Why do we feel discomfort?

Submitted by Michael Milov on Sunday, 10/10/2010, at 8:01 PM


One needs to listen to only a few seconds of Deep Forest’s “Sweet Lullaby,” in the context of the original lullaby by Afunakwa Reorgwela, to begin to feel uncomfortable. The intimacy on Afunakwa’s untouched voice, the quality that makes the lullaby beautiful and even moving, has been distorted in Deep Forest’s track. He has put a chorus effect on the voice, opening up the once intimate sample into accessible to all of our Western ears. Backing this melody is an open, fluid synth, further emphasizing the openness that Deep Forest wants the listener to feel. Deep Forest has explicitly opened up a pointed, private song into an open one, and implicitly breaking the sacred, private space between mother and child, by allowing the listener in And we feel uncomfortable with this.

Jan Garbarek in “Pygmy Sample” encountered this sample via “Sweet Lullaby.” The saxophone playing the melody cannot be readily identified as being sampled from a Solomon woman’s lullaby, as the “world markers” of Afunakwa’s voice, such as timbre and language, have been excluded. Yet the song feels innately like world music because Garbarek chooses to add into the mix other “world markers” to maintain the “worldliness” of the song, such as the metal shaker playing on two and four and what sounds like tabla holding down the rhythm section. The discomfort here is the contradiction between the westernization of the original lullaby—in being played on a saxaphone—and the addition of other world markers. Afunakwa has been lost, yet Her exoticism has been replaced by the markers mentioned above.

On the other side of this argument are MIA, Diplo, Baile Funke. Unequivocally Becky Done Gun,” has profound similarities to Deize Tigrona in melodic rhythms, contour, and timbre. Played back to back, MIA clearly has strong roots in Baile Funke music. This is manifested most significantly in the sampling of the Rocky melody in both songs. In “Becky Done Gun,” it sounds as if MIA is sampling the Rocky theme from Deize Tigrona, whom it sounds like recorded the sample on low-tech, accessible equipment. Contrary to the first example, this example elicits little to no discomfort.

In both of these examples, well-known artists are sampling exotic music. Yet we feel uncomfortable with one and not the other. I think this has to do with the history of colonialism we associate with sampling. When a Western artist, such as Deep Forest, takes an indigenous form of music and makes it accessible to Western ears, by popularizing it and by limiting its exoticness, we feel discomfort and sympathy for Afunakwa. This discomfort is founded in guilt. This guilt stems from an association of this form of sampling with connotations of 18th through 20th century colonialism. (In example: The small pox epidemic upon Native Americans). The lack of uneasiness with the MIA and Deize Tigrona example further emphasizes this idea as the world pop star MIA—not a white, Western name—has sampled an “indegnous”—at least in some ways, form of music.

Global ghettotech seems a more accurate representation of World Music, mainly because World Music, and all the associations that come with it, is an almost obsolete term at this point. It is a term that was constructed by Westerners to pool music into a single paradigm that did not fit within existing ones, while simultaneously trying to legitimize such a paradigm as a real category of music. We ourselves have created the “global makers” that categorize world music as world music (In example: A didgeridoo is always associated with world music). Global ghettotech represents and is a manifestation of what is actually occurring within the world. It’s “organic” world music, not a category that has been forced. Everybody has accessibility to technology, albeit there is some disparity between the quality of technology, and musical ideas of the whole world. Hybrids are popping up all over the place, especially in urban environments where the demand for dance music is particularly stressed. The category, and type of music put into the category, is naturally happening with Western hands-off.


Lost in Translation: The Existential Confusion of "World Music"

Submitted by Adam E. Gerchick on Sunday, 10/10/2010, at 7:57 PM

National Geographic undoubtedly took pride in the cosmopolitan creation of their World Music website, and probably equally comfortable offering M.I.A.’s “Boyz” as October 10, 2010’s Song of the Day.  The song’s accompanying music video, provided under the specific genre “Global Pop,” intentionally mimics the now-seemingly-amateurish style of the early 1980s.  Young blacks and the occasional monotone cartoon silhouette dancing excitedly to a frenetically variable and mostly-illustrated background while simple, colorful designs rapidly appear and disappear from the screen and a dancing Jamaican flag makes a passing appearance.   The music itself seems unrelated to the African diaspora implied by the video.  Rather, it is classic M.I.A., a rapid-paced and highly synthesized pop production with a constant underlying refrain sung with stylized Indian accent. 


On it’s face, the song sounds “worldly” enough: non-European culture portrayed both in image and song, with a marriage of Indian and Afro-Caribbean traditions.  Yet, while M.I.A. likely perceived her song as artistically and geopolitically high-minded, “Boyz” reflects many of the fundamental misunderstandings and faults of both the concept and content of the “World Music” genre.

  “Boyz” was produced in Brooklyn with recordings from Tamil percussionists and Trinidadian vocalists.  The song was co-produced by M.I.A. and U.K.-based DJ Switch.  Rather than a production of the actual traditional music of the Tamil, M.I.A. selectively appropriated and re-worked it to create a song that ultimately seems like an intentionally kitschy tribute to old-school Caribbean reggae and rap.  Forgotten is any credit to or distinct showcasing of the music of the Tamil, and equally lacking is any apparent respect for the cultural significance of the Indian, or Caribbean, sounds.  In producing “Boyz,” M.I.A. has confused inclusion for consideration, apparently believing that the mere act of using one culture’s sounds in a song constitutes a tribute to that music.

  The fundamental problem of the World Music genre’s content is its failure to distinguish respect from abuse.  As M.I.A. turns thousands of years of Tamil tradition, laden with historic and spiritual significance, into the base beat for a song entitled, accurately, “Boyz,” much of the genre appropriates the fundamental musical identities of various non-Western and often dominated cultures around the world to be arrogantly processed into what the producers consider a more palatable sound for a wealthy Western audience.  Like amulets sold as jewelry or spiritual herbs exported as spice, the underlying songs and distinct sounds of World Music are simply cheapened in the process of cultural translation.  In its most popular contemporary form, World Music producers mimic the careless mixing of distinct colors of paint on a canvass: instead of achieving the desired rainbow effect, their product is a muddled brown. 

