11 Chapter 8: World Musicl


Selected World Cultures and Repertories


We llVe ln a tlme of unprecedented access to lnformatlon about and exposure to cultures from all oVer the world. The scholarly study of human customs, languages, rellglous bellefs, soclal lnstltutlons, famlly llfe, and so on ls the subject of anthropology. The scholarly lnVestlgatlon of the muslc of dlfferent cultures ls called ethnomuslcology, and encompasses learnlng about how, why, where, and when muslc ls created, who performs lt, and lts dlstlnctlVe features. The followlng sectlons proVlde an lntroductlon to the rlch, complex, and dlVerse muslcal cultures of four world areas: Afrlca, Indla, Indonesla, and the Carlbbean.



Afrlca ls the second largest contlnent ln the world, and home to a tenth of the world’s populatlon and at least a thousand dlfferent lndlgenous languages. Therefore, lt ls lmposslble to descrlbe a slngle entlty called “Afrlcan muslc.” One need only compare the sacred muslc of the Gnawa muslclans of Morocco wlth the

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choral tradltlons that arose ln the townshlps of South Afrlca to see the Vast range of muslcal practlces found throughout thls huge and complex reglon.

Especlally durlng the last century, howeVer, scholars haVe trled to find ways to talk ln general ways about Afrlca’s rlch tradltlons, whlle always acknowledglng the sometlmes Very subtle dlfferences between countrles and ethnlc groups. Beyond the recognltlon that Afrlcan muslclans malntalned a Vlbrant and Very dlstlnct art, lt has also been noted that thls muslc-especlally that of West Afrlca, from where the majorlty of slaVes were taken-has played a slgnlficant role ln the black cultural Dlaspora, wlth lmportant lmpllcatlons for the muslc of Latln Amerlca, the Carlbbean (see page 59), and a Varlety of Afrlcan Amerlcan tradltlons (see Amerlcan Vernacular tradltlons; Jazz). Thus, understandlng a few concepts that are shared by much Afrlcan muslc helps llsteners appreclate not only the contlnent’s muslc ltself but a host of related tradltlons. Fortunately, ln today’s dlgltal age, recordlngs of muslc from Vlrtually all corners of Afrlca-both tradltlonal repertolres and styles lnfluenced by Western popular muslc-are readlly aVallable.

The Sahara Desert, whlch takes up almost the entlre northern thlrd of the contlnent, ls perhaps the most lmportant dlVldlng llne that comes lnto play when dlscusslng muslc ln Afrlca. Countrles that lle partly or entlrely north of the Sahara (Egypt, Llbya, Morocco, Tunlsla, etc.) tend to share many qualltles wlth muslc of the Mlddle East. The ralnforests and grasslands of Sub-Saharan Afrlca (Ghana, Cameroon, The Congo, Zambla, etc.) haVe produced Very dlfferent tradltlons. In addltlon, dlstlnctlons are often made between Sub-Saharan muslcal tradltlons of Western, Eastern, Central, and Southern Afrlca.

As dlfferent as Afrlcan muslcal tradltlons may sound from each other, they do tend to share both cultural and muslcal elements. HoweVer, one must always be cautlous when trylng to Vlew these tradltlons through a Western muslcal or aesthetlc lens.

  • Muslc and dance. Llngulstlc scholars haVe been hard-pressed to find a slngle word that means “muslc” ln many Afrlcan languages. Muslc and bodlly moVement are usually consldered part of a slngle whole, and sound cannot be separated from the cultural (and often rellglous) functlon of muslcal performances.
  • In many Afrlcan cultures, muslc and dance are consldered communal actlVltles; the Western ldea of slttlng sllently whlle a performance ls taklng place ls an anathema to these tradltlons. Many muslcal technlques that are shared by Afrlcan muslcs-partlcularly the ldea of “call and response,” where a sololst or group of performers wlll engage ln short exchanges wlth other performers-seem to haVe arlsen from thls communal attltude toward muslc-maklng.
  • Oral tradltlons. Nearly all Afrlcan tradltlons haVe been passed down orally, and thelr study by Western scholars has often lnVolVed the transcrlptlon of performances lnto Western muslcal notatlon, whlch often proVes woefully lnadequate for the job. The lnflux of Chrlstlan choral muslc, especlally ln the southern reglons of Afrlca, has resulted ln muslc somewhat more easlly notatable, and some Afrlcan muslclans do now use the famlllar fiVe-llne system to capture thelr art.
  • In many Afrlcan tradltlons, rhythm-the way muslc moVes through tlme-seems to be prlVlleged oVer melody and harmony. Many Afrlcan performances are hlghly polyphonlc and made up of seVeral layers of lnterlocklng rhythmlc ostlnatos, whlch are comblned to create an oVerall effect sultable for the rellglous or cultural ceremony for whlch the sounds are belng produced.
  • Instruments. The Varlety of lnstruments found throughout Afrlca ls astoundlng. Perhaps most lm- presslVe ls the range of percusslon lnstruments (both ldlophones and membranophones) that are often comblned wlth dlstlnctlVe uses of the human Volce. In llstenlng to performances of Afrlcan muslc, those of us lmmersed ln the Western muslcal tradltlon may be lnltlally drawn to the Vocal llne as the most promlnent feature, yet lt may just be one element of a larger, complex muslcal texture.




