Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Nomas Aqui ... Joshing Con Usted ... (listening to Whipped Cream & Other Delights)

Aqui ... mira ... here's an interesting 2003 interview with Josh Kun, Asst. Professor de Ingles at UC Riverside ... he speaks about musica crossing boundaries vs. marketa ownership of this cultura good ... some geo-politikos of musica ...

Interview With Victoria Cuellar, Angeline Shaka, and Josh KunHemispheric Institute of Peformance and Politics, Spectacles of Religiosity, NYU, July 19, 2003

Vicki: A lot of music is brought over to the U.S. and packaged as Mexican, or Chilean or African. Can a group of people, an ethnic group, or a nation claim or can it claim ownership to a music from- legally or theoretically?

Josh: […] It really depends on the case- not to be evasive about it ­ but I think there are moments when ones claims of ownership over his/her or any other performance or cultural act is strategic and necessary. For example, in the mass marketing of world music, the importance of claiming Mexican or claiming Chilean, within this theme of world Music is crucial, because world music’s job is to completely despecify where music comes from in order to package it to U.S. consumers into some sort of appealing exotic commodity; so that the specification in some cases is really important.

No, this isn’t world music, this doesn’t belong to the world…universal language […] but in fact it comes from a specific country, more importantly, a specific region, a specific neighborhood, a specific block and a specific stylistic place in history.That said, the flipside of that is that ownership can also overlook and eradicate the cultural realities of music’s history. So that when you talk about a certain category of music that can be categorized as Mexican when in fact it’s an indigenous Indian music- and there is a long history and debate between the national category and the ethnic cultural category of the Indian and the way that the identity of the Mexican and particularly the Mexican mestizo has eradicated the identity of the indio in the name of the Mexicans, so then it becomes important to say no, it’s not Mexican it’s Indian. So, these battles go on all the time.

Here is one example that ties into this: Herbie Mann, who is jazz flautist died about two or three weeks ago, was well known for mixing jazz, and African American blues with music from Brazil, Africa, Japan, and the Middle East. He was pretty much known as one of jazz’s most important figures in creating cross cultures. Herbie Mann’s white, he is Jewish born Herbert Solomon and when he died The New York Times ran this obit that was very interesting about him that basically positioned his whole life as a series of cultural crossings. Right before he died he recorded an album called Eastern European Roots. The Times quoted Mann as saying: “This is the real me. Finally I’ve come back to what I really am.” Yet he was from Brooklyn and it raises these great questions. Is the real him these roots that he can romanticize and come back to that he owns? This is Mann: Eastern European and Jewish. Or is it Brazil and Japan, the Middle East all these places he clearly felt the need to go and that he clearly felt the desire to go to - why isn’t that him as well? And why doesn’t he own that as much as he owns this other category? […]

Toni Morrison has this great line about music. She says: “It slaps and it embraces:” just when you think you get it, it kicks you in the ass. It does what it’s not supposed to; just when you think you’ve mastered it, you learn something. And this happens to me as a scholar and writer. I write music all the time, when I think all right I’ve theorized this piece of music to death, it comes from this and this and that, someone will say, “yeah but did you know that chord is actually African?” And I’ll say, “okay”, and I’ll go and I’ll trace the history of that chord and in fact, that chord is actually from Southern Spain that made its way down into Central Africa. And in southern Spain it was this and this and this. A lot of what I try to do in my work instead of focusing questions of ownership as essences or as self evident modes to use the space of music itself to focus on the migrations within it to talk about what happens inside a song how you can get inside an album, or a song or a few musical moments and from within that see the maps that are there. Instead of paying attention to the fixed product or the essence, pay attention to the travels. To all the crossings that begin to happen in the song. That’s how I tend to think musically and see any claim in ownership as perhaps necessary, but always as a strategic move, always as a constructed move. […]