  The 1992 song “Sweet Lullaby,” a total remix of a simple Rorogwela lullaby from the Solomon Islands, the underlying melody replete with intimate lyrics about the protection of the child.  The remix seems intended for an ethereal club atmosphere, like a Portland Starbucks or a Dutch coffee shop.  Featuring computer-generated sounds vaguely reminiscent of Incan flute music overlaid upon an organ and drum set, a slow, melodically variable song becomes standardized and repackaged, fully gutted of any deeper significance than a song to space-out too.  Compared to it, the song “Pygmy Lullaby,” a vocal-less jazz rendition of the original lullaby, demonstrates a high degree of cultural respect and dignity: rather than appropriate the lyrics themselves without regard for their cultural sacredness, the song’s producers choose only to take the smooth melody for their use.  The exclusion of the lyrics has an entirely different effect: rather than devaluing the Rorogwela song, “Pygmy Lullaby’s” producers instead create an evolved joint product of Solomonian and American descent: an Oceanic sound through Western instruments.  The original song remains preserved with its dignity intact and the American producers make equitable use of each cultural influence.

  That practice of creating music inspired by, but not directly remixed from, multiple cultural sources provides a potential opportunity for the genre of World Music to legitimize itself.  To truly constitute the product of global influence, World Music must be a new form of sound.  Rather than a gross compilation of various traditional musics, like the stitched-together limbs of multiple bodies, World Music must descent from those traditions, using multiple cultural influences in relatively equal proportion, fully and seamlessly integrating those sounds, and, most importantly, not trying to showcase or represent any pre-existing culturally or geographically specific form of music. 

 The New Age music of Enya provides a rough prototype for the kind of sound that could fit the genre.  Rather than representing an specific pre-existing form of music, her sound fits an entirely new category.  While achieving the ethereal effect often desired from World Music producers, hers lacks the insulting appropriation of culture-specific song common among those calling themselves World Musicians.

Until the World Music genre is willing to embrace its place as a descendant, rather than remix, of both certain Western and most non-Western cultural products, it will exist in a state of confusion, either attempting to represent multiple cultures at once or, as in the case of David’s “Hatikvah,” in which the artist performs a traditional rendition of the Israeli national anthem and labels it under the genre “World,” ironically portraying the most nation-specific non-Euramerican music as some sort of global or transnational sound. 

The Clash of World Music

Submitted by Adam D. Ketchum on Sunday, 10/10/2010, at 6:48 PM

            We are all familiar with the concept of “world music”.  This pseudo-genre is the amalgamation of different musical traditions from all over the world.   The problem is that is isn’t a natural classification of music, but instead a pointless label that serves as nothing but in instrument of simplification for people can’t be bothered to investigate the true origins of the various sonic elements present in “world music”. 

For example, suppose one were to listen to the song “Sweet Lullaby” by Deep Forest, one would hear this “pat me on the back I’m so globally cosmopolitan” sound that is completely removed from the original context it was drawn from.  In the case of “Sweet Lullaby” the inspiration comes from a recording of a mother named Afunakwa singing an actual lullaby to her baby.  This original recording is pleasing because it is tender, raw and sweet.  It is in short, it is filled with real humanity.  The DeepForest song on the other hand, sounds cheap (which isn’t to say it is under-produced, quite the opposite, the cheapness is a result of a lack of artistic integrity) and generic.  It sounds like it was made to be sold, not as an expression of artistry.  Worse yet, they offer no acknowledgement to their original inspiration.  This feels troublesome, and it should.  DeepForest capitalizes on the work of Afunakwa.  At best she receives some appreciation from those investigative enough to dig into the origins.

This is an example of a blatantly obvious degeneration of original sounds.  I is an instance of taking something real and turning it into a dry, formulamatic, commercialization of its former self.  A good example of a gray area in the dissemination of music across the world would be comparing the song “Paper Planes” by eclectic musician M.I.A. (a.k.a. Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam) and one of its sonic sources, The Clash’s “Straight to Hell”.

What distinguishes DeepForest’s appropriation of Afunakwa’s lullaby from M.I.A.’s sampling of The Clash?  To begin with, there is a difference in socioeconomic standing that is present in relationship between DeepForest and Afunakwa (which was described above) that is not present in the relationship between M.I.A. and The Clash.  Both M.I.A. and The Clash are successful recording industry insiders.  Furthermore, they have political ideologies that would be sympathetic to each other.  M.I.A. was involved in the liberation of the Tamil minority on Sri Lanka, and The Clash was a leftist punk band that was high critical of establishment political power structures.

What is more to the point though, is the fact that The Clash themselves are proprietors of “world music” themselves.  How can one degrade the sound of The Clash through appropriation if their very own sound was appropriated from various sources as well (the obvious example would be reggae and ska music).  The answer is that one cannot.  M.I.A.’s use of the opening rift in The Clash song is no more wrong than The Clashes own use of Jamaican music.

What this boils down to is who is using what and why?  In the case of M.I.A. and The Clash, the who are two sets of people from similar socioeconomic standing with similar access to resources.  The what, is the use of particular segments of music, which the “original” appropriated anyway.  The why is to draw attention to their subscribed political ideology.  There is a lot of overlap in all three of these questions, and thus we don’t feel any sort of discomfort in the idea of the appropriation.  It seems proper.

Conversely, in the case of DeepForest, and Afunakwa, you have people coming from vastly different backgrounds, with different motivations.  DeepForest appropriates the traditional lullaby for its own purposes, and in doing so strip it of its humanity.  Despite the similarities in the what (which are the lyrics and general harmony of the lullaby), nothing else over laps.  Even the original rawness of Afunakwa’s traditional rendition has been lost in the high production values of the new-aged schlock DeepForest is hawking at us.

