of audience, reception and status. The audience at say, The Meridian Hotel is, according to Shian, quite different from that of a local club where they charge between $2.50-$5 US dollars. There also is a difference in reception, the people at a certain hotel didn’t even dance, the music was just there for entertainment during a buffet dinner. And their status by playing at each of these places was highly socially constructed as in the bands themselves had an idea of what it meant to play at a certain place and the place had an idea of status and where it fell in the rankings as well.

This seems to reflect similarly to the USA places of listening to music, for example the Hollywood bowl is a very different venue than the Los Angeles House of Blues or the Mondrian hotel. However, the author did not talk about the equalizing effect that recordings have on music. Anybody can pick up any recording pretty much, in the USA at least, which reflects a kind of musical democracy that makes the audience, reception and status of the venue all not matter as much as the band themselves. I wish the author had explored this pathway a little more because I wonder if it is different in Dakar/Africa as it is in the USA.