Got something to say? Hone those sharp thoughts into the sharpest writing.
Poynter's ongoing online tips for improving your writing
(check out #10, Know the Roots of Your Story).
Cambodian Rapper Succeeds Mixing Memories into Hip Hop Poetry
(Why you should seriously consider subscribing to the rockandrap
email service: they told their readers about this fella six, eight months ago.)
War: The Music is the Message
Dao Lang: I'm an Ascetic for Music
Fascinating look at music in South Africa: 3rd Ear's Hidden Years Project
Live from an afflicted yard in KGN, Jamaica, the view from the other side of the bar rail
Do you as a music writer have a reading familiarity with some online music magazines? Check out this hilarious send-up of Pitchfork
(via Women Music Journalists, aka girlgroup
Flaskaland, where it's sometimes Two for Tuesday (or world music on the internet is alive and well, old musings and new)
(from the appropriately named something remarkable
Sunday, April 11, 2004
From and old Woebot post:
……….IS THE NEW NIGERIA/ETHIOPIA
OK you’ve got the Strut (RIP) Comps and the Shrine Comps and the Fela Kuti Box Sets and the entire Etiopiques series etc etc
4) South Africa
Cloudy heads will be unlikey to latch onto the sweet gentle music of the Congo, Senegal and Madagascar. They like it dark, hard and weird.
A crude outlook has emerged from my listening to African music. In my ignorance, I perceive three eras of African music.
1. Traditional pre-colonial music, from field recordings and the first generation in recording studios.
2. Colonial + post-colonial music, having a Western influence, with artists operating largely in their country of origin, working in distinct local styles, operating in a local scene. Some examples: The music of the Ethiopiques series, Congolese Soukous, Mali "blues", etc.
3. The current, Afro-Pop "World Music" scene in which locality is less relevant, style + influence are indelibly interwoven, etc. Dominated by individual artists, rather than styles or scenes.
Which is to say, the most obvious categories in the music I have heard so far seem to be about:
1. The absorption of foreign influces.
2. The shift from rural traditions (sources) to urban scenes (development)
3. The shift from the relative isolation + provincialism (not perjorative) of the "classic" national styles to the post-modern, transnational present.
Rudimentary + obvious way to analyze things; oh well.
Congolese music is exemplary of the middle phase. Fomented in Leopoldville, Belgian Congo, (Kinshasa, DNC), it went on to become the mother-genre of the continent. A vital musical scene developed in an urban environment (usually a capital), patronized by a white elite. Catering to colonial tastes, certain foreign influences were integrated by the scene. In the case of Congolese music, Cuban music figured large. The capitals of the two Congos, Kinshasa and Brazzaville, both served as centers of this music. After the 60s, Congolese music spread across the continent.
By the 80s, many musicians had moved to Europe, especially France. This had a number of consequences. World Music fans from the first world became the primary audience, and musicians catered to their tastes. Musicians recording in France developed a "produced," studio sound and integrated electronic instruments.
Question: I know I am going to get this wrong, but what is the relationship between the terms?
a. "Congolese music"
d. Afro-Cuban music
Answer: All of these are problematic terms that refer to music from the two Congos. Rumba more commonly refers to the style of Latin American music that originated in Cuba and was (with other Cuban music) an important influence on Congolese music. When people speak of Afro-Cuban music, they mean music from greater realm of cuban influence - much of it from Africa. Soukous refers specifically to Congolese music from the 60s, and more broadly to all Congolese and Conogolese-influenced music from then on (much like American RNB).
1. What are the worst misunderstandings in the foregoing?
2. Why did guitar emerge as the dominant lead instrument all over the continent, regardless of what traditions preceded or foreign influences were at work? Provisional answer/guess: the piano, which usually dominated the western styles that African musicians drew from, wasn't available in Africa.
3. Why did France become the headquarters of so many expatriate African musicians. Ie. why were so many recordings done in Paris? Provisional answer: political repression + economic instablity in central African (ie Zaire/DNC under Mobutu) lead many musicians to a wealthy, receptive public in France. Still, why France?
// posted by ytiop @ 9:38 PM
Harry Belafonte's acceptance speech for the 2004 Global Exchange Human Rights Award
: "You can cage the singer, but not the song."
[ok, so it's three for Tuesday where world music is concerned ... the following is via rockandrap
mail list. Thanks to JCL, for the heads-up)
from from Charlie Gillett, UK DJ and author ....
Last week was a pivotal moment in the history of music, as the merger between the music distribution divisions of BMG and Sony was confirmed, and Apple launched its iTunes download site in Europe (specifically, UK, France & Germany).
This week's rumour is that EMI and Warner may now be allowed to consummate their long romance, reducing the number of major record companies to three. No major will easily forgive an artist whose an album sells fewer than 250,000 copies, which eliminates most world music artists, for whom such sales remain a tantalising dream without marketing budgets or access to mainstream radio and TV. Will Warnerâ€™s Nonesuch label, currently the home of Youssou N'Dour and David Byrne, as well as being the US licensee for World Circuit, continue to be indulged?