Ghetto is more worldly

Submitted by Katharine J. Planson on Sunday, 10/10/2010, at 6:25 PM

            Throughout this week, a recurring theme has been artists borrowing musical components from other artists and songs.  We listened to the Afunaka lullaby that was then used to inspire the Deep Forest “Sweet Lullaby” and we saw the lullaby again in Jan Garbarek’s “Pygmy Lullaby”.  We heard how the sound changed between the three songs.  In the original lullaby there was the feeling that we as the listeners were the baby, the mothers’ voice was pure, pentatonic, and original.  In “Sweet Lullaby” we heard a broad and somewhat contrived sound, like the “World Music” played in Starbucks that Bailey describes.  The “Pygmy Lullaby” was a mediation of a mediation, “Sweet Lullaby” being the first mediation based on the original lullaby.  The woman’s voice was replaced by a smooth saxophone and there were sounds of a hand drum and a metal shaker that are intended to signify ethnicity and thus making it more appealing to the Starbucks music buying crowd.  Deep Forest used a beautiful culture based lullaby and took it to white musicians recording studios and created a song that falls under the category of “World Music”.  Brennan writes, “world music characterizes a longing in metropolitan centers of Europe and North America for what is not European or North American: a general, usually positive, interest in the cultural life of other parts of the world.” (45-46)  Although this interest comes from a good place, the Western music industry creates these contrived and unrealistic songs that are based off of something cultural because they think it is what Americans want to hear in order to feel more worldly.  

            I think Global Ghettotech is an uncontrived and more pure form of “World Music”. Although it isn’t incredibly innovative music, it has more authenticity than the “World Music”.  Global Ghettotech is based around music sampling.  This is really amazing because if this sampling were occuring in the U.S. there would likely be vicious copyright battles.  This music comes from the slums of third world countries where ideas about copyright are very different.  Global Gettotech is categorized by the underlining bass rhythm/ urban dance beat, the 1,2,3,1,2,1,2,3 loop.   It is made from free music making software and frequently samples the sounds “of helicopters and automatic weapon fire” (Bailey pg 2) (sounds that illustrate the crime that often surrounds this music).  The fundamental significance is that “World Music” is ethnic sounding music made by rich white recording companies that are seeking money.  Global Gettotech represents the lowering of the digital divide.  There are free music making programs that make it possible for the poor people from the slums to be creative.  They have created a type of music that is a life like representation of the lives they live and the places in which they reside.   The poor people are able to show their music to the world without having rich America recording studios alter the music. 

The reason behind "world" music

Submitted by Shyloe Katherine Musu Jones on Sunday, 10/10/2010, at 6:14 PM

Bailey’s article defines global ghettotech as an embodiment of the dsytopia present in mega-cities throughout the globe, a mode by which hardcore and criminal groups gain exposure. World music’s origins lie, however, in the need for classification of all sounds ‘non-Western’ or ‘ethnic’ to a particular culture or geographic location. Artists such as Paul Simon or Deep Forest have further used the world music genre to perpetuate an image of inclusiveness, sophistication, and the superficial breaking of cultural barriers such as class and race. The true differences between these two genres of music are both ideological and creative, for while they exist to transmit ideas across countries, continents and cultures, they do so in wildly variant way.

Ironically, world music, while meant to be essentially a ‘miscellaneous’ category that any music outside of the typical British and American genres fell in, in practice is quite exclusive. Brennan discusses how instead of embodying the new world order, in which nation boundary lines are blurred and cultures can be shared at the click of a button, the term ‘world music’ creates a disconnect in which music is either familiar and able to be classified as reggae, pop, etc. or part of this “other” category full of other music created by artists fundamentally different than the accepted norms. Ghettotech, however, is predominately underground and finds itself in the mainstream in brief flashes such as within artist like M.I.A. and Diplo. World music prides itself on being the voice of globalization and citizens all over the world, while ghettotech tends to be the true universal voice of the poverty stricken lower classes. When I say universal, I do not mean in sound; rather I mean ghettotech, for the most part functions more effectively than world music in giving the listener an unfiltered, raw glimpse into the lives and livelihoods of these foreign cites such as the gutters of Sao Paulo, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere.

Pangea’s “Citizens of the World”, too, sounds one-dimensional, a manufactured attempt at creating a song boasting global cooperation and peace.  This is an example of world music as a superficial marketing tool by which wealthy benefactors can create a universally appealing sound designed to climb music charts and generate huge profits without ever having a concrete message or idea behind it.

That Rich Man Loves World Music

Submitted by Jenna Iden on Sunday, 10/10/2010, at 4:25 PM

I want to focus on a quote from the WYNC podcast. Commenting on world music after discussing an example of a highly produced, travel-intensive global band, the radio host remarked, “Well, at least one really rich guy is still interested in it.” Money (and perhaps a broadened sense of white, developed world guilt) created world music, be it whirled or otherwise. It certainly has dictated my personal reactions to world music and global sampling. If the sampled music is aimed at a financed audience, I’d rather a financed source be exploited.

Looking at M.I.A.’s work, she clearly samples and models some of her songs after other popular music. She takes what’s on the brink of popular and adds her own stamp, much like any ad executive sampling what’s “hot” to sell product: a well known song from another culture, or a lesser known song from a commercially successful band. Yet I’m not offended by her sampling/modeling. First, she obtained legal permissions for her sampling (“Arular” was delayed because it waited for permissions). Secondly, the exploited sources were each popular in their own right.

Deize Tigrona’s "Injeção" is remarkably infectious (pun not intended). The cheap, ghettotech elements of percussion and rough mastering don’t distract from the bass drum groove of 3-3-2. Her sampling of the Rocky trumpets is claim of empowerment; this very Western picture of pop culture fits the 3-3-2 meter of gritty Baile Funk.  The song screams against female subjugation, making it a clear and catchy (pun still not intended) model for M.I.A.’s satirical “Bucky Done Gun.”

The two women’s songs are clear twins: whiney vocal style, thumping bass drum, and the ever-inspiring Rocky track.  M.I.A.’s cleaner, English language protest song certainly doesn’t dazzle in originality (see above discussion of the nearly exact same song in Portuguese), but it doesn’t commit the same cultural crimes that Deep Forest does on the Rorogwela lullaby example. 

In the Rorogwela lullaby example, an original field recording is tampered with. It’s pulled out of context, out of the realm of intention. What does Afunakwa think of her twisted vocals? Probably nothing, because she doesn’t know. Therein lies the problem. Deep Forest (for the sake of this discussion, I’ll limit it to those who sampled Afunakwa’s vocals) was inspired by a melody, not a style. Afunakwa’s breathy, intimate performance is lost for Deep Forest to impose their Western standards of a quality vocal track. M.I.A. stole stylistic elements from Tigrona; she did not take melodies and she kept them within the semblance of their original context. The Rorogwela lyrics are kept, but, at the same time, lost to English audiences. M.I.A. takes the feminist feist of Tigrona’s track, and modifies the music elements to suit a Western audience. Deep Forest changes the entire purpose of the intimate lullaby, imposing Western ideals through the weapon of money and the markets that provide it. And the rich man still interested in world music keeps creating more Deep Forest, while I’d rather the world be overrun with M.I.A.s.