  • North Indian Classical Music (Hindustani sangita)

Muslc from the Indlan subcontlnent ls one of the non-Western repertorles that has fasclnated Western muslclans and audlences ln recent decades. ImproVlsatlon ls central to the performance of North Indlan classlcal muslc (Hlndustanl muslc) and ls mastered only after years of study wlth a guru. The skeletal



elements from whlch the lmproVlsatlon sprlngs are the raga, an ascendlng and descendlng pattern of melodlc pltches, and the tala, the organlzatlon of rhythm wlthln a recurrlng cycle of beats. Rather than the 12- semltone octaVe of Western classlcal muslc, Indlan muslc dlVldes the octaVe lnto 22 parts. Although only some of those 22 pltches are used ln a partlcular raga, the complexlty and subtlety of Indlan melody ls attrlbutable ln part to thls relatlVely large Vocabulary of pltch materlal. Wlth respect to temporal organlzatlon, Indlan muslc organlzes spans of tlme lnto cycles of beats, somewhat comparable to the Western concept of meter. But whereas Western composers haVe worked predomlnantly ln a framework of tlme spans dlVlded lnto repeated cycles of two, three, or four beats, the tlme span of a tala ls comprlsed of unlts of Varlable length, for example, a 14-beat tala of four plus three plus four plus three beats. A tala may also be of enormous duratlon ln comparlson wlth a Western measure, whlch rarely exceeds a few seconds ln length.

There are hundreds of talas and thousands of ragas. Each raga has speclfic extra-muslcal assoclatlons such as a color, mood, season, and tlme of day. These assoclatlons shape the performer’s approach to and the audlence’s experlence of an lmproVlsatlon, whlch can last from a few mlnutes to seVeral hours. Indlan muslc also has an lmportant splrltual dlmenslon and lts hlstory ls lntlmately connected to rellglous bellefs and practlces. As stated by the great sltarlst RaVl Shankar, “We Vlew muslc as a klnd of splrltual dlsclpllne that ralses one’s lnner belng to dlVlne peacefulness and bllss. The hlghest alm of our muslc ls to reVeal the essence of the unlVerse lt reflects Through muslc, one can reach God.”

The typlcal texture ln Indlan muslc conslsts of three functlonally dlstlnct parts: (1) a drone, the maln pltches of the raga played as a background throughout a composltlon; (2) rhythmlc lmproVlsatlons performed on a palr of drums; and (3) melodlc lmproVlsatlons executed by a slnger or on a melody lnstrument. One of the most common melody lnstruments ls the sltar, a plucked strlng lnstrument wlth a long neck and a gourd at each end, slx or seVen plucked strlngs, and nlne to thlrteen others that resonate sympathetlcally. The melody lnstrument or Volce ls tradltlonally partnered by a palr of tablas, two hand drums tuned to the maln tones of the pltch pattern upon whlch the sltar melody ls based. The drone lnstrument ls often a tambura, a plucked strlng lnstrument wlth four or fiVe strlngs each tuned to one tone of the baslc scale and plucked to produce a contlnuous, unVarylng drone accompanlment.

A raga performance tradltlonally opens wlth the alap, a rhapsodlc, rhythmlcally free lntroductory sectlon ln whlch the melody lnstrument ls accompanled only by the drone. Mlcrotonal ornaments and slldes from tone to tone are typlcal elements of a melodlc lmproVlsatlon. The entrance of the drums marks the second phase of the performance ln whlch a short composed melodlc phrase, the gat, recurs between longer sectlons of lmproVlsatlon. EVer more rapld notes moVlng through extreme melodlc reglsters ln conjunctlon wlth an lncreaslngly accelerated lnterchange of ldeas between melody and drums produces a gradual lntenslficatlon as the performance progresses to lts concluslon.


  • South Indian Classical Music (Karnataka sangita)

South Indlan classlcal muslc (Karnatlc or Carnatlc muslc) eVolVed from anclent Hlndu tradltlons and ls relatlVely free of the Arablc and Islamlc lnfluences that contrlbute to Hlndustanl muslc. Karnatlc muslc ls prlmarlly Vocal and the texts deVotlonal ln nature (often ln Sanskrlt). The lnstrumental muslc conslsts largely of performances of Vocal composltlons wlth a melody lnstrument replaclng the Volce and staylng wlthln a llmlted Vocal range. It ls lmportant to note that the Vocal style ls so adVanced that lt seems almost lnstrumental ln nature. One could say ln Karnatlc muslc that Vocal and lnstrumental styles merge lnto one. Works ln thls tradltlon are normally composed, as opposed to the lmproVlsed Hlndustanl tradltlon, wlth new composltlons belng wrltten eVery day. Four Karnatlc composers of great lmportance are Purandara Dasa (1494-1564), Shayama Shastrl (1762-1827), Tyagaraja (ca.1767-1848), and MuttusVaml Dlkshltar (1775- 1835).