Will paid-for downloads be the answer, enabling artists without marketing clout or worldwide distribution to sell their wares alongside the famous names? Will world music enthusiasts finally get access to hard-to-find tracks they have heard on the radio? And even if such tracks are made available at iTunes, will those enthusiasts be satisfied with downloads to their iPod, instead of a proper CD album in its jewel case and sleeve? Right now, it's a hypothetical question, because there's not much world music to be found at the iTunes site.
Among the Americans in London to launch European iTunes was independent consultant Denzyl Ferguson, who runs a site of his own with the self-explanatory name, Artists Without a Label (www.awal.com). At Apple, Denzyl's role is to help to license music from repertoire owners, and I had been in email contact with him for some months, hoping that Apple would make world music a priority.
I had invited Denzyl to come to the radio studio in order to meet him, without originally intending for us to converse on air, but offered him the chance to answer a query raised listener Rob Hall on our website's Feedback forum. As one of the first visitors to the new iTunes site, Rob reported that several anomalous artists were listed under world music, including Abba, Bing Crosby and the Scots Guards. Denzyl explained that labels are responsible for the first classifications of their own repertoire, but errors can easily be corrected. Originally from South Africa, Denzyl was for a time the US manager for Miriam Makeba, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Gipsy Kings, and we could hardly have a better ally on the inside at Apple. But even he finds it hard to convince the decision-takers that world music matters.
Writing Opportunity Where the Palm Trees Meet the Pines
Call for contributions and Editorial Board announced
is a new web journal that explores the creative intersection between popular music and the written word - novels and short stories, plays and poetry, journalism and criticism.
The site, launched with the Spring 2004 edition, will carry essays, articles and reviews which cover that inter-cultural territory where rock stars publish short stories, novelists tap in to the energy of jazz, soul and hip hop, poets forge alliances with hippies, b-boys and rastas, sci-fi visionaries influence prog rock and cyber punk, Gothic voices inspire nu metal, and music critics and columnists eulogise and crucify.
Chapter&Verse plans to include pieces on Bob Dylan and the Last Poets, Gil Scott Heron and Patti Smith, Jack Kerouac and Tom Wolfe, Poppy Z Brite and Genesis P-Orridge, Jim Morrison and Jewel, Hanif Kureishi and Salman Rushdie, U2 and REM, Allen Ginsberg and Henry Rollins, Adrian Henri, John Cooper Clarke and Benjamin Zephaniah, Julie Burchill and Joolz Denby, William Gibson and Sam Shepard, Nick Hornby and Steve Earle, Douglas Coupland and Irvine Welsh, Nik Cohn and Greil Marcus, Nick Kent and the Nu Yoricans, to name only a few.
It will consider literary movements that have become entangled with popular musical forms - the Beats, the Angry Young Men, the Mersey Poets, the Blank Generation writers and those more recent voices of the Chemical Generation - and musical genres - from blues to reggae, country to punk, acid house to industrial, rap to drum'n'bass - that have dipped into the literary well for intellectual sustenance and emotional inspiration.
The journal will also contemplate those literary figures - from Shakespeare to Blake and the Romantic poets, Rimbaud and the Symbolist poets to Joyce, Orwell and Greene to Nelson Algren and John Dos Passos, Anthony Burgess and Joseph Heller to Hubert Selby, Jr and J.G.Ballard - who have inspired popular musicians to react and respond.
Chapter&Verse will attempt to understand better the interplay between the printed and spoken word and music-making, on stage and in the studio: Is a song lyric ever poetry? How do musicians utilise the literary in their creative lives? Is there such a thing as jazz literature? Is punk verse simply oxymoronic? Where do New Journalism and recent rock criticism overlap? And why do many latterday writers turn to pop culture as a source for their work?
But its main objective will be to broadly investigate the terrain, open up some windows of opportunity, for writers and commentators who want to say something about this fertile crossroads in the contemporary cultural landscape.
NOTES FOR CONTRIBUTORS
If Chapter&Verse is of interest to you and you have articles - or ideas for articles - that might fit the brief, do write to the Editor, Simon Warner, at email@example.com
Please note that the second issue of Chapter&Verse is scheduled for Autumn 2004. Potential contributors to that edition should be aware that there is June 30th, 2004 deadline for proposals which should come, initially, in the form of a 300 word abstract
. Proposed submissions will then be considered by members of the Editorial Board.
Articles may range in length from 3,000-6,000 words. Shorter contributions - reviews of relevant works in print, recordings or live events or comment pieces, for example - are also invited with a suggested length of 1,000-1,500 words. Do contact the journal if you have suggestions for items you might wish to cover.
The email address for Chapter and Verse has changed. Use: firstname.lastname@example.org
Periodicals Reading Room is open
Three items at the top of today's music news:
Article on NHHPC. The Hip-Hop Convention in Newark
examines the Message in the Music: "Hip-Hop has the power to make Japanese people want to learn to speak English," said Newark-based underground artist Lady Luck. "We haven't even seen how much power there is in hip-hop.")
