The third and final part of this book explores how migration and mediation have worked together to shape musical practices of the recent past. In chapter 6 we see that the ease of transmitting music through recording and travel has left a mark on individuals’ thinking about their own music-making. The American composers Lou Harrison, Terry Riley, and Olly Wilson worked in the Euro-American concert tradition but also brought in music of other traditions. The American popular songwriter Paul Simon chose to draw on the music of the South African singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The ability to join a tradition of one’s choosing (rather than inheriting one from forebears) derives from the sense—new during this era—that all traditions are accessible through recorded media and are available for appropriation. Strategies for borrowing have changed over time. Though this first generation of composers highlighted their borrowings in conspicuous ways to demonstrate political and social affiliations, US composers of a later generation—Barbara Benary, Asha Srinivasan, and Courtney Bryan—take a subtler approach, melding their borrowed music into more seamless wholes. Nonetheless, their borrowings remain meaningful to them and to their audiences.
Chapter 7 focuses on the ways in which the recording industry has clashed with music-makers and listeners, both in the US and abroad, and on the ways in which conflicts about ownership and piracy shape the production and reception of music. Copyright is protected asymmetrically in ways that advantage Europe and the United States. Copyright enforcement efforts have led to violent interventions in the Global South, and music creators in Latin America, South Asia, and Africa have had difficulty using copyright to protect their work from being exploited internationally. Brazilian efforts of this kind, led by former minister of culture and singer/songwriter Gilberto Gil, offer an opportunity to think about alternative models of ownership.
Page 150 →Building on the insights from earlier chapters, chapter 8 uses the theory of Nestór García Canclini to discuss artists’ strategic selection of musical styles in a globally networked world. The chapter begins with a consideration of the musical connections forged by the Korean diaspora in the United States. Korean American musicians are using old and new strategies of mediation to create and maintain personal and commercial links with Korea. We then turn to several examples of hip-hop made outside the United States. Musicians who appropriate rap may not all have the opportunity to travel widely, but they can access music from abroad via media. The artists discussed here—Yugen Blakrok, Soultana, and Mayam Mahmoud—draw on African American musical styles, blending that music with their own customs and beliefs to create music that reflects their own points of view.
My conclusion brings together Arjun Appadurai’s and Nestór García Canclini’s ideas about cultural violence with Philip Rieff’s ideas about the role of value judgment in maintaining cultural order. Rieff highlighted what he saw as an ethical danger of postmodern diversity: how are we to make decisions if we lose the ability to judge certain texts or certain selves as “better” or “worse” than others? Canclini describes the ethical dangers of globalization in more practical terms: loss of local or regional identity, economic exploitation of the poor by the rich, and conflicts over what aspects of heritage should be preserved. Yet Appadurai argues that the genie cannot be put back into the bottle: despite these dangers, it may not be possible to go back to a world in which cultures seem distinct from one another and some superior to others. He suggests that the best solution may be to embrace the multiplicity of selves and values.