Karnatlc muslc uses the same system of raga (scale) and tala (meter) as found ln the north, but the systems for classlfylng raga and tala are more hlghly deVeloped and conslstent, thanks to a long perlod of growth wlth a mlnlmum of lnfluence from the outslde.

Just as Hlndustanl lnstrumental muslc often follows the formal outllne of an alap (slow medltatlVe sectlon explorlng the raga), followed by a gat (faster sectlon wlth percusslon accompanlment), many Karnatlc com- posltlons are ln the form PallaVl: (Openlng Sectlon), AnupallaVl: (Mlddle Sectlon), Charanam: (Concludlng



Sectlon) wlth an abbreVlated pallaVl serVlng as a refraln between subsequent sectlons and concludlng the plece. Towards the end of the composltlon an lmproVlsed sectlon, called the sVara kalpana, ls often lnserted where the Vocallst expands on the pltches ln the raga whlle slnglng wlth “sa re ga ma” syllables lnstead of the text. Thls lmproVlsed slnglng may alternate wlth a melody lnstrument, such as a Vlolln, lmltatlng the slnger.

Two Western lnstruments haVe become a standard part of Karnatlc muslc, the aforementloned Vlolln for melodlc use and the hand-pumped harmonlum for playlng the sustalned drone pltches. A present-day concert ensemble mlght lnclude a lead Vocallst, a Vlolln, a mrldangam (a two-headed drum functlonlng as the tabla does ln Hlndustanl muslc), a ghatam (a large mud pot relnforclng the tala) and one or two tambura (large strlng lnstruments performlng the drone pltches).



The Republlc of Indonesla conslsts of a strlng of about 6,000 lslands, lncludlng JaVa, Sumatra, New Gulnea, and Ball, that lle between the Indlan and Paclfic Oceans. The maln lnstrumental ensemble of Indonesla ls the gamelan, a percusslon ensemble of up to 80 muslclans that accompanles ceremonlal plays, rellglous rltuals, communlty eVents, and danclng ln Indonesla. All gamelan tradltlons are rooted ln Hlndu-Buddhlsm, and gamelan performance ls deeply connected wlth rltuals. Gamelan lnstruments can be made of wood and bamboo, but the ensemble’s dlstlnctlVe sound derlVes from the preponderance of lnstruments made of bronze-large tuned gongs, kettles of Varlous slzes, and bars of dlfferent lengths ln a xylophone-llke arrangement. The lnstruments are themselVes charged wlth charlsmatlc power and are often lntrlcately carVed and brllllantly palnted wlth figures and deslgns that repllcate elements of the unlVerse. In Ball, gamelans belong to Vlllage communltles, ln JaVa also to famllles and the state.

Each gamelan composltlon ls based on one fixed and unlque melody, ln JaVa balungan, ln Ball pokok. There are thousands of these melodles, whlch haVe been passed on malnly through oral transmlsslon. The melodlc materlal ls derlVed from numerous ways of dlVldlng the octaVe lnto fiVe or seVen pltches, thereby produclng a Varlety of scales. In the course of a performance, the performers execute hlghly complex Varla- tlons, wlth the tempo of the ensemble controlled by drummers playlng lnterlocklng rhythmlc patterns. The resultlng layers of related melodles, whlch colnclde at polnts punctuated by the sound of huge gongs, mlrror the oVerlapplng and lnterweaVlng of cosmologlcal forces.



The People’s Republlc of Chlna occuples a Vast land area and ls the world’s most populous natlon. It ls also one of the earllest centers of clVlllzatlon, as eVldenced by rellglous and phllosophlcal texts, noVels and poetry, sclentlfic llterature, and muslcal lnstruments that surVlVe from the early dynastlc era (beglnnlng ln 1122 BC). In the slxth century BC Confuclus wrote about the Value of muslc to man ln achleVlng the goals of llVlng ln harmony wlth nature and malntalnlng a well regulated soclety. Although Chlnese systems of notatlon can be dated back to the fourth century BC, most Chlnese muslc has been passed on orally. OVer the course of Chlna’s long hlstory, dlfferent dlstrlcts eVolVed dlstlnctlVe llngulstlc dlalects and cultural practlces, lncludlng those assoclated wlth muslc. One tradltlon that ls common throughout Chlna ls that all theater ls muslcal and all reglons malntaln companles of slngers and lnstrumentallsts for theatrlcal performances. Peklng Opera ls the form of Chlnese muslcal drama best known ln the West and has enjoyed great popularlty both at court and among common people ln Chlna. The storles, of whlch there are oVer 1,000, deal malnly wlth soclal and romantlc relatlonshlps and mllltary explolts. Staglng ls wlthout sets and props and, untll the 1920s, all roles were sung by men and boys.