The Pistol Packin' Padre
(A Mexican Parish Prist)
BBC News Online examines how a small gathering of hippies celebrating the summer solstice at Stonehenge evolved into the high point of the British counter-cultural calendar. (Why Thatcher took on the New Age Music Festival)
Cybersocializing: Visiting with old music friends vicariously and via the internet
Mary McCaslin's Round-Up
Slashdot gives music criticism the full-on tech treatment with Winning Critical Acclaim
(but don't forget, community memory, that the Robot Rock Critic was there lightyears ahead of the pack, or at least since 1999).
Get in the Ring
When rock stars attack
"I used to get excited when a music magazine mentioned my favorite band. Kids today get suspicious. I'm beginning to think I'm working in a dying profession: Thanks to the Internet, artists can communicate directly with their fans. Not only can artists spin their own agendas, they can rally the troops against reading anybody else's version of the truth."
Go ahead, laugh it off.
Saturday Reading Room Now Open
Postmodernism, postcolonialism, and more post-everything in
Century and a Half allows the space and freedom to deal with an historic war musically
Published June 2, 2004 (From Asia Business Week online)
Opium War in song
Checkpoint Theatre's Opiume revisits the Opium Wars in a small-scale opera featuring music by Mark Chan, reports Sangeetha Madhavan
THOUGH its subject matter may be a historical drug war spawned by 'epic' issues like the politics of trade and a clash of cultures, the current problems that chamber opera Opiume's creators Mark Chan and Casey Lim say they are facing are of a more down-to-earth kind - limited time and resources.
Hectic rehearsals: singers Paul Hughes, Judith Dodsworth and Kun Xie, and composer Mark Chan squeeze in some practice
The first-ever chamber opera commissioned by the Singapore Arts Festival (SAF) is a 100-minute long look at the machinations that brought about the 19th century Opium Wars between the Chinese and British, and their fallout on western colonialism and trade. Opiume is jointly produced and funded by local theatre company Checkpoint Theatre, SAF and the New Vision Festival, Hong Kong.
The final bill for the opera is $300,000, which is extremely modest for a production this size, Lim said. 'That it has come together on a limited budget is only because of the passion of all the people involved - and there are quite a few.'
Live music is provided by the string players of the T'ang Quartet, a trio of musicians from Hong Kong playing traditional Chinese instruments and Margie Tong (also from Hong Kong) on percussion.
Budget constraints apart, composer and musical director Chan also had time constraints - just over five months to write the libretto (lyrics) and the music before digital artiste and director Lim got involved.
During rehearsals in the run-up to the show opening tomorrow night, things were hectic: Lim put the Western opera singers - tenor Kun Xie, soprano Judith Dodsworth and baritone Paul Hughes from Australia - through their paces; the final touches were being put on the staging and the commodity most in demand was, in fact, nicotine.
Opiume (the extra 'e' is for effect, said Chan) addresses the dark episode of the wars and tries to infuse it with some modern-day perspective. Chan remarked that at the heart of the tale is the fact that there will always be more than one version of history. Emotive lines such as 'Every hero needs a victim to stand upon and make that song' seek to impress that upon audiences.
It started off on the drawing board as a theatre production, but Chan - who has scored musicals, theatre productions and a silent film - felt that the grand themes would suit an opera perfectly. Opiume is his first 'chamber' opera - meaning an opera on a smaller scale.
Chan has stayed true to his direction as an artiste who melds East and West and turned out a very melodic score with tunes that stick.
'I was aiming for a traditional Italian or even a German feel to the opera, rather than a modern, intellectual and dissonant piece,' said Chan about the six-parter with names like Intoxication, The Tango of Trade, Economics and Addiction.
The musicians have already given it their thumbs-up. 'You don't need to be a music or theatre person to understand this piece,' said Leslie Tan, cellist of the T'ang Quartet. 'We sometimes forget to play, because we're listening to it - it's quite amazing!'
Actress and Checkpoint's joint artistic director Claire Wong is the narrator. Main pen Huzir Sulaiman, however, is taking a backseat to joint artistic director Lim, who will provide images to supplement the emotionally charged action and music. The last arts festival commission the three collaborated on was Occupation two years ago.
'Opiume speaks to me on a very individual level, too, about who I am and where I am coming from,' said Lim.
'To me, the wars were about a misunderstanding of cultures. But I'm not deliberately focusing on the clashes, I'm celebrating the differences.'
Opiume makes its world premiere tomorrow night and runs until June 5, at Victoria Theatre. Tickets $22-$52 from Sistic, 6348 5555.
Balance in Reporting Sub Section:
Live Journal Poster
Prefers Artistic Interaction and Thinks Pillbox & Flaskaland Not Worth the Paper They're Written On
"also, in the few print articles i've read on the music blogosphere (mostly in the guardian), this group is referenced, along with a few other isolated, but respected music-critic blogs. i checked these out, and i thought they fucking sucked. however, if you want to see for yourself, i'll give you some addresses: ian penman's the pillbox
(the primary "other music blog"); and barbara flaska's flaskland
Day after Memorial Day Thoughts: Musicians, Celebrity, and Pass Words
A great eulogy takes us into the heart of a life that's been lost