Global World Music – World Music Fusion

2018.02.05. 17:18

Ethnomusicology also kept an elitist distance from popular musical genres for a long time, but parallel to the global rise of world music, ethnomusicologists are now showing more interest in the forays of ethnic music into popular musical genres.  

In the 1980s, music that was based on traditional folk music and mixed with the newest musical genres, including pop, Afro Latin and funk, i.e. fusion music, could not be categorized as pop or rock in record stores, so a new label was needed to distinguish them and make these artists more visible. This is how the term world music was born. Its interesting trait is how it merges various musical genres, artists and instruments. Electronic musical genres started to dominate the global music scene in the early 2000s, global fusion music entered into a new era. Aki Nawaz, a Pakistani immigrant living in Great Britain, created the Nation Records record label with artists from every corner of the world sharing similar tastes in music. England’s Transglobal Underground builds on South African Zulu traditions, Indian transcendental sitar music and the wonder- ful singing voice of Egyptian singer Natasha Atlas.

The cherry on top was the recording of the song Rude Buddah with cimbalom player Kálmán Balogh and authentic Gypsy musician István Nagy in Budapest in the mid-1990s, creating a truly global style of fusion. Since then, musical encounters have spanned all continents. Canada’s Bob Brozman has made records with musicians from Papua New Guinea, the Pacific islands, spanning genres from African Mali blues to Japan’s Okinawan traditional music. All of these lend a fantastic new sound to music. World music as a genre is interesting because it transmits the music of the most unknown people into the global ether – such as the music of the Central American Garifuna, an ethnic group whose language had come to the brink of extinction, and music helped them regain their cultural identity and future through their past. In addition, the fusional merging of various musical styles gives rise to unique and special new sounds that propel songs to the top of hit lists. The world of fusion is important in the realm of music and gastronomy because it showcases our world’s past, building on its traditions while shaping the taste of the future. We can nd examples of fusion in architecture, art, fashion and the economy, and these encounters create something entirely new. The role of technology and fusion in the world of networks is becoming increasingly important.

WOMEX, the most prominent world music expo, was held in Copenhagen in 2011 and featured Hungary at the opening event, dubbed Hungarian Heartbeats. Before the event, I had the honor of giving a keynote address. In my speech, I emphasized the importance of world music fusion because what happens in the world music scene is what will happen within the economy in two or three years. Cooperation between companies and countries, the search for new paths, new cooperation opportunities, new players, and new styles at the dawn of a special geomoment will be inevitable.

Location and cities play a particular role in world music. The major European metropolises – London, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin – are meeting points and melting pots for diverse ethnicities, where numerous musical in uences prevail and are reborn. The other main concept of the WOMEX musical opening event in Copenhagen was the even greater role of places in the wake of musical rebirths, which gains a new meaning enriched by the past and adapted to the trends of the 21st century. Hungary and the Carpathian Basin are also important from a geopolitical perspective because they are located at the Western gate of the New Silk Road, at the Eastern gate of the region building on the medium-sized technological rms of Baden-Wür emberg, Bavaria and Lombardy, and at the middle of the Roman Amber Road that today hosts the centers of the Central European auto industry. Of course, just like in music, these regions, countries, places and formations are only able to retain their unique characters if they preserve their tradition and build on their own resources.

Ben Mandelson, the most prominent world music guru, cooperates as a musical producer in the most exciting musical publications. Mandelson has said that his current favorite world music productions come from two countries, based on their quality of building from such great depths: one of them is South Korea (the Into the Light series is a compilation of the most exciting South Korean music) and the other is Hungary. The new world music formations building on Hungarian ethnic music include the violin of Gypsy band leaders, reinterpreted and adapted to guitar band leaders, creating surprising world-class music from traditional Transylva- nian music originating from the town of Szék. Likewise, the traditions of cimbalom have been adapted to the 21st century by the unrivaled Miklós Lukács–Kálmán Balogh Cimbalom Duo, garnering numerous world music awards recently.