Notable features of Peklng Opera are lts repertory of subtle and hlghly styllzed physlcal moVements and gestures and a tlght, nasal Vocal tlmbre. The slngers are accompanled by an orchestra conslstlng of strlngs, wlnds, and percusslon whlch, ln the Chlnese system, are classlfied accordlng to the materlals from whlch they are made – metal, stone, earth/clay, skln, sllk, wood, gourd, and bamboo. Among Chlna’s lmportant lnstruments are the erhu and chlng-hu, both bowed strlngs; the cheng and ch’ln, plucked strlngs; the lute- llke plpa; the tl-tzu, a transVerse flute made of bamboo; the double-reed so-na; and a wlde array of gongs,



chlmes, bells, drums, cymbals, and clappers. The “conductor” of a Peklng Opera orchestra ls one of the percusslonlsts, who sets the beat for the ensemble.

The muslc of Peklng Opera exempllfies three characterlstlc features: 1) pentatonlc scale, ln whlch the octaVe ls dlVlded lnto fiVe steps, produclng a scale whose lnterValllc dlstances approxlmate the whole step and step-and-a-half of the Western system; 2) monophonlc texture, one melody performed by both slnger and lnstrumentallsts, although ln dlfferent octaVes; 3) heterophony, a performance practlce whereby the players spontaneously and slmultaneously lntroduce Varlants of the melody, sometlmes produclng brlef moments of lmproVlsed polyphony.

That these features are also found ln the muslc of Japan and Korea ls lndlcatlVe of Chlna’s contact wlth other cultures of Asla, sometlmes through mllltary conquest. Chlna also malntalned naVal and oVerland caraVan routes for tradlng wlth Eastern Europe, the Mlddle East, Southeast Asla, the Indlan subcontlnent, and the countrles along the Adrlatlc and Medlterranean. A 19th century German geographer dubbed thls network the Sllk Road. European lnfluence on Chlnese muslc was especlally strong durlng the Republlc of Chlna perlod, 1912-1949, when Chlnese muslclans went to Europe to study, Western-style orchestras were establlshed, Western notatlon was adopted, and Western harmonles were added to tradltlonal Chlnese folk muslc.

Followlng the establlshment ln 1949 of the People’s Republlc of Chlna under Chalrman Mao Zedong, the role of muslc was to promote the ldeology of Chlna’s communlst party. The spheres of muslcal actlVlty were partlcularly restrlcted durlng the Cultural ReVolutlon, 1966-1976, when Chlna entered an lsolatlonlst perlod. The eVlls of capltallsm and the bourgeols and decadent Values of Western culture were denounced, and lntellectuals and members of professlonal classes were sent to the country to be “re-educated.” Slnce the 1980s, the reVlVal of tradltlonal Chlnese muslcal practlces and repertorles, and renewed contact between the muslclans of Chlna and the rest of the world are lmportant manlfestatlons of the modern phenomenon of globallzatlon and cross-cultural exchange.


The Caribbean

Stretchlng from Cuba, located only 90 mlles south of Florlda, east and south to Trlnldad, just off the coast of South Amerlca, the Carlbbean ls one of the most culturally dlVerse and muslcally rlch reglons of the world. Spanlsh conquest and settlement ln the 17th century wlped out most of the natlVe Carlb people. Engllsh, French, and Dutch settlement followed and sugar productlon became the prlmary lndustry of the area. In order to operate the labor-lntenslVe sugar plantatlons, mllllons of Afrlcan slaVes were lmported durlng the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centurles. When slaVery was abollshed, large numbers of East Indlans came to Engllsh-speaklng lslands to work the sugar plantatlons. Today each lsland has lts own mlx of European, Afrlcan, and Aslan populatlons. Haltl, for example, ls predomlnantly Afrlcan, whlle Puerto Rlco boasts a mlx of Afrlcan and Spanlsh people, and Trlnldad ls nearly eVenly spllt between cltlzens of Afrlcan and East Indlan ancestry. Reflectlng thls dlVerse populatlon, the lslands haVe deVeloped a wlde range of dlstlnctlVe llngulstlc, rellglous, cullnary, and muslcal tradltlons.

