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View Full Version : is saying "i'm into world music" a good enough reason for me to dislike someone



stelfox
29-03-2005, 12:21 PM
i think it is.
there's so much baggage attached to the term "world music" that the use of it, without scare quotes and as a legitimate genre classification, immediately gets my hackles up.
mainly i consider it horribly patronising and indicative of a really wack-ass variety of cultural tourism, specifically undertaken from a kind of wholegrain elitist, paternalistic anti-pop position that grates on me something rotten when you consider that the very best in "world music" is actually simply "of the people" (actually the literal meaning of shaabi in arabic, apparently), just as much as dancehall, grime reggaeton etc.
am i being really intolerant here, or are these afro celt soundsystem types really as far beneath my contempt as i believe?
(fwiw, i have met many of these people, especially since i actually like quite a bit of music that isn't from the uk or the usa and happen to write about it now and again. very rarely have i liked any of them).

Noah Baby Food
29-03-2005, 12:27 PM
You're spot on. Don't even worry about it.


...like people who imbue "world music" with some automatic deep profound meaning because it's made by genuine poor foreign people (and they can't understand the words). Remember John Peel commenting on this after playing the Bundu Boys or something, saying that the words are probably as dumb as yer average Western chart pop...

World Music is as bullshit and imperialist a term as Urban, I recks.

stelfox
29-03-2005, 12:34 PM
...like people who imbue "world music" with some automatic deep profound meaning because it's made by genuine poor foreign people.

that's what i meant by saying it was patronising. i guess what i'm getting at is that these people look down on US and British street music, and by extension the people that make and listen to it, yet eulogise the same class of people and their art if they happen to be "exotic" enough. for instance, one guy i know professes to love kwaito and baile funk now, but still can't handle anything "the chavs" might like.

baboon2004
29-03-2005, 03:40 PM
Jeez, I remember saying something reasonably similar to this on ILM ages ago and getting crucified for it.

To be honest I was coming at it from a different angle: as I remember, I was lamenting the fact that I found much of what I saw as the world music 'canon' to be quite dull, and wondering where I could find more genuinely exciting records by the likes of Thione Seck or Etoile 2000. My implication was that many Westerners seem to jump upon the first album from an exotic country they see and imbue it with imagined profundity, seemingly forgetting that just because a record is from Zambia or Ecuador does not mean that it automatically has any more musical ingenuity than your average Phil Collins disc.

bassnation
29-03-2005, 04:25 PM
i think it is.

lol, really?

see, before this post i had you down as owning all of transglobal undergrounds lps and singles plus anything by ravi shankars son, etc. are you really telling us thats not the case? ;)

Tactics
29-03-2005, 04:37 PM
You're spot on. Don't even worry about it.


...like people who imbue "world music" with some automatic deep profound meaning because it's made by genuine poor foreign people (and they can't understand the words). Remember John Peel commenting on this after playing the Bundu Boys or something, saying that the words are probably as dumb as yer average Western chart pop...

World Music is as bullshit and imperialist a term as Urban, I recks.


wow..bang on man..this is the best reply I've ever seen in my short time on Dissensus.

Noah Baby Food
29-03-2005, 04:45 PM
Props Tactics. I like it on here, it's quite stimulating.

3underscore
29-03-2005, 05:01 PM
i think it is.

I would agree. Comes along in the same boat as girls from Chelsea wearing headscarfs having just come back from a gap year with a badly carved Bongo.

stelfox
29-03-2005, 08:03 PM
lol, really?

see, before this post i had you down as owning all of transglobal undergrounds lps and singles plus anything by ravi shankars son, etc. are you really telling us thats not the case? ;)

i do actually own a lot of indian music and that ananda shankar version of jumping jack flash is still one of the best records ever made in my book!

john eden
29-03-2005, 10:46 PM
John just asked me, "would you wear a patchwork quilt and go around saying, Yeah man, I'm into world music".

And I said, Yeah, I probably would.

paul.meme

Woebot
30-03-2005, 08:48 AM
John just asked me, "would you wear a patchwork quilt and go around saying, Yeah man, I'm into world music".

And I said, Yeah, I probably would.

now i've heard everything! :D

when exactly were you going to squeeze this in your busy schedule paul? sometime before the next ruthless takeover bid?

;)

Grievous Angel
30-03-2005, 09:56 AM
I'd just like to put on record that I quite like Transglobal Underground -- well, I like Temple Head an awful a lot, or at least I did ten years ago, and I seem to remember them being good at Megadog. And I'm convinced that I like Afro Celt Soundsystem, despite not being able to recall any of their music, or indeed anything at all about them.