Separate Spaces - Same Universe

Submitted by Rohan Mazumdar on Sunday, 10/10/2010, at 4:17 PM

The question of defining World Music, and dealing with its cultural, social and economic associations, seems inseparable from defining today’s World itself. Just as the dust has yet to settle from the advent of the Internet, World Music has yet to establish its ultimate purpose and intent. While the movement towards incorporating sounds from around the world is gathering momentum, it is still considerably in the hands of the artist or record label to define what World Music means to them, and to their intended audience.

There is, however, a very distinct sonic thread that connects all attempts at world music creation, and that is the apparent ‘electronic infusion’ into all the forms of World music we have listened to thus far. John Schaefer pointed out the clear DJ-driven, hip-hop based culture behind much of the music we have heard. Yet, even outside of the dance/electronica formats, one can sense that the musical arrangements reflect an idea of ‘here we are in the 21st century’. That M.I.A., Deep Forest, Jan Pehk and Diplo build directly off of the techniques introduced by changing techonologies is obvious, however, some of the other artists have, in their own ways, retained the technological strands associated with World Music. Jan Garbarek’s use of simulated orchestra synthesizer patches, and clear reverb reminds the listener that the ‘Pygmy’ lullaby, regardless of its origins, is only a musical idea that has subsequently been brought into the modern world.

The case of Vagilased, Veljo Tormis, and the global classical orchestras of Brennan’s thinking, although important for our understanding of the spread of music globally, are not what I would consider “World Music”. Perhaps that is rather convenient in avoiding the question at hand, but to group the auditory and cultural experiences evoked by them with what I consider World Music would leave no space to examine the effects that each have on world society. I would say that World Music, Ghettotech and “nu whirled” music are essentially synonyms, all forming the soundtrack to an all-world dance party. From an analysis standpoint, Vagilased are more likely to be found on a modern-cool jazz playlist than in the World Music section of the music store. Similarly, Tormis’ work is more Western Choral arrangement, using Livonian folk music as his creative spark, than an attempt at creating the kind of cross-continent political statement that M.I.A. wishes to make.

Where all the given music forms do converge, though, is on the understanding that we live in a world greater than our immediate social environs. The complex permutations of cultural and economic background, access and exposure, influence the various artists and what they bring to the world around them. I would therefore say that when it comes to  ‘Global’ music, as opposed to “World Music”, the issue as to where it stands musically becomes not of picking the ‘true’ global sound, but the creation of a sonic space which multiple musical ideas (in this case, indigenous to different parts of the world) inhabit.

World Music?

Submitted by Jasmine A. Slater on Sunday, 10/10/2010, at 3:16 PM

As I proceeded to do some of my own research of America’s view of world music, I discovered some interesting things. On YouTube, under the World Music genre button, the first song that appeared was the remake of We are the World. Empire State of Mind was 4th on the list and an interview with Justin Beiber was 10th.  Wikipedia said that an example of World Music would include a song that is Non- European classical music. After World Music was typed into the iTunes search button, 20 Irish drinking songs appeared on my page. On http://www.allcharts.org/, Bruno Mars’s “Just the Way You Are”, appeared as the world’s number one hit. I then proceeded to NPR’s world music selection. This included works by Andy Palacio and the Garufina Collective, Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba and Bembya Jazz National.  We discussed in class the misuse of the term, “World Music.” Do listeners truly understand the concept of the genre, "World Music?" How can listeners understand the term, when websites such as YouTube and iTunes are representing" World Music" with the same artists that are on the pop charts? I began to ponder on how these websites are classifying these artists into “World Music.” Alicia Keys did sing Empire State of Mind at the World Cup in South Africa. Bruno Mars did co-write “Wavin Flag” which was also sung at the World Cup in South Africa. It begins to appear that there is little criteria for placement onto the World Music list. Although, it is difficult to argue which artist should placed into the World Music category when the actual term is at fault.

                Deep Forest’s, Sweet Lullaby sounds more exposed than Jan Garberek’s Pygmy Lullaby. Taking the chorus from a mother’s lullaby in Africa, the song is partially raw. The melody had little editing. The song’s overall sound is heard as open and airy. Jan Garberek’s Pygmy Lullaby fully transformed the mother’s lullaby. Using a saxophone as the melody created a heavier sound.

                I find more differences between “World Music” and “global ghettotech” than similarities. Listening to what currently classifies as “World Music”, the genre’s overall sound quality is better.  In Paul Simon’s, You Can Call Me Al, live sounds of the pennywhistle and other instruments are used.  This song can also be performed live. Global Ghettotech cannot be performed with a live band because of its use and mixing of computerized sounds.

World Music: All I Wanna Do Is Take Ya Money

Submitted by Phoebe Smolin on Sunday, 10/10/2010, at 2:58 PM

The growing connection amongst disparate and seemingly far-away places in the world is beset with multitudes of ironies. Our ever-changing sonic environment is a perfect example of how our world is both shrinking and expanding in the most unusual and sometimes contradictory ways. The comparison between World Music and nu whirled music/global ghettotech is an interesting one—the differences can be traced from the ideological to the sonic. Both phenomena package the periphery in a way that is accessible for a global audience, both integrate elements from disparate cultures into an interesting and attractive hybrid, and both are sonically redefining distances that were once perceived as impossible to travel.

            The differences between World Music and World Music 2.0 are, to me, just as plentiful as the similarities. The Deep Forest reproduction and manipulation of a lullaby from the Solomon Islands is and example of the old World Music—it takes a traditional, simple song that was sung for the pure reason of lulling a baby to sleep and morphs it into ambient Starbucks background music that you can tap your foot to while you’re in line for coffee. It adds elements of other traditions in it and layers it with drumbeats and chimes and other digital sounds. It essentially strips it of its meaning and turns it into something that is merely a sound. Both the Deep Forest and the Jaan Garbarek rendition of the Afunakwa lullaby illuminate one of the main differences between the old and new World Music phenomena: the necessity for a mediator. Both Deep Forest and Garbarek are connected to the international music market (just like Paul Simon with Graceland) and can therefore express power over this music and spread it as rapidly as they please. The role of the market is huge. In the WNYC podcast, large record labels were described as the “musical Colours of Benetton,” a global clothing store that markets the same thing all over the world. Here, you can see Deep Forest’s video for their rendition of the lullaby, with images portraying a world far from the western one. The end of the video also includes a snippet of the original lullaby, which shows the distinct sonic difference between the two: the original is soft and simply, the manipulation is multi-layered, loud, and meditative.

