Back in the early ’90′s while in college (hey! stop calculating.), I spent some of my electives on a world music course. It focused specifically on the music of Africa, India and Asia. Twice a week we’d sit in an auditorium and the instructor would parade out exotic looking instruments—tablas, zithers, djembe, mbiras and the like—for us to touch, hear and even play if we wanted, as he spoke to us of the rich cultural and musical history behind the instruments. At the end of the semester we each went home with a mix tape of related music that the professor created for us, which still resides somewhere in my stash of cherished cassette tapes. It was easily one of my favorite classes and in the end cemented an already whetted appetite for the music of other cultures. Flash forward to today and you’ll spot a continuity in a lot of my musical preferences—artists in the decidedly non-western genres, as well as in the artists and musicians who embrace/incorporate and/or celebrate “world” music (I use quotation marks here as there has long been a debate on using this term to describe anything other than western music as “world” music, as this implies a very narrow viewpoint that everything besides rock and pop is “world” and something other than what is “standard” or the norm). At the top of my list of preferences of those who celebrate(d) the vast spectrum of musical styles of our planet is of course Joe Strummer, king of musical heads (a term he used often), whose passion and embrace of “all things rap and ting” ultimately resulted in his peerless and genre-boundless London Calling BBC radio program.
For a while I tossed around the idea of starting a series here on the blog, perhaps a weekly feature on various genres of music around the world (a la Marianne’s Multi Kulti Pandora’s Vase, with an expanded range of genres and styles), but then I got to thinking that maybe it could become a great catalyst for another ongoing project that interested readers could get involved in the fun as well.
If you’ve made it this far into my post and I’m still holding your interest, you’re probably a great candidate for such an undertaking. It’s a project we’ll refer to henceforth as Musical Heads (big hat tip there as I cannot think of anything else more appropriate to call it than that) and it will work like this.
Select a specific region and/or genre of music or artist that you are passionate about that you’d like to explore and learn even more about. Something decidedly non-western or mainstream.
YES to broad topics such as “West African,” or “South American” or as refined as “Nigerian,” “cumbia,” “soca,” “bhangra” (etc. etc.) I’ll also welcome specific genres within western culture (blues, zydeco, ska, reggae, punk). Classical is also ok. You can also choose a single artist if you wish.
NO to mainstream pop or rock, and no top 40 please.
Before you begin, either leave a comment here on the blog, or send me an email at the usual shan at tuliptreestudios dot com to let me know what genre/topic you are proposing so we can avoid any overlap, I’d like each topic to be unique.
Once you have selected your topic, poke around, do some research, turn up some interesting information and background on your topic to share with everyone. Within your guest post include the following:
1) A few to several paragraphs of information and background on your genre/topic
2) Links to outside sources so that those who are interested can explore further
3) Two to five links to song clips (Youtube or Soundcloud) that will be included in the post
and here’s the biggie…
4) Create something in response to/inspired by your choice—a sketch or drawing, a photograph, written words (thoughts, poem or musings), sculpture, collage whatever, something visual of your creation we can include in the post.
I’d like to keep this open ended, especially considering the size of the project and the probability of it needing lots of time for you to prepare. It will be an ongoing project that I will continue you to roll out the posts as they come in. For now, to light a fire under your pants (not in your underpants) I’ll say “end of August” for the first wave.
As mentioned previously, and since this is a very involved project that will demand time from you, I would love to offer everyone who actually makes it through and submits to this project a little something in return. My little cheesy make believe scientific formula, P=ce³ is my short hand for the Perpetual Creative Energy component of the blog in which I either find donations or will provide myself, artwork, music (cds and other goodies from bands the blog champions), books and other items of interest to give in an effort to perpetuate the spewing forth of creative effort. (In short, I’m basically bribing you to play along with me!)
Right now I’m in the process of gathering items and I can say that I will be offering at least one copy of The Rough Guide World Music series (book) and have a possible donation from a friend in a rather good band that I love very much, and I will also be offering up one of my giclee prints. That’s three items so far. I’ll post them up as they come in (if you have anything to donate to this please get in touch!).
As for who gets what, I’ll work that out as we go, but I will say those who respond earliest to say they are participating will get dibs on first choices.
So . . . is there anyone out there willing to participate? I hope so. I will be doing at least one post if not more, hope you’ll jump in and share some of your unique musical passions. Let the game begin!