Another year, another WOMADelaide. Well, almost…
Baaba Maal on Stage 1 at the moment; I’m off to see Chapelier Fou (the Mad Hatter) on the Zoo Stage. Then Anda Union from Mongolia.
And back to whatever passes as reality tomorrow.
Hopefully … see you next year!
This Festival again reminds us of the great diversity of music that exists. This diversity is to be treasured.
Watching Le Trio Joubran’s workshop, they had us clapping in 10/8 rhythm: that’s a beat on 1, 6 and 7 of a count to 10. And then the vocals and oud came in on a familiar melody around that time signature.
Yet there’s a disturbing trend to impose a danceable 4/4 beat over that diversity. Yes, we can introduce people to cultures and styles – but only if we can dance to them with the limited rhythms that western pop and rock have accustomed us to. Unfortunately, this both reduces and robs the fantastic diversity to the lowest common denominator. That’s often referred to as the hegemony of western culture.
In thinking about this, I went back to some old texts: Fanon on Colonialism. I could start to see the parallels, as cultures are taken over and shaped to the form of the colonialist. And, as has been pointed out, this both reinforces our ignorant safety, but also has a profound effect on the colonised culture. For not only is the complex and diverse not marketable, but it is marginalised and changes within its own cultural context. It is devalued … and on the slope to vanishing. Oh, we might drop a sample into our set; we might throw in an exotic instrument for a moment, to tease and entice. As long as we can still dance to it. The insistent beat surges from the stage, from the DJ mix, from the car windows.
The diversity vanishes. Colonialism both economically and culturally appropriates, and turns brilliance to pap.
Yet, within that bleak landscape, the seeds of resistance remain. And the gleam through in many moments at WOMADelaide 2012.
The question is: do we want to hear them? Or do we want to side with the musical colonialism of the insistent and hegemonic beat?
We are saddened to hear the news here at WOMADelaide 2012 Live that Benjamin Escoriza, singer with Radio Tarifa, died a couple of days ago after a long illness. Long-time attenders at WOMADelaide will remember him here at the Festival in the early days. More information at: http://worldmusiccentral.org/2012/03/10/radio-tarifas-vocalist-benjamin-escoriza-dies/
On stage 2 at the moment is the Italian women’s choir La Voce Della Luna. Some 50-strong women from Melbourne, of Italian backgrounds – from all over Italy – singing songs of love, of protest, of migration, of the seasons. Various ages – up to 83 years young, various backgrounds and professions – united by a love of making music.
And cooking. Several of them presented in Taste the World yesterday and audience members got to sample home-style Italian cooking.
They all came across to Adelaide on the train, since to leave any at home would be to cause huge social ructions within the community. What a trip that must have been, as they sang their way across the country.
So glad they made it.
They’re led by Kavisha Mazzella (singing, talking, playing guitar and accordion), and accompanied by Phil Carroll on accordion and flute. It’s fantastic to see them here. A real community connection at WOMADelaide in 2012.
How come there’s always a group of people near me in the crowd, often right down the front, ignoring the music and talking loudly amongst themselves? No … not talking: SHOUTING! Screeching even! Why on earth are they at the gig? Sure, it’s a great time to socialise and catch up with friends, but it’s a large site. Plenty of spaces away from the music to exclaim about someone else’s daring do’s or latest conquests. Go away from the music and don’t distract my enjoyment. If you want to talk in the crowd, don’t do it near me!
Nicky Bomba from the Melbourne Ska Orchestra command the crowd to turn around and wait until the count of three to jump back around and to dance like you’ve never danced before! Who knew ska could rock!