I don't do ruthless take-overs, I do stakeholder-managed business design and launch -- never mind the blood on the floor, it's nothing, really.

(John's comment about "pathwork quilt clothes" really took me back to Stonehenge '88. Aaaahh, memories...)

PS: "world music" is just marketing shorthand to make it -- whatever "it" is -- easier to buy for people who don't have the encyclopaedic knowledge of messrs Stelfox, Woebot, Eden et al... you can look down on them for being middle class, middle brow, middle of the road...

... but I prefer to indulge them patronisingly.

There but for the grace of god, and all that...

jimet
30-03-2005, 02:36 PM
World Music is just such a deranged category that anyone who uses it has to be a dimwit. I mean, I'm certainly not an expert on the subject, but any category that includes Mohammed Raafi, Nusret Fateh Ali Khan and Baile Funk just has to be meaningless. And the Afrocelt sound system are utterly worthless. I saw them at a WOMAD thing a couple of years back and I've never seen such a flat joyless daniel lanoisesque take on "dance" in my whole life.

Pearsall
30-03-2005, 02:59 PM
Transglobal Underground - As disturbingly redolent of smelly white dreads, the Whirl-Y-Gig parachute, and crappy incense from Camden Market as '95-era Goa Trance, but without the fun.

Grievous Angel
30-03-2005, 05:59 PM
Yeah, I always wanted to go to WhirlYGig...

ambrose
30-03-2005, 11:31 PM
hahaha if you listen to radi o4 enough you might know that they "trail" 1xtra on radio 4 (thanks new dickface radio4 controller!) loads with this sort of ad that goes "there are three new shows of world music on 1xtra" and talking about richie vibe vees show or something, it is totally sanitised and funny!

very apt for this thread.

as for world music, it is a bit irritating. i guess as a term its just bee naround along enough for people to think it means something mroe than a ridiculous catch all term. i dont think its a good enough reason to dislike anyone, co9s whos gives a flying fuck, but anwyay.

funnily enough, this phenomenon, of imbuing things from outsdie the UK or US as "intellectual" or "arthouse" in terms of film, which is the same impulse i think, really fucks me off. it shouldnt be that unusual to watch films made in different countries, but everytime you mention a film from korea, russia or wherever, you are immediately means that you think youre clever, arthouse loving film buff. but people in other countries make dumb films too!
that annoys me more, people giving me hassle just cos im going to see some azeri rom com or something

michael
31-03-2005, 07:36 AM
funnily enough, this phenomenon, of imbuing things from outsdie the UK or US as "intellectual" or "arthouse" in terms of film, which is the same impulse i think, really fucks me off.

Fully. My nearest video shop has a "cult" section which includes your Troma stuff and things not in English that are probably cult films, eg. old Almodovar, but seems to just throw in all other movies not in English, including Crouching Tiger, the original version of Shaolin Soccer, etc.

But certainly, WRT world music, it's a meaningless term, and using it does suggest some kind of dumb view of the world. OTOH, maybe people who love a range of shit from outside of Western pop/folk styles are as fed up with trying to explain to numbnuts what they listen to as some of the posters on this forum?

I do remember a comment from Nitin Sawney (in a Face article I think?) that at festivals and things a bunch of non-Indian hippies would come and tell him how spiritual they found his music. He would do the reasonable thing and ask them to clarify how or why they found it spiritual, watching as they'd talk themselves into a corner. IIRC. I definitely recall he joked that if he farted into a mic they'd call it mystical.

Ambrose, don't suppose you chose your user name from Mr Lunch's side kick (http://www.jotto.com/pages/LUbirds.html) in a series of kids' books? :) This is where you tell me it's just your name and I feel special. :o

droid
31-03-2005, 12:55 PM
Whilst Im down with all this Transglobal/Afro Celt bashing, to me all that stuff would more aptly be described as 'fusion' rather than 'world'... which to me is nothing more than a convenient MP3 genre for the various types of acoustic folk music from around the world... y'know - stuff like the Lomax 'Primitive Musics' series, the Smithsonian 'Music of indonesia' LPS, all the Nonesuch 'Explorer' LP's ('Ghana - High-Life & other Popular Music' is one that's been floating my boat recently), the 'Music of Islam' collection etc... theres tons of this stuff available, and some of it is absoloutely mind-blowingly good...