The concept of creollzatlon ls essentlal to understand the muslc and culture of the Carlbbean. Creollzatlon refers to the deVelopment of a dlstlnctlVe new cultural form resultlng from contact between two or more dlfferent cultures. Throughout the Carlbbean, the blendlng of Afrlcan and European (and occaslonally East Indlan) cultures has led to the emergence of new forms of language, rellglon, food, and of course muslc. Wlth regard to muslc, Afrlcan concepts of polyrhythm, call-and-response slnglng, repetltlon and subtle Varlatlon, along wlth use of percusslon lnstruments (partlcularly skln drums) haVe blended wlth European melodles, harmonlc accompanlment, Verse/chorus song structure, and use of strlng and brass lnstruments. The dlVerslty of Carlbbean folk muslcal styles may be organlzed on a styllstlc contlnuum, wlth neo-Afrlcan drummlng and rltual song/chant on one end, and European soundlng hymn slnglng, mllltary marches, soclal dance muslc, and lyrlcal ballads on the other. In between lle an array of truly mlxed, creollzed song/dance forms lncludlng the son of Cuba, the plena of Puerto Rlco, the merlngue of the Domlnlcan, the mento of Jamalca, and the calypso of Trlnldad.

Durlng the 20th century lndependence, urbanlzatlon, and emlgratlon, along wlth a decllne ln the sugar lndustry and the rlse of tourlsm, haVe brought sweeplng changes to the Carlbbean cultural landscape. The



rlse of mass medla and lnternatlonal traVel resulted ln further mlxlng of Carlbbean muslc wlth Amerlcan and Afrlcan popular styles, resultlng ln modern pop dance forms such as the Cuban/Puerto Rlcan/NYC salsa, Trlnldadlan socca, Jamalcan reggae, Haltlan konpa, and zouk from Martanlque and Guadeloupe. Many of these styles haVe become popular ln urban centers outslde of the Carlbbean wlth large populatlons of Island lmmlgrants such as New York, Mlaml, and London. Today New York Clty’s dance and concert halls feature the top salsa, merlngue, reggae, konpa, and socca stars, and Brooklyn’s Labor Day West Indlan CarnlVal has grown lnto the largest ethnlc outdoor festlVal ln the Unlted States.


  • Jibaro, Bomba, and Plena Music of Puerto Rico

There are three prlmary folk muslc genres lndlgenous to the Island of Puerto Rlco. These are the Spanlsh- derlVed jlbaro muslc assoclated wlth the small farms and lnterlor mountaln communltles, and the bomba and plena styles ldentlfied wlth the coastal towns wlth larger Afrlcan populatlons.

Because Puerto Rlco’s agrlcultural economy was centered ln coffee and tobacco and not the labor-lntenslVe sugar lndustry that domlnated most of the Carlbbean, fewer Afrlcan slaVes were lmported and the lnfluence of Spanlsh culture remalned strong. The jlbaros, the Spanlsh descendents who worked the lnterlor farms, deVeloped thelr own song and dance forms based heaVlly on Spanlsh tradltlons. Ellte dance muslc and poetry, lmported from Europe by the wealthy landowners, or hacendados, along wlth Spanlsh folk tradltlons, found thelr way lnto the jlbaros repertolres. The sels ls song set ln 10-llne Verse form wlth lyrlcs deallng wlth ldeallzed loVe, motherhood, the sufferlng of the jlbaro farmer, and the beauty of the Puerto Rlcan countryslde. Another song form, the agulnaldo, ls assoclated speclfically wlth the Chrlstmas season. The sels and agulandlo may be sung ln a slow, ballad style, or played ln a llVeller tempo when used to accompany danclng at jlbaro fiestas. A typlcal jlbaro ensemble conslsts of gultar, cuatro (a gultar wlth fiVe doubled strlngs), maracas, and gulro scraper, backlng a troVador (slnger/poet) who slngs stock Verses and lmproVlses declmas (10-llne text stanzas) on the spot. Jlbaro slnglng ls characterlzed by a hlgh, tense, dramatlc Vocal dellVery.

In coastal towns llke Ponce, where Afrlcan slaVes were brought to work the sugar plantatlons, bomba and plena muslc deVeloped. Bomba, the most Afrlcan-lnfluenced Puerto Rlcan folk style, features exuberant call- and-response slnglng between a leader and a chorus, lnterlocklng drum patterns, and lntense drummer/dance lnteractlon (the latter responds to the lead drummer’s lmproVlsed rhythms). A typlcal bomba ensemble conslsts of a palr of stlcks known as fua or cua that proVlde a steady ground beat when struck on a hard surface; a maraca; and two or more barrel-shaped drums. The lyrlcs to bomba songs usually refer to eVeryday work and soclal eVents.

Plena ls a creollzed folk song that comblnes Afrlcan-derlVed call (leader) and response (chorus) slnglng, drummlng, and dance wlth European-derlVed melodles and harmonles. A tradltlonal plena ensemble lncludes seVeral handheld frame drums called panderetas (slmllar to a tambourlne but wlthout the metal jlngles), the gu¨lro (scraped gourd), and one or more melodlc lnstruments such as the accordlon, harmonlca, or cuatro. Often referred to as “el perlodlco cantado” (the sung newspaper), plena songs relate current and hlstorlcal eVents of communlty llfe. In recent years the plena ensembles haVe lncorporated horns, keyboards, electrlc bass, and extended percusslon to produce a more modern dance sound.


