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Persistence and revival. Notes on contemporary music pan-genre

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Carolina Chocolate DropsThe global landscape of the neo-traditional music offers interesting examples of stylistic variety. And today artists are free to experiment and cross over between genres, helped by an antipathy – which they share with critics – to the structural and formal rigidity of the record business: the famous categories, labels. That is, the system of differentiation of the music market, though wich we organize our choices in the magma of the contemporary music proposals.

This is obviously a construction that has nothing to do with the creative process. It is a complex invention of the market. And although it may stiffen the research and probably creativity – which takes place in the complex relationship between the individual and the collective sphere – is far from what a musician perceives or identifies as representative of their own thoughts and feelings. In practical terms, it shows the fluctuation of the contemporary musical styles, whose main feature is undoubtedly the overlapping, more or less emphasized, that takes pride in almost every genre: rock, pop, british and american folk. And finally, world music, the kind that celebrates the contamination to such an extent that it becomes the element that stands out more than any other.

Two objections. The first is that the category of world music is self-cancels and folds back on itself. In fact, there are so many world musics, worldwide and in all forms, that it makes no sense to talk about music category. At least not in terms understood in the music industry. Now, and thankfully, the contradictions that have emerged from the debate on the processes of commodification of popular music, are known not only to scholars: what principle, if not to a simplification of an already complex frame founded on syncretism, a record by Almamegretta can represent the same musical category of a disc by Macina of Gastone Petrucci, the Tenores di Bitti, or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan?

Second objection: duplication and revival of stylistic elements have always existed. The process is not new and has deep roots in the history of Western music. The Italian ethnomusicologist Diego Carpitella in the first half of the seventies noted that the phenomenon of the revival of popular music, in addition to being cross and affect more musical cultures, represented a new level of attention that Western composers have always been on ethnic and folk music.

Today there is a prominent interest that pushes the musicians to identify a wider range of combinations. For example in the United States – probably picking up the legacy of the giants of the international music scene as Dylan (which was formed in the musically minimal landscape of the sixties acoustic and protest folk, and then explore and incorporate gospel, country, blues , rock, pop) – the protagonists of the musical avant-garde contemporary easily shift from one genre to another. For this reason, in relation to the static nature of certain categories, the scene that we are facing is configured as radical and contradictory. And many of the most interesting projects are developed in the wake of traditional repertoire and genres: Lumineers, Punch Brothers, Avett Brothers, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Milk Cartoon Kids.

This, in addition to be a sign of intellectual and artistic openness, and a profound musical culture, does not put so much the problem of definitions (which, as it was for world music, wear out on their own), but rather suggests to reorganize the tools which we use to analyze the musical productions and the framework within which they develop.

 

Autore: Daniele Cestellini

Daniele Cestellini ha scritto 752 articoli.



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  • 21 November 2018Strumenti&Musica Festival
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