Modern Ancient African Music

Since the conversation continues about trad v modern in African music, and since we read something germane about it for class yesterday, and since I’m still tryna maintain that pdf-blog grind, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share another:

      >> Monson, Ingrid. “Riffs, Repetition, and Theories of Globalization.” Ethnomusicology 43,
      no. 1 (1999): 31-65.

Now, I don’t recommend the whole article; rather, I recommend skipping to p.52 and starting from there. Frankly, I find the part about globalization theory and riffs and Count Basie uncompelling and confusing (as did my students), but I do like the way that Monson zeroes in on some of the contradictions and challenges African musicians have faced working in the “world” industry.

Noting, for example, that Baaba Maal’s Firin in Fouta (1994) was received ambivalently by the “world music” market because of its incorporation of funk, reggae, hip-hop, “techno” (don’t know why Monson and Eyre call it that — sounds much more like house to me) and other Afrodiasporic/”Western” genres, Monson examines some of the reasons behind Maal’s aesthetic choices and why they fell flat for certain audiences:

Taking Baaba Maal’s words at face value, here’s some modern “ancient African music” — i.e., early 90s dancehall reggae. (I’d embed it here, but that’s been disabled by the rotting corpse known as universalmusicgroup — ah, industry so savvy.)

Actually, here it is via imeem —

[update 2/3/10: haha, so much for the imeem link, which disappeared after MySpace acquired and nuked the site; I guess no one wants people to hear Baaba Maal at w&w. sorry folks, you’ll have to hunt it down elsewhere.]