To contrast the old World Music to the new, there is the infamous example of MIA—a consciously global musical star. MIA is the face of the core difference between World Music and nu whirled music/ global ghettotech. Instead of drawing its musical influences from pop, it’s influenced by hip-hop. Because technology has become so accessible, even in the most peripheral places on the planet, people have begun to use cheap beat-mixers and loops to make music that matches whatever is popular in the world—even the domestic has become global this way, as there is no longer a need for a mediator. MIA as a voice for this, using rebellious songs and depictions of the periphery to spread a message to the world. In a sense, MIA is the embodiment of the irony of global ghettotech—it illuminates the inequality in the world and still turns it into a dance-club commodity. The MIA-style of world music 2.0 is sonically much louder and over powering, emphasizing computer generated sounds. MIA, by becoming this global phenomenon, has, in some sense, lost her true involvement in the reality that she’s representing. Once cannot be a global icon and still be considered marginal. 

One of the main differences of World Music and world music 2.0 is the way that it markets its sound. The World Music of the Paul Simon type sees the need to make the music of the third world accessible for western audiences, thus “fixing” the sound so that it’s clear and not too “foreign” sounding. World music 2.0, on the other hand, does not portray the third world as something that needs to be fixed, rather, it emphasizes the so-called “authenticity” of the music as well as it can. In the WNYC podcast, this is described as “half-cooked” music versus “overcooked world music. The Global South is now something with authority and agency, they can produce their own sounds and integrate them into the global flow of music.

            As virtuous as that might sound, there is a clear downside to it. Though it is a great thing for everyone to have a way to market their music, it all ties into the domination of the capitalist market. One example of this would be an artist from Malawi named Esau Esau Mwamwaya. Instead of establishing a position at home, he immediately went to the United Kingdom to make Malawian music so that he would have a better chance in the global scheme. In this article, it is described that the people of Malawi, ironically, found it very difficult to catch onto his music because it wasn’t the sound that they were used to, though the rest of the world developed an ear for it thinking that it was “authentic.” Here is Mwamwaya’s rendition of a song that we all know very well, with a Malawian twist to it.

The sonic differences between new World Music and old World Music are great, however, both seek to establish a position in the global market, thus showing the market’s power over music, itself. The global market is the main contributor to the displacement of local sounds that happens through the dissemination of world music and the hybrids that grow out of it. Esau Mwamwaya is one example of how place is a changing concept in the world of music. The influence of the market can also be seen in Reggaeton, a successor of Caribbean hip-hop. Reggaeton is influenced by the popular hip-hop of North America, which as themes that are generally degrading to women and ignorant of current events. In Cuba, specifically, hip-hop Cubano is known for being extremely socially conscious and includes themes such as anti-racism and equality. Reggaeton, however, seems to ignore all of that, but it is made because it is what the world likes hearing.

            Change is always good. The change from the old World Music phenomenon to global ghettotech and nu whirled music shows the power of accessible technology—music can be made and distributed nearly anywhere. Something that hasn’t changed, however, is the domination of the market and how it influences sound. Though the sound may be different, the music market still has control over what is spread and what stays marginalized. New World Music is, therefore, a huge irony: it both illuminates the third world and its new agency and keeps it in its peripheral global position. World music, both new and old, brings the western world closer to the sounds of the global South... but never too close.

"Brazil, Quiet down I need to make sound"

Submitted by Taylor L. Heacock on Sunday, 10/10/2010, at 2:35 PM

The trend of Nu Whirled Music is similar to the emergence of postmodern art. The idea behind postmodern works being that being original does not have to mean creating something completely new, but rather a way to be original is to make changes to preexisting material. In visual art for example the Leonardo daVinci’s Mona Lisa is constantly being recreated.

Similarly in music, samples are always used and reused as artists, DJs, and producers remix and innovate music and sound to create a something “new”.  An interesting example of this cross cultural exchange of sounds is Sean Kingston’s Me Love and Led Zeppelin’s D’yer Maker. The song D’yer Maker borrows Jamaican Reggae sound and years later Jamaican artist Sean Kingston samples and reinvents the song  and titles it “Me Love.” The lyrics, beat, and overall sound are extremely similar to the Led Zeppelin version and Kingston does give credit to the 70s rock band.



Marketing, purpose, and method of travel are the biggest difference between “World Music” and Global Ghettotech. World Music is as Brennan puts it, “[is] not a specific form of music (symphonic, choral, written, improvised, rural, or ritual) but a place of music the music of everywhere else”, where here the commercialization of the exotic is the goal behind the music to give the people an experience of non-western sound. The Deep Forest track “Sweet Lullaby essentially uses Afunakwa’s voice and language as signifier of the song’s non-western sound. The meaning behind what she says is erased by the electronic western sound and studio. The song loses its true purpose as a personal and intimate lullaby for her infant and becomes food for those hungry for non-western culture.  In this process exploitation and the concept of a musical imperialism come into play as Western musical gatekeepers choose what is to be represented as exotic or worldly sounding in such a way that profits them and leaves little to nothing for people from which the music came. Afunakwa is not credited and the average Deep Forest listener  is hoodwinked into thinking this is an authentic African sound. As Firth expresses, the “authenticity” of sound is a crucial construct for the sale of “World Music” as it relates to the responsiveness to the non-western sound.


Global Ghettotech is unlike “World Music” in that it does not focus on appealing to global audiences or appealing to western tastes. This music is about local lifestyles, and getting people from these local areas to dance and enjoy their music. Brazil’s Baile Funk for example is a key part of urban party life. The music easily relates to the people because the music does not need high tech western studios to produce it, the local musicians and DJs can create their own music. This in itself provides enough of a divide between World Music and Nu Whirled Music, but further separating the two is the expedience of sharing across cultures created by the combination of low tech production and the easy to access sound stage of the internet. For example, the ZaZa twins (Schaefer podcast) can make a song upload it and the same day it could be discovered in the US. This the level of “Unmediated” music John Schaefer discusses in his Nu Whirled Music podcast. The speed and universal availability is the root of the new “Whirled” music fundamentally separates it from World Music because it allows for music to travel across continents with almost no commercial mediation.

