Local Beats and Global Sounds

By Molly Laubernds. Ms. Laubernds is a student in Denise Rotavera-Krain’s FYS Class: Questions of Identity Through World Music

The article Transnational Musics and Cultural Authenticity: Between Global Beats and Local Sounds by Hugh Lovatt, analyzes the effects of globalization and cultural developments through world music in great detail. Music is starting to play a larger role in society with the development of different media outlets and the ability to travel more often. This essay will show how cultural brokers attempt to homoginize local music through de-localization as well as how local markets try to heterogenize music through cultural localization. I think that the outcome is a hybrid type of music that incorporates different types of Western sounds as well as local sound clips.

With the spread of Western music throughout different cultures came the incorporation of local music into Western style songs. Many up and coming Eastern artists have recently appeared in performances alongside American artists and bands. “Western singer Cheb Mami provided backing vocals in Sting’s ‘Desert Rose,’” he was given this opportunity because many Western artists wanted to dominate, localize, and naturalize their own music. With the development of the mixed and hybrid music came the development of mixed albums. The albums were created to reach the sub-genres within the different types of music thus allowing more diversity for the buyer.  Although albums claim to be becoming more diverse, with the development of Western cultural songs the local tunes are losing their roots. No longer is Sufi music authentic or spiritual.

With the development of media outlets the small venues that Sufi performances once took place in were a thing of the past. Now Sufi music is performed in large concert theatres across the world. Western behaviors have been imposed on their culture and have taken out the spiritual aspect of Sufi music in order to make a profit. Western consumers are “presented with the complete commidification of musical performances for the benefit of Western consumption,” which means that in order to make a greater profit Sufi ensembles are willing to compromise spiritual and historical values. Although Sufi music is losing their originality there has been a large development of world fushion music that has lead to an intense hybridization of music. The new hybrid mixes provide a unique sound and a new transnational identity.

With further development of the hybrid music also comes considerable difficulty from a cultural stand point when blending the different styles together. A once banned rap culture is now  amongst the most popular three genres listened and performed by Arab youth. “This shift in musical tastes is widely seen as marking the first time that the Middle-East youths no longer consume the same music as older generations,” this is very true however, extremly popular local artists still remain a source of inspiration for youth today. It is wrong to say that the different musical sides East/West are diverging when in fact the two are slowly converging.

I think that the outcome of the fushion of Eastern and Western music is a hybrid type of music that incorporates different types of Western sounds as well as local sound clips. Because of the varying sounds and music styles many different people from different age groups, cultural status, and gender are all able to relate to the new music in some way. I believe that this co-development of the two styles of music is a positive thing that is helping to merge the divide between the two cultures.