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Filigrane (France) n°5: Music and globalization


Filigrane n°5: Music and globalization

Translation: Joyce Shintani





Music and globalisation. One can approach this topic in two ways. The first is to analyse the impact globalisation has on music in the economic sense. It is an approach currently advanced in mass media, in specialised economic studies, etc. But since Filigrane is a journal whose focus is on art, for the present issue we have chosen a second approach: to examine within music itself the ways it contributes to so-called globalisation; to examine what the term means, etc. To date, there have been few inquiries of this nature, and for this reason we decided to make a call for contributions, particularly from young researchers or from established musicologists seeking to break new ground tackling this delicate topic. Moreover, our call for contributions detailed the terms of the debate as Filigrane seeks to conduct it:
Globalisation – one word, a simple word, that from now on is part of our daily life. Taken up as we are in the ordeal of short term economic and political events (and it is true, we have every reason for concern!), we have a tendency to forget that there are several types of globalisation, and that their impact is not restricted to the domain of art. Art, particularly music, has often worked toward a kind of universalism that current political terminology would characterise as ‘alter-globalisation’. From the fifties to the sixties, when the foundations of neoliberal Europe were being laid, many musicians were already dreaming of Japan or Indonesia. Today, the plunderers of sound and musical heritages have a strong counterbalance in musicians who, through métissage, truly take care to transmit not reified sonic images but authentic musical practice and thought. Without claiming to be exhaustive, this issue of Filigranehopes to bear witness to the lively existence of music for which globalisation is not synonymous with uniformity. This call for contributions is open to propositions on every musical ‘genre’, whatever its geographical provenance. Of course, it is also open to original contributions analysing neoliberal globalisation and its consequences for music.
The propositions that we retained cover a considerable number of fields. They also point the way to future analyses that Filigrane will soon develop through the organisation of an international colloquium (see News).
The first four articles treat contemporary music. The first author is himself a child of globalisation. Alexandre Lunsqui is a young Brazilian composer who lives in New York and studied with French composer Tristan Murail. His article analyses the roots of globalisation, then turns to the question of métissage and exchanges between music cultures. As example, he explores the use of the berimbau, an Afro-Brazilian instrument, in contemporary music. The next article is by Marie-Hélène Bernard who writes here as musicologist, but she is also a composer. Through her article the reader will discover the fascinating adventure of the Chinese composer generation of the ‘cultural revolution’, who have swarmed out onto the international scene. From Chen Zhen, a Chinese visual artist of the same generation, the author borrows three concepts with which she analyses their course: “residence, resonance, resistance”. The short article that follows is by a Czech composer who just finished his studies at the Paris Conservatory (CNSMD), Ondrej Adámek. It could be called the ‘manifesto’ of a young composer who loves borrowing elements from various geographic sonic horizons, but who is, at the same time, aware of the dangers of sonic homogenisation. Finally, in the last article of the first section, the young musicologist Sara Bourgenot studies the collaboration between a young composer of contemporary music, André Serre-Milan, and a West African musician, Yé Lassina Coulibaly. One could say that this type of musical creation inaugurates a new stage of ‘alter-globalisation’ in the history of contemporary music – Xenakis paid abstract homage to Africa in his piece Okho, and Steve Reich ‘assimilated’ Africa in Drumming, but in the present collaboration we witness total collaboration.
The second section has three texts dedicated to Arabic music. In his article, Amine Beyhom takes a critical look at our call for contributions that invited contributions on ‘authentic’ métissages. He asks, “What are the criteria of authenticity?” This article analyses the “dynamic pairs modernism/tradition and globalisation/identity using new music examples taken from the Near East, particularly from Lebanon, a spearhead of syncretism in the region”. The author writes here as musicologist, but readers are invited to listen to him as a musician in his productions that blend jazz and Arabic music. The following article is by Nidaa Abou Mrad, who is also musicologist and musician. (As a musician he is known for his reconstructions of pieces from the Abbasid period that use alphabetic notation.) In this article he traces the history of crisscrossing and exchange between the West and the Near East, from 1000 to 1932 (date of the famous Congress of Arabic Music in Cairo). Let us say outright that this article is diametrically opposed to Filigrane’sposition, because it defends the notion that today, exchange between these two musical-cultural worlds can only occur if they return to their traditions. Nevertheless, it is a position represented in current debate, and for this reason we include it here. The section is concluded with an article by the young researcher Mohamed-Ali Kammoun, who elucidates the aesthetic stakes of the métissage between jazz and Arab music in Tunisia. For this task, he employs statistics from a survey as well as musical analyses.
The third section is opened with an article by ethnomusicologist Jacques Bouët, who is interested in preserving local cultures. He particularly questions the validity of practices which nullify the function of local culture, for example, by transforming their music into concert music. He remarks, “On the whole, the ethnomusicologist’s patient monographic work and its retransmission to local populations represent a more realistic hope of preservation than borrowing or transplantation. In effect, if the populations concerned agree to carry on the work, it can trigger a process of lasting revival.” The following article by the young ethnomusicologist Bruno Messina, “The Third Music”, takes another track. The author refuses to take part in the discourse that bemoans the loss of ‘authenticity’ in uniform music productions resulting from globalisation, for, according to him, this would incur the danger of identity withdrawal. Resolutely optimistic, he finds that music – culture – knows what it takes to survive, and it can re-establish itself endlessly outside of the mechanisms within musical domination. The section concludes with a piece by the young researcher Laurent Denave who investigates the astonishing worldwide expansion of gamelan music since the seventies. What is the cause of this, he inquires, examining the ideological aspect in particular. His answer, which merits more nuances, is captivating: the expansion is linked to the ‘conservative revolution’ in the USA, which has appropriated so-called multicultural education for its own ends.
The two last articles by musicologist Christian Corre and the young researcher Eve-Norah Pauset open novel paths of investigation. Christian Corre investigates the appellation (contrôlée?) of world music. Through this term, he seeks to interrogate “some hitherto unprecedented forms of involvement between musical and (geo)political fields, between post modern myths and recent realities (humanitarian, technological). Here, he would situate the birth of a new ‘world symbol’ (in the sense of Eugène Fink), to which only the medium of music can give substance.” Eve-Norah Pauset, for her part, undertakes a critical analysis of the text adopted by the thirty-third UNESCO general conference, theConvention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.


