Thursday, January 22, 2009

A world of Nothing but Traditional Musics

Pictured is just section of our world music recordings.

In the past at our North American Embassy, or now at our Austronesian outpost, visitors have been surprised that our recording archives consist of far more ‘world music’ than contemporary western music. Likewise when we were sponsoring the radio show ‘The Wandering Medicine Show’ on KXLU for 8 years, many were surprised or offended I didn’t play the latter music (or their own).
Our own experiences playing within the LA punk scene infused a great appreciation of music that comes about spontaneously as opposed to being manufactured. Let it be known that it was the only option available to perform my music live, especially in front of an audience that did not need to be ‘educated’ in it to appreciate it. 70% of that music done at that time might not even fit with present days definitions of “punk” but that spirit informed it. It had less influence from the outside than one might conceive and should be seen as one of the indigenous music movements that occurred in LA, this one in the late 70’s up to the mid 80s. The important thing was it nature of it as a ‘spontaneous’ movement, a ‘free improvisation of a genre’ on a truly large scale. Such things happened and continue to happen in other places and times. Such spirits still continue to rumble under out feet often when we least expect it and in the most likely locales. The true history of music lies in the madness of such spontaneous movements.
When we think of traditional music we have finally gotten to a point we recognize that it is not a child that has been kept in a suspended animation without growing and changing. The amount and frequencies of these changes has come in every form one can possibly imagine. Each tradition its own history. What can be defined as being a traditional music though is in it being informed by its past and/or by the artifacts existing in the present of the culture. In this sense, experimental music is another traditional music, modern traditional or traditional modern (or post-). If viewed this way, it is the largest ethnic collection represented in our collection.
One might argue that it is the most varied but I would caution this might be from our cultural perception/prejudges. Jung pointed out that the lack of perceived differentiation is a sign of something being unconscious.
It does appear to myself that the west have a tradition of ‘schisms’,
Which seem to have increased to more and more rapid succession. With these often it is history itself that is often repressed. The repressed on the other hand often institutionalized omits what it cannot “explain” historically or possibly technologically. Schisms regardless “cut off’ information, from past and future, and even from the near and far. Never before have we had such a proliferations of genre labels that approach a higher proportion to the number of actual practitioners. Already we find that an artist might have to use 7 genres to define what they do.
The problem is what is left out, what walls are being constructed in the culture. It is a form of segregation and designates what one cannot do. The result often is a constant reinvention without much addition. While we may recognize that the spirit is different possibly this is a cultures’ way of assimilating the multiple meanings of actions. A time of reflection as opposed to growth. One should expect such periods but not by such means. It becomes a cycle one cannot escape
As much as one culture might say that anything is now possible, I am amused by just exactly what they do not and can not reach found somehow. That culture has its inclinations no less restricted than many of the others. The concept of “evolution” is a dangerous one in regard to music, as if everyone will do what the west will or has done. A real understanding points how a music will develop along the lines that it can, but does do so regardless of the limited means. Someone paraphrased something I said that music is something that does

What all traditional musics offer is the result of a ‘collective cultural imagination’. It is for this a focus on all the various forms human imagination has fruitfulness

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