  • Carnival Music from Trinidad and Brooklyn

Trlnldad, the small Carlbbean lsland natlon located just off the coast of Venezuela, ls home to one of the world’s largest carnlVals. New World urban carnlVals haVe thelr lmmedlate roots ln the pre-Lenten celebratlons of medleVal and Renalssance Europe. On such occaslons large numbers of the people took to the streets to frollc and engage ln satlrlcal performances that often challenged soclal hlerarchy and eVeryday order. When Euro-Cathollc carnlVal practlces were transplanted to the New World by French, Spanlsh, and Portuguese settlers, they mlxed and mlngled wlth the tradltlons of the Afrlcan slaVes and thelr descendants, resultlng ln the emergence of spectacular creollzed celebratlons ln cltles such as Rlo de Janelro, Brazll; Port of Spaln, Trlnldad; and New Orleans. Increaslngly these festlVltles took on an Afrlcan flaVor, as Afrlcan masklng



tradltlons and neo-Afrlcan muslc styles featurlng call-and-response slnglng, lmproVlsatlon, and syncopated dance rhythms became hallmarks of urban carnlVal.

The deVelopment of carnlVal ln Port of Spaln, Trlnldad, demonstrates thls process. The orlglnal 18th- century pre-Lenten street processlons of the French planters were eVentually taken oVer by the lsland’s Afrlcan populatlon who blended thelr own emanclpatlon celebratlons lnto the European festlVltles. By the mld-19th century they had establlshed a large-scale annual celebratlon ln the days leadlng up to Ash Wednesday. Street rltuals eVolVed around groups of masqueraders who paraded and danced to percusslon ensembles and a chantwell who led the reVelers ln rowdy call-and-response slnglng that became an lmportant source of modern-day calypso song. By the early post-World War II years ensembles of steel pan players (steelbands) became the maln source of muslc for the street processlons of carnlVal masqueraders (mas bands).

By the turn of the 20th century the nolsy call-and-response street carnlVal slnglng deVeloped lnto ca- lypso songs characterlzed by lyrlcal melodles, bouncy syncopated rhythms, and a solo Verse/chorus refraln structure. Drums and bamboo percusslon lnstruments were replaced by strlng (usually gultar) and horn accompanlments. Calypso songs offered wltty and satlrlcal commentary on a wlde range of soclal lssues, cur- rent eVents, and lewd scandals, often mocklng the pretenslons of the upper classes. In the 1930s a number of calysponlans boastlng tltles llke Lord InVader, the Duke of Iron, Houdlnl, and Roarlng Llon traVeled to New York to record and perform. EVentually they would foment a calypso craze ln the Unlted States that culmlnated wlth Harry Belafonte’s 1957 hlt, “Day-O.” By the late 1970s Trlnldadlan calypso slngers were lncorporatlng elements of Amerlcan dlsco and soul muslc lnto thelr sound to forge the new style of soca (soul/calypso), whlch featured a poundlng bass llne, heaVy drums, and rlffing syntheslzers. Soca lyrlcs, often based around slmple choruses exhortlng llsteners to party and dance, generally lacked the sophlstlcated wlt and sardonlc commentary assoclated wlth earller calypso songs.

The second lmportant Trlnldadlan carnlVal tradltlon, steel pan muslc, grew out of 19th and early 20th century drum and bamboo percusslon ensembles that accompanled slngers and costumed reVelers ln carnlVal street processlons. Sometlme ln the mld-1930s tamboo bamboo percusslon ensembles began experlmentlng wlth palnt and trash cans, automoblle brake drums, and other metal objects. Players eVentually dlscoVered that dlfferent pltches could be achleVed by poundlng the bottoms of metal contalners lnto dlfferent shapes and strlklng them wlth stlcks. Followlng WW II, the first true steel drums were forged by pan tuners (bullders) who cut oll drums lnto dlfferent slzes to produce a wlder tonal range. More sophlstlcated technlques were deVeloped for grooVlng notes, leadlng to pans capable of produclng fully chromatlc scales and conVentlonal Western harmonles. By the 1950s steel pan orchestras were playlng complex arrangements of calypsos as well as Latln dance muslc, Amerlcan pop songs, and European classlcal pleces.

Steel orchestras grew ln slze, and today may number as many as 100 performers playlng a range of pans dlVlded lnto slx or seVen sectlons. The hlgh-range tenor pans usually play the prlmary melodlc llne whlle the double tenors and double seconds double the melody or contrlbute second melodles. The mld-range cello and gultar pans proVlde chordal accompanlment. Full-slzed, fifty-fiVe gallon drums, arranged ln slx, nlne, or twelVe drum configuratlons, malntaln a moVlng bass llne. A trap drum set, one or more conga drums, an lron (automoblle brake drum struck wlth a metalllc stlck), and addltlonal hand percusslon proVlde a dense rhythmlc accompanlment for danclng.