Makis Solomos



Alexandre Lunsqui: Music and Globalization: Diversity, Banalization and Culturalization

This article analyses the roots of globalisation, its political, social, and economical developments, and how the phenomenon has affected music produced today. Geared toward consumerism and economical expansion, most of the societies in today’s world are on a collision course with cultural values of a less materialistic nature. Some questions arising from the analysis: Is it possible to go beyond mere flirtation with other cultures around the world – especially the ‘exotic’ ones – to pursue a balanced and enriching cross-fertilization among these cultures? How can music escape the purely market-oriented goals of today’s corporately controlled globalisation, if artists themselves become the paradigms of cultural banality? The article also shows the use of an African-Brazilian instrument, the berimbau, in contemporary music as a form of in-depth research and exchange among different creative practices.



Marie-Hélène Bernard: Chinese Composers and Globalisation 

After the Cultural Revolution a whole generation of Chinese composers arrived on the international music scene. It is not possible to dissociate this movement from the phenomenon of artistic globalisation, since almost all of these composers have spread out over the different continents and are working outside of their original cultural context. To clarify the paths taken by these composers, we shall use the categories “residence, resonance and resistance” elaborated by Chen Zhen, a Chinese visual artist of the same generation. 1. Residence. How can we possibly group together under this term composers living in the United States, northern Europe and even … in China?  We cannot look to geography to find a common basis, but rather to history. Ten years of Cultural Revolution followed by another ten, during which China opened up to the West (before espousing the market economy), have had a very strong impact on this generation of composers. 2. Resonance. In the delicate alchemy that takes place between Western technique and Chinese musical tradition, we can see a certain inter-penetration of different layers of memory. Studying the works of these composers, we can see how much these influences reverberate, overlap, or contradict each other in a continual circulation of ideas. 3. Resistance. We notice that many of these Chinese composers have a growing tendency to distance themselves from Western contemporary music; it is a world one must be part of if one wants recognition; it acts as a kind of superego, without being fully accepted. By expressing a return to simplicity and more melodic musical expression (topics also present in the post-modern discourse), we can see the resurgence of a very old Chinese aesthetic concept, the ideal of the ‘natural’ (ziran: to be what one is).



Ondrej Adámek: Only One Music

The article begins by naming two aspects of globalisation. On the one hand, the idea is advanced that music is ‘global’, in other words that there are not various ‘musics’, there is only one music – it is all music, regardless of intended style, spiritual dimension, country of origin… On the other hand is the fact that globalisation can appear as a threat. The rest of the article offers some compositional examples to illustrate the proposals.



Sara Bourgenot: Globalisation : Between Dispossession and Enrichment

Music has always changed, and it will continue to do so for a long time to come. The last decades have witnessed the increase of exchanges through the galloping advance of a phenomenon that has spread to all domains of society – globalisation. The example considered here is the collaboration between two composers, André Serre-Milan and Yé Lassina Coulibaly, who come from two different but complementary musical universes. The example attempts to present an optimistic vision of globalisation, void of commercial prejudice, through a musical approach that is experimental, creative, and ample.



