Book: Global repertoires

I spent today browsing the book “Global Repertoires – Popular music within and beyond the transnational music industry” edited by Andreas Gebesmair and Alfred Smudits (Ashgate 2001). Based on papers from a conference on Music and Globalization in Vienna in 1999 the book is divided in three parts. The first part focuses on the strategies of the transnational music industry, the second part on aspects of globalization and popular music outside the music industry while the third part presents approaches and methods.

One of the more interesting papers presented is Deborah Pacini Hernandez’s titled “Race, ethnicity and the production of Latin/o popular music” (p. 57-72) which stresses the role of migration in (cultural) globalization. The article itself first problemizes the terms “Latin”, “Latino” and “Latin American” and the use of “Latin music” by the music industry as a category for both “Latino” (US-residents with a degree of Latin American ancestry) and Latin American music (which encompass a wide range of diverse styles in Latin America). She also discusses how in the US “Latin music” is treated as inferior to “American” music. The second part of the paper demonstrates the diversity of Latino music in the US based on migration patterns and how the artists incorporate different styles creating new hybrid musics which further undermine the category “Latin music”.

The paper “Up and down the music world. An anthropology of globalization” by Joana Breidenbach and Ina Zukrigl starts of with a summary of ethnographic methodology (nothing new mentioned there for ethnomusicologists). The second part of the article is more interesting, focusing on four hypotheses around the globalization of culture. These are issues of

  • how global influences are dealt with locally (from quotas to appropriation),
  • the very fluid and contested concept of authenticity (and who defines it),
  • the change of centre-periphery relationships (emergence of new centers, the disjuncture between centers for production, mediation and consumption and the challenging of old power relations within copyright law) and
  • how through an emerging global culture a common set of structures (like categories) are created which organize the content (artists have to “fit in” to a record label category)

To round off, here’s a good quote by Richard Peterson from his paper “Globalization and communalization of music in the production perspective” (p. 119-136): “In the late 1970s, the discontents of American punk rockers were fanned into virulent hatred rallying behind the slogan, ‘disco sucks.’ On the surface this was a dispute over musical aesthetics, but just below the surface the movement was a disempowered young white male ranting against a form of music that empowered women, blacks, and gays with middle-class consumerist expectations”. (p. 131)

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