Let’s remember where the roots of the stuff are. It becomes important to make sure that the previous mixtures or the previous histories of what we have now should not be forgotten. Because it’s very easy in the marketplace- there’s no history- no one likes to be an historian in the space of the pop marketplace- it’s all about the contemporary, it’s all about the right now, it’s instant- you know what is this what does it mean to the future? That’s what the New York Times – the L.A. Times likes to put a spin on it. They’re not interested in the history they’re not interested in the facts they’re interested in the trends. […] And so, there is a kind of crisis of history in the way that music is talked about in the popular imagination. So it is important to always sort of balance the- all right, these mixtures are here, they’re everywhere, no question this is the kind of manic multi-culture we’re all living in BUT lets not forget that when you’re buying- if a suburban white kid in Ohio is buying an N’Sync record that they know where this record comes from.

VC: Do you think there is ever a point where you can no longer trace these roots back? Where it becomes this whole new thing and it’s just really hard to pick apart…?

JK: […] There will always be someone that can trace it back, can the average listener always do that – should the average listener always do that? I’m not an advocating for that. I think you should enjoy music how you want to enjoy music. You should get what you want out of it. But as a critic I feel like that’s my job. And that’ s all I can speak about. When I write about a piece of music I will always try, before I write about it, historicize it in my head; trace its history. Create the maps, create the lineage, and then decide what to do with it. I might ignore it or I might make it all about that. But I think the critics role while it is the same as the fan’s role in the sense that you’re suppose to listen, you’re suppose to enjoy, you’re suppose to get off on it feel it. Great. But the critic is then a critic for one reason ok then you have to take a step back and look at it critically. […]

VC: […] You did a really good job of giving us a good example of the space of Tijuana, the sounds, the smells, the attitudes- what’s going on there. What happens when you bring something like Nortec- fusion music, and bring it to Carnegie Hall and people buy expensive tickets, and it’s a formal setting. What happens when you change that dynamic of audience or space?

JK: It [Nortec Collective's music*] changes. It’s very different. When they started they were playing small clubs. They were playing a lot of museum gallery shows wherever they could play because there weren’t a lot of spaces. Kids were showing up they were like rave parties basically. Mainly Tijuana kids although there were a lot of San Diego kids there as well, and it was very much a vocal audience to whom this music was speaking to like an anthem in the way that [Nirvana’s] “Smells Like Teen Spirit” galvanized a generation. Particularly a demographic U.S., that’s exactly what their music was doing- best corollary.

So, when it comes to Carnegie Hall what happens? Well, it’s not the same audience, it’s not Tijuana, it’s not in an historic venue that means something to the people of the city, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not as powerful and moving it just has a different register. […] So, to answer the original question does it change? Absolutely. I feel like that’s its job: to go out there and play to different audiences to create different spaces. What they’re doing for PR for Tijuana is incredible. People are for the first time thinking of Tijuana when they hear Nortec as a modern city. Anybody who knows the city knows that not only is it modern but it’s post-modern before anyone knew what post-modern was. And still it’s thought of as a dusty unpaved little third world town, and it’s not. So Nortec is the first thing that has broken internationally and people are like “Wow! This is so modern, so contemporary it comes from where? They have this there? Ya’ll have electricity?” There’s that kind of a stereotype that needs to be broken down. I think they’ve done a lot of work in terms of changing the perception of their city. It’s certainly not what motivates them it’s something that makes them very happy, to be able to say look this is where we come from and this is us. [...]

VC: So is it important to contextualize the performance or the music before it happens or do you think people actually get a sense of Tijuana?

JK: […]I think context really helps with them. But not knowing it doesn’t limit your ability to appreciate and enjoy their music. That’s also why they work. I’ve heard their stuff in Urban Outfitters playing because it sounds good. […] It’s good music and that in the end is one of the most important things. Just like anyone else the context is important but it’s only important because the music is that good.

*Nortec Collective is a music group based out of Tiujana, Mexico that blends traditional Mexican music with electronica.

And for you VENTURE RAZA KAPITALISTAS ... the marketa is open to trademark the entire cholo vocabulary of "Q-VO" and "CHALE" plus "CHECK IT OUT" and the infamous "PINCHE GUEY" ...

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