Amine Beyhom: Criteria of Authenticity in Musical métissage and Validation. The Example of Arabic Music

‘Musical encounters’ are considered as one of the ‘normal’ results of globalisation. One of the corollaries of this assertion is an attitude (widespread today, whose origin lies in Western music’s quest for the exotic), whereby the musical creator feels entitled to draw on the different world musical traditions, like catalogues of cultural offerings, in order to enhance his or her own personal offering, or simply to enhance the chances of being heard in a local or global music scene. Different kinds of ‘métissage’ result, which are differently appreciated by audiences, musicians, and musicologists. 
In this article, the author undertakes an analysis of the dynamic pairs modernism vs. tradition and globalisation vs. identity, using new music examples taken from the Near East, particularly from Lebanon, a spearhead of syncretism in the region. Particular examination of the augmented second, corresponding in modern theories of maqâm to the tetrachord interval h'ijâz (or h'ijâz-kâr), permits a better localisation of the global problem approached in this article. The conclusion that emerges from these analyses is that the first dynamic pair (modernism vs. tradition) is distorted by the second dynamic pair (globalisation vs. identity), and that the products of these cultural exchanges reflect the reality of the political situation of the last two centuries. Globalisation results in almost total loss of local cultural identity, and for Arab countries (if not for all others) modernisation (confused with ‘evolution’ by most cultural players) has become synonymous with ‘Westernisation’.
Rather than dwell on a negative statement, in the last part of the article the author attempts to define a series of criteria that could serve to ‘authenticate’ a musical product resulting from such ‘encounters’, taking Arabic music as an example. He thereby maintains as a pre-condition the necessity for Arabs to return to their original musical sources; the same applies to other players on the ‘globalised’ musical scene.


Nidaa Abou Mrad: The Compatibility of Musical Systems and Syncretism. A Historical Perspective of Musical Globalisation in the Mediterranean to 1932 

Musical métissage has been a constant trait of Mediterranean culture since antiquity that, with regard to musical systems, has functioned at times in a homogeneous fashion, at others in a heterogeneous fashion. The proposition of this article is to concentrate on the importance of the compatibility of systems for understanding the aesthetic hazards of globalisation in the Mediterranean. The historical perspective selected throws light on the ideological dimension of these musical parameters, seen according to semiotic ternary relations. At the neutral level, there are the basic melodic and rhythmic systematic pairs: monody and polyphony; modality and tonality; Zalzalian intonation (employing major and neutral seconds) and equally tempered diatonic intonation (employing whole and halftones); verbal and cyclical rhythmic preponderance. At the poïetic level (concerning production), there are principally two dialectics: a traditional, objective, transcendental model of poïesis and a subjective, immanent and technical poïesis; compositional improvisation and compositional fixation. At the aesthetic level (concerning reception), there is the opposition between music aesthetics, in the transcendent sense, and the immanent music aesthetics of individual taste. These oppositions are analysed using the paradigm of tradition/modernism, which made a forceful contribution in the passage of Mediterranean musical syncretism from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous stage. This investigation begins with the phase of relative syncretic homogeneity during the first millennium. It continues with the phase of modernist mutation in the ‘Christian’ West at the turn of the millennium, around 1000. This phase created a profound cultural and musical gap with a ‘Christian’ Orient and a ‘Muslim’ Orient that both remained traditional. The third phase is the period of clash between these two territories, the one modern, the other traditional, which initially provoked endogenous evolution in the Orient, followed by heterogeneous syncretism between modern and traditional systems. The study concludes in 1932, date of the famous Congress of Arabic Music in Cairo. At this point of inflexion, the Arab world took the path of generalised musical acculturation (under the pretext of cultural Darwinism) at the same time that in the West, music was enlarging its auditory horizons to include traditions of other locales and other historical periods.



Mohamed-Ali Kammoun: Jazz in Tunisia: Aesthetic Hazards of métissage and Globalisation

In this contribution we examine the aesthetic hazards of métissage and globalisation through the example of jazz in Tunisia. The notion of ‘jazz’ as a practice in a state of perpetual cross-over brings us in this case to speak of contemporary musical Arabian art. We are interested here in shedding light on this still unusual approach to consonance. Our aim is, thus, first of all to illustrate how jazz has developed in Tunisia, paying particular attention to its ‘Arabising’ transmutation and its global expansion. We then tackle the analytic characteristics of emerging processes of métissage; we will discuss the relationship between jazz and Tunisian music, and we will present a reading of Anouar Brahem’s œuvre. Our study draws on statistics from a survey conducted in February 2006 among young Tunisian musicians.



