‘Art’ music in a cross-cultural context: The case of Africa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The artistic challenge, one I accept, is to use the tools of Western progress and communicate messages of African heritage. Francis Bebey The artistic challenge, one I accept, is to use the tools of Western progress and communicate messages of African heritage. Francis Bebey (Re)constructing African music In the interconnected global ethnoscape of the late-twentieth century, the aesthetics of ‘art’ and popular music alike increasingly bore the mark of hybridity and cultural crossover. It is a world in which once-secure musical boundaries became highly porous; in which transnational cultural exchanges produced an array of richly intersecting multicultural musical forms; indeed, a world in which ‘polystylism’ was itself considered a representative hallmark of a post-modern condition that challenged the very concepts of cultural authenticity and artistic originality. Collaborative avant-garde projects, like that between Philip Glass and the West African griot Foday Musa Suso, resulted in music that smoothly overlays discrete musical styles, in this case Glass’s distinctively minimalist additive rhythms (already indebted to Indian classical music) with the cyclic patterning of the kora. Elsewhere, European composers with minimalist leanings, like György Ligeti, extended the dense textures created by Central African polyphonic techniques by drawing out acoustically produced ‘inherent rhythms’ in the context of Western musical instruments. Relatedly, American postmodernists, like Mikel Rouse, wrote operas (such as Failing Kansas (1995) and Dennis Cleveland (1996)) that sound like creative transcriptions of the African rhythmic processes found in A. M. Jones’s Studies in African Music.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Music
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages584-614
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9781139054003
ISBN (Print)0521662567, 9780521662567
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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