While the differences between World Music and Nu World music are clear, it is not quite as easy to distinguish between popular artists who draw from Global Ghetto or those that try to create World Music from Take for in ethnic sounding tance Deep Forest and MIA. Sonically M.I.A.’s “Bucky Done Gun” sounds more like western hip hop and  electronic. One must listen closely to pick up on the nuanced global sound, which is the Nu Whirled Music known as Baile Funk. Opposite of M.I.A. is Deep Forest’s “Sweet Lullaby” where the sound of Afunakwa’s voice and the earthy sound are pronounced in such a way that labels it as worldly. While M.I.A. does borrow heavily from MC Deize's Injeção for "Bucky Done Gun", she does, like Kingston , give the Brazilian artist a shout out at the beginning of her song and in the album booklet, and like other popular artists today, she is upfront about the fact that she samples. At a time when so much of what we hear is an reinvention of something that has already been heard, the most important thing is that artists such as M.I.A.  give credit where it is due and not try to pass their work off as something that it is not, but of course not all artists do so it is increasingly important that listeners are conscious of what they are listening to and where it came from. 

I don't want no Reeboks

Submitted by Ashley Hogan on Sunday, 10/10/2010, at 12:52 PM

As we move further into the realm of “nu whirled” music or “global ghettotech,” the way non-Western music is made and disseminated seems to be increasingly egalitarian. I think we’re moving away from the once popular act of repurposing “world music” to fit into a sonically Western sensibility (though, undoubtedly, it's still present). With Deep Forest’s “Sweet Lullaby,” we see a blatant disregard for the integrity of the original source material and a repurposing of the Rorogwela lullaby for a trite Western style of techno music. The largest departure from the original is the shift in tone; the original lullaby is deeply intimate while the remix feels distant and polished in its clean snap-back beats and pseudo-ethereal vibe. This song is more fit to sell Reeboks than lull a child to sleep.

Artists like M.I.A. and Diplo are great examples of the revolution music has undergone in the past five years with DJ and remix culture. In terms of making music, I think the biggest change is that instead of bastardizing the original material and having a Western audience in mind, artists are now focusing on being local, but with a global sensibility. A “reverse anthropology” is happening, where the dominant culture (Americans/Western audience) is being marginalized and forced to step outside of their reality to see the richness of local music and culture from around the world. In M.I.A.’s “Galang,” there is a mixture of early American hip-hop aesthetics (her clothes, assertive body language, confident attitude) and sonically non-Western influences (the wobbly vocal intonation and the constant shaking back beat mixed with the thumping bass is reminiscent of popular Middle Eastern music such as that of Bollywood).

Similarly, Diplo’s Favela on Blast mixtapes stay true to the original Baile Funk; sonically, the material hasn’t been cut up to the point where it’s unrecognizable- the brash and sexual vibe of the music is still there, Diplo has simply intervened and added a different beat backbone, creating music that’s neither distinctly Brazilian nor American. Diplo is also a great example of how this “nu whirled” music travels; thanks to the hyperconnectivity technology has produced, music is no longer geographically bound. There’s been a huge fragmenting of the music industry, making it impossible to make globally-appealing, ubiquitous songs (such as “Colors of Pangea”). This fragmentation takes power away from music conglomerates and record companies and allows people the radical opportunity to “fine tune their own reality” in terms of what music they listen to. This is a new phenomenon that “world music” didn’t offer us, as it aimed to incorporate snippets of non-Western music into the globally-marketed pop and rock of the Western world.

I think a current instance of this “nu whirled music” is Die Antwoord, a South African hip-hop group. Similar to M.I.A., they are unapologetically using local sonic and aesthetic influences. They force listeners to stretch their reality to meet theirs’ (using Afrikaans slang, highlighting the work of a South African artist and rapping about South African culture), instead of the other way around. This equips us with a genuinely wider scope of the world, rather than a Western-manipulated lens.

A Circulation of Stereotypes

Submitted by Kaitlin R. Silkowitz on Sunday, 10/10/2010, at 12:50 PM

Professor Engelhardt’s “food court analogy” allows us to understand just how perfectly and strategically world music is laid out for us to consume with maximal ease.  I, too am a victim of listening to songs and having no clue as to what the names of the different styles are; where they originated from, or anything about how significant they are in other locales.  It is almost embarrassing how completely unaware I was that one of my favorite songs, M.I.A’s “Paper Planes,” uses the rhythm from “Straight to Hell” by The Clash to form the backbone of the song.

There is something unsettling about the sound and overall concept of world music.  The “Rorogwela lullaby” sung by Afunakwa is filled with soothing, calming syllables in which the simplicity of the song is the very thing that makes it so beautiful.  We hear the intimate physical sounds (the rustling of Afunakwa’s voice and breathing) exactly the same way the baby she is singing to would.  While the fact that the song is so simple and not technologically advanced lends to its intimacy, it is also what makes it so easy to manipulate.  Deep Forest’s use of Afunakwa’s “Rorogwela lullaby” in its version of “Sweet Lullaby” gives the original song a completely different meaning.  The extremely beautiful and personal tone of Afunakwa’s voice is lost as the extra sounds Deep Forest surrounds it with moves it to a different place.  In Deep Forest’s version, Afunakwa’s voice is multiplied, and the track progresses from her as an individual, to her as this generic part of this broader global chorus.  Though the drum loop is arguably repetitive, and the original sound was manipulated and stripped of its authentic quality, the music that Deep Forest creates is super popular.  But why? … It sold really well simply because it is Deep Forest savvy.

Feld makes a point of this sort of culturalist idea: What counts as a piece of music?  Afunakwa’s lullaby is hard to fit into our idea of conventional, globalized, western intellectual property regimes.  Would Afunakwa even understand what a remix of her lullaby would be - what would it mean?  It is an all too familiar story: White musicians from the global North with access to large corporations and technologies appropriating music from the global South that are not at all mediated, and where ideas about control, circulation and ownership are all very different.