So I suppose Id have to say that (ulp) I am one of these people who would admit to 'liking' world music (though I think I have a very different defintion of what the term means). What else are you going to do? List all the music you like from every country on the planet? It would take bloody ages! :p

If world music equals the transglobal/afro celt/Sawney 'fusion' sound (which seems to be the consensus here), then wot DO you call 'real' world music? ie: indigenous folk and classical music from around the globe?

john eden
31-03-2005, 01:04 PM
If world music equals the transglobal/afro celt/Sawney 'fusion' sound (which seems to be the consensus here), then wot DO you call 'real' world music? ie: indigenous folk and classical music from around the globe?

I think you call it "indigenous folk and classical music from xxxx", where xxxx = country or region.

This idea that every kind of music from everywhere except europe (etc) can be jammed into one category is completely mental.

I mean, reggae gets filed under "world music" in some shops I've been into, FFS!

Wasn't there a David Byrne piece on all this?

john eden
31-03-2005, 01:05 PM
Yes there was, John:

http://www.luakabop.com/david_byrne/cmp/worldmusic.html

john eden
31-03-2005, 01:06 PM
Yes there was, John:

http://www.luakabop.com/david_byrne/cmp/worldmusic.html

alright! cheers, John, I'll have to reread that when I get a minute :D

droid
31-03-2005, 01:36 PM
I think you call it "indigenous folk and classical music from xxxx", where xxxx = country or region.

Hmm.. more accurate I agree, but not too useful for organisational purposes, or conciseness.


This idea that every kind of music from everywhere except europe (etc) can be jammed into one category is completely mental.

Again - this is a case of definitions, but theres plenty of European (and Amercian) folk music in my 'world' collection...


I mean, reggae gets filed under "world music" in some shops I've been into, FFS!

Pretty silly alright.



Wasn't there a David Byrne piece on all this?

Intresting stuff there. I pretty much agree with him about most of it, and i guess my definition of 'world' music is a lot narrower than the average record shops...

ambrose
31-03-2005, 02:32 PM
haha yeh i didnt have uch say in choosing my name, it got stuck on my birth certificate

that mr lunch thing is fucked up, is that a joke?!?!

i dont think its necessarily difficult for organisational purposes to distinguish by country or even by a larger regional area, 'world music". why is it acceptable to have 10 different sections of house and techno all european say, and then not to at least give another country its own section?

Grievous Angel
01-04-2005, 03:26 PM
BTW I'd say something about

wholegrain elitist, paternalistic anti-pop position


on the "is pop the work of the devil (yes it is and don't you dare talk back)" thread up the way, but I don't want to get bullied by the older kids.

stelfox
01-04-2005, 06:57 PM
well, i'm a big fan of pop and hope never to stop being one, so i'm not even going near that thread. however, i take the view that many kinds of pop function extremely well as folk music, too, and vice versa (and that's without even going into the avant side of the equation). however, i don't reckon that yr typical froots-reading, real-world-record-collecting, fair-trade-mung-bean-buying, suv-driving type recognises this complimentary duality, that's my problem. but hell, i've decided it's not reason enough to actively dislike anyone, anyway. there are far more important things to worry about than what some people (including me) might consider the right and wrong ways to listen to music.

steve-k
02-04-2005, 09:36 AM
Ho hum is all I can say to this. Didn't people ridicule this 'world music' Putumayo supported stereotype years ago.

I've gotten linked by editors to the subgroup 'world music writers' because I've written about salsa, konpa, Congolese rumba, soca, dancehall and other non-Anglo styles, and I don't let it bother me much. In a music critic world dominated by coverage of Anglo rockers, I'm happy to give a little attention to others(and I like my share of Anglo rockers also), and my anger is more reserved for those editors who, despite years of 'world music' marketing, political correctness, 'diversity and multiculturalism', still make little effort to cover anything but rock music.

steve-k
02-04-2005, 10:00 AM
Yes dumb movies and dumb music can come from anywhere, and no one should act superior because they like international artists, but no one should be simplistically labeled or dismissed because they like something that isn't in every theatre or every major store for sale everywhere.

