6 Thoughts on “World Music”

And why this term should die:

  1. The term “World Music” plays into the idea that “Music” is a capitalist industry that has its focus in English-speaking, Western countries. Anything that is not mainly concerned with music as a corporate field is therefore secondary, i.e. “World Music”.
  2. This “othering” of a large portion of music creates a hierarchy where it is implied that the majority of the world cannot live up to a standard created by a small minority of the world. It simultaneously creates the illusion that this minority is actually the majority, as it holds all the power.
  3. Not only does othering create a false hierarchy, it is also a relic of imperialism. It makes it seem as though in order to live up to this supposed standard, music has to fit a mould in order to make it marketable and consumable for a large audience. That mould is Western, English (pop) music.
  4. The idea of “World Music” as an umbrella term is downright offensive as it groups together genres that have their origin in long, diverse cultural histories from Spanish Flamenco to Japanese Gagaku music, from Celtic Folk to Jamaican Dancehall. Yet they are lumped together as if they are the same thing.
  5. The term “World Music” downplays any genre that falls under it, as if they are niche markets with tiny audiences. Meanwhile a large portion of its musicians have many fans internationally. Think Buena Vista Social Club, Manu Chao, William Onyeabor, Paolo Conte, Omar Souleyman, don’t even get me started on the many stars in genres like K-pop.
  6. The terms “World Music” creates a black and white distinction where there is none. Music is a tradition of inspiring, borrowing, sampling, covering. Any music always exists in a framework, but this framework does not have clear-cut borders based on geography. In this sense all music is worldly music and therefore no music can be distinctly categorised as “World Music”.
  1. Heej sket, Nou nou… ferme mening. Is “westerse muziek” dan ook niet een generalisatie? En hoe zit het dan met fusion? Waar plaatsen we dat op de schaal van niet-ok? En dankzij de wereldmuziek uitgaves is wel een brug geslagen, zonder uitbuiting… Ik vind het lastig om daar zo 1 2 3 iets van te vinden…. ??

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    1. In deze context is world music een concept dat wordt gebruikt voor alles wat niet uit een groot Engelstalig land komt, het is een beetje een brainfart van gisteravond en niet erg genuanceerd, het is een beginpunt voor een discussie.



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