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The place where I will regularly post thoughts and comments on any aspect of music.
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ethno

It is rumored that a very deep humming sound permeates the soundscape of western life. Where it comes from nobody knows. Some people point at the sewerage system under our streets. I don't hear the sound, luckily. Because people say that once you have noticed it, you never get rid of it. The rest of your life, you hear a maddening hum.

Learning theorists might be tempted to call the point where on starts hearing the hum a transformative learning experience. Never again will life be as it was. Your frame of reference - in this case your auditory frame of reference - has switched fundamentally.

I think I recently went through something like it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Voice of Holland

The Voice of Holland is over. Iris Kroes has won – a 19-year old harp-playing communication student of the university I happen to work for.  I hope the university will be proud of her and will congratulate her officially and publicly. Someone who has won a national competition with so many voters deserves that.
I have been watching the Voice of Holland on and off. And I liked it. It is, of course, a hugely orchestrated media event.  And the negative messages about the contracts the participants had to sign are serious, I think (although I think people over 18 should realize the value of their signature before they sign anything – that is the reason why I will not look at the children-version of the Voice of Holland, knowing that there is a huge psychological difference between people signing for themselves or parents signing on behalf of their children). And then some people think it a problem that this is a hugely commercial event. Yes, money is earned by some people, of course.
But I liked it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Amazing Invisibility of Dutch Indigenous Music

I owe you a sequel to an entry of some time ago.In that entry, "Defining World Music", I defined World music as "the kind of music that, due to statements on the possibility to identify its sound as connected to a certain specific geographic origin, offers itself as being referred to as exotic and sold as such in some part of the western(ized) world". (I already admitted it was a definition that needed some tidying up, yes, thank you.) And I stressed the exoticizing element in the definition, which makes it possible to for instance sell the English folk revival as World music in the rest of the world - and as a consequence in England as well.


As I wrote earlier, I am a reader of the World music magazine Songlines. I remember that in one of the editorials some time ago, the editor was amazed that there was no such thing as a noticeable Dutch folk music revival within the World music scene, whereas in England the third folk music revival is well on its way by now. Someone specialized in the English folk scene whom I asked whence this difference suggested that it might be explained by the different situations in the Netherlands and the UK - in the UK the English feel kind of marginalised, with the recent installment of Scottish parliament and things like that, so they badly need their proper music. The Dutch don't have comparable problems. Dutch music is ideologically useless, therefor it doesn't exist (the same used to be true of "Dutch identity", by the way, but Geert Wilders is capitalizing on that by now).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why do we want to become ever better?

One of the questions on my mind those days: as soon as people start to play an instrument they enter a domain in which it is taken for granted that they want to become better, and better, and better at it - better mainly meaning "higher, faster, louder". And they often start to judge the music they listen to in that terms. The power of music as a craft.

But why? Why is it so "natural" that people enter in this very specific relationship with music? Is it "natural"? Is it "cultural"? Is it both?

Tell me if you know an answer that says more than "that's the way human beings are".