Hip/hop is indeed the new quintessential world music.  The free, easily downloadable, open source kind of technology enabled the “Global Ghettotech” movement.  It completely inverts the dynamics of creation and distribution that we see in works produced by Paul Simon or Deep Forest.  Sampling makes its first appearance as a subaltern musical resource for music makers that do not have enough access to high-tech technology or money to pay for studio time.  Opening up ideological horizons, global ghettotech erases the power of the person with necessities by continually lowering the digital divide.  The musicians themselves are the curators. 

M.I.A’s track “Bucky Done Gun” is deeply rooted in Baile Funk.  She creates this global ghettotech in the lyrics of the song, calling out to different areas (London, New York, Kingston, and Brazil).  Her vocal style consciously mimics the nasally vocal aesthetic of Daisy to whom she draws the inspiration from for this song.  In an interview with M.I.A, she was asked "what the hell does “Bucky Done Gun” mean?":

“I really don’t know.  At the time, the concept that I was thinking of was how far we are going to go with gangster culture in rap music.  That’s really what I was thinking about.  I was thinking about 50 Cent.  It started off as Public Enemy and ended with 50 Cent. What was that journey (for rap music) and how did that happen?”

World music is, in fact, a journey.  M.I.A recognizes the progression of music as it is constantly heard and then re-heard, mediated and re-mediated.  More than just a progression of sounds, it is a progression of culture.  Ghettotech is a tradition in which people like M.I.A can also participate.  The lack of a substantive digital divide allows us as critical listeners to accept her playing off of Baile Funk.  However, it is much harder for us to accept Deep Forest’s sampling off of Afunakwa’s lullaby.  Thus, despite the compelling music we as westerners seem to like, there is a lot to think through in terms of origin and ethics.

"Bucky Done Gun" Live

M.I.A vs Deep Forest

Submitted by Joseph W. Higgs on Saturday, 10/9/2010, at 7:51 PM

Sonically, the Deep Forest and M.I.A tracks are night and day. Deep Forest's “Sweet Lullaby” is ambient and soothing, while M.I.A's “Bucky Done Gun” is has a start-stop, electric dance feel.  Creatively, both songs are derivative, but in different ways. They both feature sampled music and try to invoke a certain kind of music (African for Deep Forest, and Baile Funk for M.I.A). The vocals in “Lullaby” are sampled from a woman named Afunakwa, but the rest of the music and accompaniment is original. M.I.A samples the trumpets from the iconic Rocky from the iconic soundtrack, yet BDG closely follows the structure and feel of Deize Tigrona's "Injeção." M.I.A even took the same trumpet sample.

Given this, the songs come from different places ideologically. Deep Forest, takes the very raw sample of Afunakwa and manipulated it to cater to a Western taste under the premise of the song being “world music.” “Lullaby” distorts of the idea of cultural music because it's being advertised as music as such, when it really it's just employing ambiguous "non-Western" music signifiers music.


The music video demonstrates what I'm talking about. All of the African imagery tries to sell you on it's authenticity. Not just the fact that it's showing Africa, but the video is showing tribal Africa, when the song was made in a modern Western Studio. 

While BDG samples heavily from “Injeção,” it's more authentic in meaning and ideology. BDG criticizes the gun culture in rap music and specifically in London, New York, Kingston, and Brazil. Brazil is most significant because the baile funk music (of which “Injeção” is a quintessential example) is heavily tied into organized crime and gun culture. While it would be easy to say that M.I.A ripped-off “Injeção,” she actually intelligently took a song that came out of a violent crime culture and turned the song against that violence. Deep Forest, while they had the artistic creativity to turn a sample that would turn off Western ears to something that can be found on MTV is impressive, “Lullaby” exploits the origin of it's sampled track by presenting it as something it's not.

I find that these two examples highlight the differences between “World Music” and “nu whirled music.” “World Music” began at the top of the music industry (the term was invented by music executives), and had it's aesthetics were centered around Western Rock and Folk. NWM is being written and remixed by local artist (The Injeção track being a better representation), but this music is available on a global scale. This music also definitely has more of a hip hop dance feel. Another difference is who the music is for. WM is for people who want to buy "World Music." NWM seems to be more the artists themselves and the meaning the music has for them. The biggest significance to me of this difference is that I won't feel uneasy listening to, (and liking) NWM unlike WM. WM makes me uncomfortable because I (as a consumer and music lover) don't want to participate in something that generalizes what it means to be any part of the world that's not the West.

In addition, NWM seems to be the next step in the democratization of music. It's exciting to know that anywhere someone has access to a computer it's possible to make music that can be remixed or sampled in another part of the world, or even just be famous because of itself. 

The Changes in World Music

Submitted by Nikki M. Takemori on Saturday, 10/9/2010, at 5:58 PM

Music around the world is changing at the speed of lightning. The definition of world music 20 years ago does not match the definition we associate world music with in modern times. How so? Looking back at some samples of “world music,” we can see that global music then was not subtle in their “global-ness.” Take Deep Forest and their track “Sweet Lullaby” for an instance. At first glance you can immediately tell that it is“world” music by the main vocals and the undecipherable syllables. Despite the un-ethnical instruments in the background, “Sweet Lullaby” clearly sounds like music meant to be on the “Music of the World” track list played in any café. Take a much more extreme example, “Pygmy Lullaby” by Jan Garbarek. This track should no doubt earn its spot in the “Music of the World” track list. The saxophone plays the same melody as the vocals in “Sweet Lullaby,” creating a smooth, calm atmosphere. The background instrumentation is what gives “Pygmy Lullaby” its worldliness – the sounds of the drums instantly takes the listeners to Africa. This “drums = Africa” stereotype has been engraved within us for many generations; think Walt Disney’s “Lion King.” Interestingly enough, both “Sweet Lullaby” and “Pygmy Lullaby” find their origins from a Rorogwela lullaby

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by resident Afunakwa. No wonder the two sounded worldly – the inspiration came from an exotic place.

So world music, then, could be described as any music with an exotic voice or instrumentation. The drums can represent Africa, the wood pipes someplace from South America, and string instruments other than the typical violin or cello can be from Asia. Pangea, a super group representing the U.S.A., East and South Asia, Africa and the Arab world, created a worldly track “Citizens of the world” with four different languages incorporated into the piece. There were also cultural instruments adding to the global feeling of the track. Who wouldn’t be able to call this “world music”?

