My Tuesday lunch talk at the Berkman Center is now available for viewing/listening/downloading/etcccc
And I’m happy to report that, in fine Berkman tradition, the talk has already been blogged by some very astute observers of digital/internet culture:
- Jillian York offers an affirming precis here
- David Weinberger, author of Everything is Miscellaneous, live-blogged the talk in impressive detail, including the Q&A
- And I’m honored to get the EthanZ treatment over at his blog. As usual, Ethan does an excellent job distilling the central points of my talk, maybe even better than I did myself! I especially appreciate how he extends the conversation with some thoughts about the problems of hosting public culture on corporate platforms and with regard to music’s remarkable — perhaps even unique — mobility, and the implications thereof in the age of YouTube and global exchange. (I’m also grateful for this informative post on Dominican dembow he turned up!)
On the other hand, while I appreciate the genealogy, I must admit a certain unease about the parallels Ethan draws between my project and the preservationist ethnomusicology of the mid-20th-century. To be clear, while I’m sorry to see particular tracks and videos disappear, my concern is more with the sustainability of interactive structures for making and sharing music and dance, rather than with, say, making sure jerkin never dies. This is a crucial part of the distinction I seek to draw between what we might hear as a brave new world music, propelled by peer-level circulations, and the outmoded, hierarchically-curated sort of “world music” we still associate with that freighted misnomer.
Thanks again to all, and may the conversation continue!
6 thoughts on “Berkman Talk w/ Reax”
First off, thanks Wayne! Despite my love of your digital auditorium, to hear/watch you articulate these ideas does add a visceral quality that I may ultimately prefer. Plus, there are many 2010 best of lists pontificating around the net right now, but you’re certainly a 2010 best of on my platform.
I felt compelled to push on a couple of the questions that came up towards the end regarding a “full circle” of collaboration (it seemed that Ethan was asking a similar question just before). It seems to me, and I realize my vantage point is what it is, that this last year in particular was a year that saw underground club music really working to emulate the sounds of say cumbia, kwaito, or even tribal guarachero.
These examples may not have resonated with your audience, but I know I was struck by the amount of coverage that these sounds received—XLR8R will publish a sizeable feature on kwaito next month and obviously Jace’s work for Fader/National.
I realize coverage doesn’t always translate to great narration or adequate monetary compensation, both issues you took up with a lot boldness and honesty.
Ok, I’ve thrown my confetti in a direction that deserves it. Thank you for all your great work.
Hey, thanks, Stefan. Appreciate the kind words.
I quite agree about an influence at work, though I’m still finding myself a little challenged to locate really prominent examples for these sorts of “underground” sounds bubbling into the mainstream besides MIA. (As much as the magazines you mention are a crucial part of this transition — i.e., of breaking/crowning underground acts — I’d be hesitant to call them mainstream per se.) I’m pretty sure Pitbull has been messing with kuduro, but my search skills are at a loss on that one. And, of course, hip-hop’s whole post-millennial orientalist phase is, in some ways, an example of the sort of back-and-forth Ethan was asking about (if less grounded in “social media”).
And then there’s the other part of the question — what we might consider inter-underground, peer-level interactions. We were noting how jerkbow shows kids in the DR/NYC embracing the latest LA hip-hop steez and oldschool/proto-reggaeton at once, and yet, I still don’t see too much in terms of it going the other way: i.e., kids in LA bringing some dembow into their jerk sauce. (Though, I have seen jerkin kids try on some tektonik and shuffle steps, thanks to random/related walks on YouTube, no doubt.)
And, actually, that reminds me: perhaps the best example of this underground-to-mainstream circuit in the last year actually did involve Pitbull: the magically twisted tale of Watagatapitusberry! (Here’s a post I wrote on that back in March, with some germane follow-up thoughts here.)
thanks for the shout out. im glad your pingback led me to this blog. never checked it out before, but it is definitely relevant to my interests. i watched the berkman talk and enjoyed it. im especially interested in how your theories relate to the youth in the dominican republic and their musical aesthetic. ill check out the watagatapitusberry post. calle 13 would be another interesting group with carribbean roots to examine in terms of social media, particuarly in terms of their involvement in politics and social justice in relation to their music. keep up the good work. peace.
Really enjoyed this talk, liked the sounds in them jerkin videos, that ‘Steezin’ tune by Wes Nyle is proper music to break ankles to!