Jacques Bouët: Ethnomusicological Practice Faces Globalisation: Challenge or Utopia?”

The problem of preserving local music was originally tackled in a very naïve way, using museological practices that soon became obsolete. Strictly speaking, relics of extinct civilizations could be turned into exhibition objects; but there is no sense in treating the existing customs of contemporary civilizations in the same way, especially when they are swept along on the tidal wave of ever increasing globalisation. Nor is it proven that the great melting-pot of world music, which unthinkingly takes local musical practices out of context and outrageously meddles with the musical structures they generate, actually helps to preserve the specific creative spirit of traditional oral music. As in a museum, the scene where these local musical traditions flare up could well become their deathbed if they lose their original meaning. On the whole, the painstaking monographic work of ethnomusicologists and its return to the local populations which nurtured it should do more to keep this music alive than any cultural borrowing or transplanting. Indeed, such work is likely to trigger a process of lasting revival, provided the populations involved are ready to carry it on. Great hope also lies in the recent spread of ‘neo-traditional’ music; if it were possible to define priorities for its preservation and support, it should come first in the struggle to keep tradition alive.


Translation: Dana Petit



Bruno Messina: Third Music

For the ethnomusicologist, everything that refers to the uniforming of musical production within the framework of a globalised market offering runs the risk of losing ‘authenticity’ with regard to a traditional society’s ‘original’ music. In the face of this global Hydra, resistance manifests itself in the withdrawal of identity and the reduction to ‘authentic’ forms, even if they are repatriated to other places on the planet. But we know, at least since Hegel, that both the slave and the master have broken spirits, sealing their relationship to each other under the yoke of interdependence. Isn’t it time for us to exit from this seemingly indissoluble relationship? To listen to “third music” means wagering on every artist’s capacity to be cunningly creative outside of the mechanisms of domination and to offer the ear the possibility of discovering the world by side roads…



Laurent Denave: The Internationalisation of Gamelan Playing and the American Case of the Conservative Revolution

What explanation is there for the sudden interest in gamelan music outside of Indonesia that began in the seventies? The practice of playing gamelan spread first to the USA before it seduced other countries that seemed to follow the American example. The proliferation of gamelan ensembles in the US is explained by the birth of a new interest in the ‘diversity’ of world cultures (those of the Americas, but also of other regions of the world). So-called ‘multicultural’ music education adopted twenty years ago offers Americans a vast choice of worldwide musical activities, gamelan being just one among many. This new pedagogy is the transferral onto the field of music education of the conservative revolution, which is the principle of all right wing as well as left wing government policies since 1973; its principle effect has been the deepening of social inequality in that country. The conservative revolution has extended throughout the world in the last twenty years.



Christian Corre: World Music: A Virtual Object?

Today, one can begin to gauge the effects of the notion of ‘globalisation’ in the artistic field; but, only one art has at its disposal a term directly adapted to the situation: music, with its category of ‘world music’. Largely ignored by musicologists up to now (due to its ambiguous proximity to commercial music as well as to traditional music), ‘world music’ is, in spite of its extreme popularisation, nevertheless a new concept (in the aesthetic and commercial meanings) that requires its own line of thought. The present article aims at querying through it some hitherto unprecedented forms of involvement between musical and (geo)political fields, between postmodern myths and recent realities (humanitarian, technological). It also hopes to situate here the birth of a new ‘world symbol’ (in the sense of Eugène Fink), to which only the medium of music can give substance.



Eve-Norah Pauset: Folklore All Over the Place

The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted by the thirty-third UNESCO general conference seems to be the result of a long process, during which autochthonous collectives were forced to reconsider intellectual property rights, in particular those relative to traditional knowledge. It is an appropriate moment to reconsider notions of métissage that were too rapidly understood as the interaction between different geopolitical areas or between dominant art and dominating art, and promoted by what is called globalisation. It is also a moment to reconsider the stumbling block of rights concerning the protection of folklore, a difficult, even impossible terrain, caught between the dictates of custom, international, and national laws. We seek to pose the following question: At a time when globalisation is aggravating internet piracy problems, is it conceivable that the web is diluting, deserting, or even helping what autochthonous collectives claim as their unique characteristics from the international community? Is it conceivable that the very same web perpetuates stereotypes, and that the adoption of the expressions ‘cultural diversity’ and ‘economic-cultural symbolism’ are only manifestations thereof?



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