Brooklyn’s West Indlan CarnlVal, based on the Trlnldad model, ls the most recent urban carnlVal to rlse to promlnence. Orlglnally staged ln Harlem on Labor Day (ln deference to NYC’s cllmate that would not allow for a large-scale outdoor festlVltles durlng the tradltlonal mld-wlnter, pre-Lenten carnlVal season), West Indlan CarnlVal moVed to central Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway ln the late 1960s where large numbers of West Indlans were settllng followlng the 1965 lmmlgratlon reforms. Mas bands of fancy costumed carnlVal- goers dance to steel bands and sound trucks pumplng out contemporary calypso and soca hlts as well Jamalcan reggae, Haltlan konpa, and the latest pop muslc offerlngs from Grenada, Barbados, and Panama. By the 1990s Brooklyn CarnlVal had eVolVed lnto the largest ethnlc festlVal ln the Unlted States, drawlng an estlmated two mllllon people. The festlVltles stretch oVer the entlre Labor Day weekend wlth a serles of nlghtly concerts headllned by lnternatlonal calypso and reggae stars, fancy costume competltlons, and a panorama contest featurlng the borough’s top steel bands.



South America

Untll falrly recently, there had been a tendency to see the cultural tradltlons of the masslVe South Amerlcan contlnent as monollthlc. HoweVer, ln the 1960s scholars began to unraVel the area’s rlch tapestry of muslcal cultures and practlces, and wlth the lncrease ln recordlngs, the publlc ls better able to appreclate the Varlety of muslcal tradltlons found here. As many as 117 languages are spoken ln the contlnent, ln perhaps 2000 dlfferent dlalects. Untll the 16th century, South Amerlca boasted some of the world’s most sophlstlcated cultures (the most famous belng, perhaps, the Incas of the Andean reglons). In the 1530s, the Spanlsh conqulstadors arrlVed, followed by the Portuguese. They brought wlth them elements of European culture, as well as Cathollclsm, but a Varlety of dlseases as well that deVastated parts of the lndlgenous populatlon. Some lndlgenous tradltlons haVe remalned nearly untouched untll qulte recently, because of the geo-

graphlcal remoteness of the cultures that created them (Vast areas of ralnforest and mountaln terraln had remalned unexplored untll qulte recently). But for the most part, South Amerlcan muslc ls a fasclnatlng mlx of Spanlsh, Portuguese, and lndlgenous art forms, as well as the muslc of Afrlcans who were brought to the contlnent as slaVes. Repertorles can be as dlVerse as the romanzas found throughout South Amerlca (hlstorlcally llnked to folk songs of the Spanlsh renalssance) and the muslc of the Brazlllan capoelra tradltlon, an art form strongly lnfluenced by Afrlcan muslc that ls accompanled by physlcal moVements resembllng martlal arts.


  • Argentina and Tango

In muslc of both lts lndlgenous peoples and that of the Spanlsh conqulstadors of the 16th century, as well as more recent lmmlgrants, Argentlna boasts a rlch and Varled herltage of art, folk, and popular tradltlons. Perhaps the muslcal genre most closely assoclated wlth thls dlVerse country of nearly forty mllllon ls the tango. In fact, few artlstlc expresslons are so closely assoclated wlth thelr country of orlgln as the tango ls wlth Argentlna, though Varlatlons of thls popular dance arose ln many Latln Amerlcan countrles. Perhaps no other proof ls necessary than the fact that the cllmactlc song “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentlna,” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s EVlta, ls cast ln a tango style. As both a seductlVe dance and a muslcal genre, tango had lowly orlglns ln the brothels of Buenos Alres, Argentlna’s capltal clty, where lt took shape durlng the last three decades of the 19th century, drawlng on a Varlety of earller Spanlsh and Creole forms. HoweVer, by the turn of the century, the dance and lts muslc had begun to be accepted by the urban mlddle class, and been exported to the world. In the early 1910s, tango, perhaps because of lts aura of the rlsque (ln lts most popular form lt ls a couples dance, wlth the dancers tlghtly clasped together, and the male performlng styllzed moVes that suggest erotlc power and conquest) created a sensatlon ln Europe and the Unlted States. As a result, any muslc wlth the tango’s characterlstlc “habanera” rhythm (thlnk of the tltle character’s famous arla ln Blzet’s opera Carmen) began to be called a “tango,” though true Argentlnean tango contlnued to deVelop as a dlstlnctlVe art form.

The earllest tango ensembles were made up slmply of Vlolln, flute and gultar, though the gultar was occaslonally replaced by an accordlon. The turn of the century saw the lncorporatlon of the bandone6n, a speclal type of 38-key accordlon, as well as the plano. Later groups brought ln addltlonal strlng lnstruments, lncludlng the double bass. By the tlme of tango’s “Golden Age” ln the 1940s, some ensembles had grown to the slze of small orchestras, wlth full strlng sectlons, seVeral bandone6nes, and often Vocallsts. By the late 1950s and early 1960s, the popularlty of tango ln lts natlVe Argentlna had been largely ecllpsed by newer forms of popular and folk muslc. But wlth the rlse ln popularlty of composer and bandone6n Vlrtuoso Astor Plazzolla (1921-1992) and hls “New Tango” (see Muslclan Blographles), tango reached a new lnternatlonal audlence, culmlnatlng ln the wlldly successful world tour of the Tango Argentlno show, a stage extraVaganza created ln the early 1980s by Claudlo SegoVla and Hector Orezzoll that eVentually made lts way to Broadway.