stelfox
02-04-2005, 03:03 PM
well, that's the thing, steve. i'm in pretty much the same boat as far as the categorisation by editors (although my experience would suggest that i'm thought of as a "weirdo" rather than a "world music writer" - this may or may not be right, depending on your own opinion). it's just that when i end up discussing music with a lot of other "world music" fans, writers, etc i often find myself questioning their motivation.
i can't get over the fact that there's a lot of clueless and completely contradictory snobbery re music sung in english and patois etc within this group. the more i consider it, though, the more i think this lands squarely on that old, somewhat tired battleground of "taste" - like in some quarters there appears to be an idea that shaabi, bhangra, zouk etc are somehow more "cultured" than ragga, grime, street rap etc, when for my money, they come from exactly the same place, give or take geography.
it's a weird one, although i am finding it quite useful in getting people to listen to reggaeton. the same people who slam ragga (sometimes justifiably) for its slackness etc seem not to mind reggaeton and baile funk so much and i think this comes down to two things 1) lack of cultural proximlty i.e. it's "exotic" coz it's in another language and not heard on every street corner (i'm talking abt the uk here, which is interesting enough in itself because this point absolutely doesn't apply in the states, where reggaeton enjoys almost total ubiquity now) and 2) abject lack of understanding! even the most basic grasp of colloquial spanish (and mine is very basic, my portuguese even more so) reveals that reggaeton and baile funk can claim very little moral high ground!
it's also about the equally tired bugbear of "realness" insofaras i know people who claim to be fans of indian music, especially bhangra, but really dislike people like zeus, rdb, tigerstyle et al because they see their work as diluted, cheesy etc. the same goes for the person who said he liked some reggaeton, but preferred the stuff that sounded like "proper" salsa! anyway, as i say, this is based on specific experiences on my part and not a reductive hypothesis. however, i definitely overdid it with the stereotypes earlier, though, and it hasn't helped the argument at all!

jenks
02-04-2005, 03:25 PM
well, i'm a big fan of pop and hope never to stop being one, so i'm not even going near that thread.
phew so it's not just me ;)

seahorsegenius
03-04-2005, 02:35 PM
yes it is.

steve-k
03-04-2005, 03:52 PM
I think there are more important things to worry about than popists, or 'world music' enthusiasts who are uh, afraid of pop(or should I say programmed beats). Stelfox, I know what you mean about folks who embrace roots reggae but snear at all dancehall, or who embrace salsa but snear at all reggaeton. With many folks I understand the thinking that just wants to make you disklike them, but on the other hand I know some people who are very knowledgeable about roots reggae or salsa, and who dislike dancehall and reggaeton respectively, and I can't as easily dismiss their criticisms of the more current genres. But ultimately, I just want to see more coverage in newspaper and magazines of any of the of above though, rather than more articles about anglo-rock. With more coverage by genre specialists, perhaps we'd see less of the overly simplistic "I'm into world music" stuff.

Rudy Meixell
05-04-2005, 07:49 PM
Why would you automatically assume that someone who likes salsa would like reggaeton or that someone who likes roots reggae would automatically like dancehall, to begin with? To me that sounds like a lumping together of styles of music that don't share similar aesthetics. Kind of like asking why someone who likes Motown wouldn't also like Detroit techno.

Rudy Meixell
05-04-2005, 09:15 PM
Also, for those of us who are mostly not thrilled with entirely electronic music (and I include myself in that group), "world music" (a term I don't like either) provides a lot of alternatives for those of us with reactionary (another term I don't like in this context) taste in music. If I want to hear Khaled in less of a slick pop-oriented context than the new album (based on what I've heard of it), something like Enzo Avitabile's Save the World is a pretty nice option.

Melchior
06-04-2005, 01:05 AM
Why would you automatically assume that someone who likes salsa would like reggaeton or that someone who likes roots reggae would automatically like dancehall, to begin with? To me that sounds like a lumping together of styles of music that don't share similar aesthetics. Kind of like asking why someone who likes Motown wouldn't also like Detroit techno.

Dancehall is a direct decendant of roots in way that techno isn't a direct descendent of motown. That's a terrible analogy.

Rudy Meixell
06-04-2005, 01:46 AM
Okay, forget the analogy. (At least when it comes to dancehall. I have read that dancehall at least partly grew out of mento--I hope I have that right--a religious/folkloric genre that hadn't really fed into reggae, but I don't know too much about this, so I'm not going to try to argue that point.) Regardless, when I first started hearing dancehall, it sounded and felt really different to me than roots reggae/dub did. I never really clicked with it. I was still a teen at the time I first heard it, and it's not as though I wasn't listening to other things with a programmed beat. (And I was later to get into hip-hop for a while.)

steve-k
06-04-2005, 05:55 AM
Some people don't like music that is rhythm-based and reliant on programmed beats. I don't happen to be one of them. Some 'world music' fans are that way, and while some fit Stelfox's annoying stereotype, others don't. It's also interesting that on another thread that Woebot is expressing surprise at people who are embracing 'weird folk' and he's trying to link it to electronica partisans, when it's likely just people in seek of melody-oriented material(no matter how drab the melodies may be, and no matter that electronic beat-oriented musics can have hooks as well). At a recent soul/oldies show I was at, members of the Dramatics were mocking rap. I'm not endorsing that attitude, but I think supporters of beat-oriented music have to deal with that response.