According to Wayne Marshall on WNYC’s Soundcheck, Pangea (and probably Deep Forest and Garbarek as well) are “old school” world music promoters, or “over-cooked” in terms of modern days. They are promoting their pieces as world music, hoping to be recognized for their work in collaborating different styles of music (and possibly to earn the honorable spot on Starbuck’s “Music of the World” track list.) These groups have record deals and professional promoters supporting the release of this worldly music

Then what is “half-cooked” or even “raw” world music? In another sense, what is the world music of today, or the 2.0 version of world music? It’s all about technology. Beats are mainly created by music editing software on computers rather than recording actual instrument sounds, social networks allows for creators to access millions of inspiring sounds within a minute, and the World Wide Web allows for virtually anyone to present their work to the public without a hassle. Now days world music can be identified by their beats; consider Deize Tigrona’s track “Injeção” for a moment. The knee-jerk reaction to this tune would be “that’s an upbeat dance music.” Dig a little deeper and you can hear the distinct bass drum and snare drum pattern of the Baile Funk, the origins found in Brazile’s Rio de Janeiro.  DJ Marbolo’s track “Feira de Acari” has a different yet distinct Baile Funk beat, adding to its “worldliness.” These can be found under the umbrella of “ghettotech / nu whirled music,” or global music that rely heavily on technology rather than exotic voices. These new fields of music also are subtle in their worldliness, not promoting their music as “world music” but as “music” in general. All these “raw” world music could be grouped into the dance or the techno genre rather than the world music.  Add the technology, and now this raw global sound can be created and dispersed with rather ease. Possibly the notion of the quick global spread of new music enhances the meaning of “world music” to a song.              

It is hard to determine what “world music” actually means: for us Americans it can vary from any track with a different language to a track with an unusual instrument, while for people in for example Africa, would music could mean any music with background instrumentation other than drums. In any case the global music phenomenon is changing world music from an exotic, blatantly cultural sound to an electronic, subtle yet distinguishable beat as technology usage increases across the world.


Fun Fact: As I was listening to DJ Marbolo's "Feira de Acari," the beat reminded me of a song I knew in both Japanese in Korean. It turned out that they were both the same song, and the Japanese did a remake of the Korean song. The Korean song clearly sounds different from "Feira de Acari," but it has the same bass and snare drum beat and "dance" feel. However this beat is partially lost when you listen to the Japanese remix. The bass guitar somewhat keeps the baile funk beat, but the impact of the beat is weakened.

Korean version - DJ DOC : "Run to you"

Japanese version - DJ Ozma: Age Age Every Night

From Barbarek to Baile Funk: The New Iteration of World Music

Submitted by Timothy F. Clark on Friday, 10/8/2010, at 2:50 PM


Speaking generally about the "old" version of world music, one conclusion we can make is that, to varying degrees, what made this music of the "world" was  the  fact that sonic ideas from outside the Western world had been used to give a song a more unique, even exotic  feel. But, this usage of foreign matter was not intended as the focus of the music, but as something upon which the piece would be built. In Jan Garbarek's "Pygmy Lullaby," the fact that this isn't a Pygmy song at all, nor that it was song by a mother to her child is not Garbarek's concern. The Polynesian lullaby merely serves as melodic inspiration, an interesting sound upon which Garbarek closely bases his saxophone line and around which the other parts of the piece are constructed. The original song has been abstracted in a sense into something not terribly similar to what it was in Polynesia. The Indian tablas have no relationship historically or culturally to the lullaby either but are placed here to give a more "worldly" aesthetic. Moreover, the melody of this piece is played by Gabarek himself, a known figure in the world music scene, a star whose musical production "Pygmy Lullaby" clearly is.

We get a totally different sound and use of local material with DJ Marlboro's "Feira de Acari." Here, the pounding bass and driving rhythms of Brazilian Baile funk dance music are the focus of the song. The local Brazilian flavor is obvious and not merely included here to give the music a worldly feel. Moreover, the singers here are not universally or globally recognizable musicians. DJ Marlboro is well-known in the world of Baile funk, but his stamp--that this is his music--is not nearly as much of a focus or as important here as in Garbarek's  "Pygmy Lullaby." Finally, the constantly looped rhythms evidence the inexpensive nature of this song's production--how it was crafted on the free, easily accessible and downloadable music software we talked about in class. There was clearly no recording studio here to produce this song or EMI records to disseminate "Feira de Acari" to the rest of the public. It has been manufactured and, moreover, retains the feel of a popping dance party in the slums of San Paulo where it was produced. The sense of place--not of world--is very strong in this song. As Bailey notes in his piece, what makes this global ghettotech music global is not so much anything sonic--though there are undoubtedly elements of that. More important however is the fact that global ghettotech can be seen "as radically reflective of contemporary geopolitics"--that is, “the policy decisions that allow the slum archipelago to expand at such an exponential rate,” the “real, ever-intensifying reciprocity between the first and third worlds”—in other words, the constant and varying interactions between countries like Brazil and their urban poor and first world states, like the United States.  That these songs were very cheaply produced testifies to their identity as music of the lower class, music the urban poor in other parts metropolises of the world might recognize as such. Moreover, it is music which probably speaks at a less explicitly stated level to the struggles and efforts of the poor worldwide to try to live their lives despite their status—in this case, to have fun, for this is, after all dance music produced in a Brazilian slum, a message with which anyone from San Paulo to Taipei could identify.

One other change with global ghettotech is the absence of large names or big recording studios. It appears that even larger trends of "nu whirled music" are now bypassing the establishment of the music industry and choosing to be published not by EMI but by Facebook or MySpace, as the WNYC broadcast relates. There is now less "mediation," as one of the commentators of the program terms it, between these smaller, less well-known musician(s) and a larger force, such a big star like Paul Simon or a large recording label.

The significance of all of these points is that the world of music is now changing to become less centralized, less rooted on traditional means of dissemination, and, of course, more and more online. Newer cheaper forms of musical creation are also being employed more frequently, as the very low-budget production of "Feira de Acari" illustrates. The lower classes are getting more into to the act, though to what extent is hard to say.