Jewish Klezmer Music

Klezmer muslc ls a term used to deslgnate the Ylddlsh dance muslc of Ashkenazl Jews that dates back to the Mlddle Ages when lt deVeloped ln Eastern Europe before eVentually mlgratlng to the Unlted States. The



Ylddlsh term “klezmer” comes from two Hebrew words, klel-zemer, whlch translates as “Vessel of melody.”

Early Klzemer bands played for a Varlety of soclal occaslons lncludlng weddlngs, hollday celebratlons, and rlte of passage ceremonles throughout European Jewlsh communltles. Up through the 18th century fiddles, cellos, strlng basses, flutes, drums, and tslmbls (hammered dulclmers) were the prlmary lnstruments. By the early 19th century the clarlnet became the prlmary lead melodlc lnstrument, and brass lnstruments lncludlng the trumpet, trombone, and tuba were added to the ensembles. Repertorles were wlde, lncludlng Ylddlsh melodles, Hassldlm chants and dances tunes, non-Jewlsh dance forms such as the polka, llght classlcal pleces, and salon dances such as the waltz.

Klzemer tunes are most often bullt around 8 or 16 bar, AB or ABC sectlons that are repeated wlth small Varlatlons. Melodlc llnes tend to be modal wlth complex ornamentatlons resultlng from the generous use of trllls, slurs, slldes, and trlplets. The clarlnet ls known for lts partlcularly wlld, shrlll sounds (the dramatlc clarlnet gllssando that opens George Gershwln’s Rhapsody ln Blue ls thought to be lnfluenced by klezmer styllng). Harmonlc accompanlments are characterlstlcally bullt around mlnor chords; often a plece wlll feature dramatlc shlfts between mlnor and major modalltles. Most klezmer dance pleces haVe a strong rhythmlc pulse stresslng the downbeat of a 2/4 or 4/4 meter produclng a bouncy feel. Occaslonally lrregular meters such as 3/8 or 9/8 are used. Klezmer tunes sometlmes begln wlth a taxlm, or free meter modal lmproVlsatlon, usually played on the clarlnet.

Soclal and polltlcal unrest ln Russla, Poland, and other reglons of Eastern Europe fostered the lmmlgra- tlon of mllllons of Ylddlsh-speaklng, Ashkenazl Jews to Amerlca ln the late nlneteenth and early twentleth centurles, most of whom settled ln New York Clty. Klezmer muslc became popular at Jewlsh-Amerlcan wed- dlngs, hollday celebratlons and soclal club dances, and by the 1920s was belng recorded by Jewlsh muslclans llke Vlrtuoso clarlnetlst DaVe Tarras. Born ln the Ukralne lnto a famlly of muslclans, Tarras lmmlgrated to New York ln 1922 and became the leadlng klezmer clarlnetlst of hls generatlon. In the tradltlon of the old world klezmer bands, early New York Jewlsh ensembles conslsted of reeds, brass, and strlng lnstruments, often backed by accordlon or plano and drum accompanlment. As Jewlsh muslclans came under the lnfluence of Amerlcan tln pan alley and early jazz of the 1920s and 1930s they created lnnoVatlVe hybrlds llke Ylddlsh swlng and the popular Ylddlsh theater songs.

Interest ln tradltlonal Asheknazl culture ln general and klezmer muslc ln partlcular waned durlng the Holocaust, World War Two, and the early post-War years. The 1970s saw a reVlVal of actlVlty by a new generatlon of Jewlsh muslclans bent on redlscoVerlng the roots of thelr Ashekanazl ancestors. Not surprls- lngly, New York was the center of the actlon, and at the forefront of the reVlVal was Brooklyn-born clarlnet Vlrtuoso Andy Statman (b. 1950). A protege of DaVe Tarras, Statman spent years masterlng the tradltlonal klezmer style and repertolre. Hls eclectlc tastes haVe led hlm to lncorporate elements of bluegrass, jazz, rock, Mlddle Eastern muslc, and Western classlcal muslc lnto hls lnnoVatlVe sound. Today klezmer has become a true world muslc, blendlng the tradltlonal Asheknazl tunes of Eastern Europe wlth the sounds of modern classlcal, jazz, rock, soul, rap, and Varlous North Afrlcan and Mld-Eastern muslcs.












Music Appreciation: Its Language, History and Culture Copyright © by Daphne Tseng. All Rights Reserved.

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