As much as I enjoy Jace DJ Rupture Clayton's blog which includes lots of international music, I was a bit annoyed once when in praising Youssou N'Dour, he seemed to offer a backhanded compliment about how Yousou's latest was great despite it not being beat-oriented (I'm paraphrasing by memory and may not have that exactly right). Chuck Eddy also dismisses much afropop as National Public Radio/Public tv/middlebrow music. I think there are participants in both afropop and african rap who have something to offer that I value (no matter who makes up their audience demographics).

redcrescent
06-04-2005, 09:13 AM
salsa reggaeton roots reggae dancehall Motown Detroit techno.Dunno, there's great stuff in all of these, and I wouldn't want to be without any of it.


"world music" (a term I don't like either) provides a lot of alternatives for those of us with reactionary (another term I don't like in this context) taste in music.Is this meant to be as funny as it reads?


I have read that dancehall at least partly grew out of mento--I hope I have that right--a religious/folkloric genre that hadn't really fed into reggae, but I don't know too much about this, so I'm not going to try to argue that point.No offense, but you're right, you don't know too much about this.

Rudy Meixell
06-04-2005, 01:49 PM
Dunno, there's great stuff in all of these, and I wouldn't want to be without any of it.


Sure, I can understand someone feeling that way. I just don't think that it should be surprising or somehow automatically suspect for someone to like salsa and not like reggaeton, or to like roots reggae and not like dancehall. (Reggaeton is definitely growing on me, anyway, but yes, I prefer it to sound distinctively Latin in some way (beyond being in Spanish), which shouldn't come as a big surprise from someone who is a salsa fan.)


No offense, but you're right, you don't know too much about this.

I really don't, it's true. Maybe I will search the archives. Not sure I'm interested enough in the subject to read a book about it.

stelfox
06-04-2005, 02:34 PM
i would like to offer my sincerest apologies to dissensus for this thread

steve-k
08-04-2005, 06:55 AM
Stelfox, on ILM you complain about how rude people are to you, and then you praise Dissensus for being civil. Now here you're pulling a snotty, haughty move with your last comment. Not that you care, but I enjoy reading you enthusing about dancehall cuts and other things you like, more then your dismissive comments about folks who don't meet your standards.

I'm going to see Haitian band Djakout Mizik over the weekend. Perhaps they'll prove more interesting than disecting which music enthusiast is cooler than another.

Rudy Meixell
08-04-2005, 02:52 PM
the same goes for the person who said he liked some reggaeton, but preferred the stuff that sounded like "proper" salsa!

Is this meant to imply that reggaeton is some type of salsa? It's not "improper salsa," it's not salsa at all (unless you're using salsa to mean pretty much any type of Latin music, but most people who are salsa dancers don't use it that way).

But anyway, it shouldn't be a surprise that someone who likes salsa might prefer reggaeton that resembles or references it even a little bit, more than reggaeton that doesn't.

(Don't worry stelfox, I'm not planning on sticking around. Despite having some idea of what areas of music this board emphasized, it's much more narrowly focused (which is fine) than I'd realized. It might be good to clue people in to that either in the FAQ or as part of the name, or something.)

steve-k
08-04-2005, 03:38 PM
Stelfox knows what reggaeton is and how it is completely different from salsa. He just seems to have lost his patience with those who don't know the difference, and with those who say they like 'world music' but don't listen to programmed beat-driven genres like dancehall or reggaeton.

Rudy, don't let him scare you away. Not everyone's an expert. Stelfox seems to have forgotten that there are many people out there who would probably see reggaeton, dancehall, and 'world music' as gibberish terms that mean nothing to them.

stelfox
08-04-2005, 04:10 PM
steve, please don't lecture me on how to behave. that comment was actually aimed elsewhere. i thought the entire thread was becoming a bit of a mess and hadn't really got anywhere. it wasn't directed to any individual. it was a bit facetious, but then again so is everything i've said here. anyway, now you've made your feelings perfectly (and rather pompously) clear, and i hope you feel better for it.

afrobongo
24-04-2005, 12:15 PM
what happenned here ?

mms
24-04-2005, 01:49 PM
what do you say when people ask you what music you like?
:p

afrobongo
24-04-2005, 05:20 PM
i talk about genres, countries, artists...

depends