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Music and globalisation

Makis Solomos
mai 2011Traduction de Joyce Shintani


1Music and globalisation. One can approach this topic in two ways. The first is to analyse the impact globalisation has on music in the economic sense. It is an approach currently advanced in mass media, in specialised economic studies, etc. But since Filigrane is a journal whose focus is on art, for the present issue we have chosen a second approach : to examine within music itself the ways it contributes to so-called globalisation ; to examine what the term means, etc. To date, there have been few inquiries of this nature, and for this reason we decided to make a call for contributions, particularly from young researchers or from established musicologists seeking to break new ground tackling this delicate topic. Moreover, our call for contributions detailed the terms of the debate as Filigrane seeks to conduct it :

Globalisation – one word, a simple word, that from now on is part of our daily life. Taken up as we are in the ordeal of short term economic and political events (and it is true, we have every reason for concern !), we have a tendency to forget that there are several types of globalisation, and that their impact is not restricted to the domain of art. Art, particularly music, has often worked toward a kind of universalism that current political terminology would characterise as ‘alter-globalisation’. From the fifties to the sixties, when the foundations of neoliberal Europe were being laid, many musicians were already dreaming of Japan or Indonesia. Today, the plunderers of sound and musical heritages have a strong counterbalance in musicians who, through métissage, truly take care to transmit not reified sonic images but authentic musical practice and thought. Without claiming to be exhaustive, this issue of Filigrane hopes to bear witness to the lively existence of music for which globalisation is not synonymous with uniformity. This call for contributions is open to propositions on every musical ‘genre’, whatever its geographical provenance. Of course, it is also open to original contributions analysing neoliberal globalisation and its consequences for music.

2The propositions that we retained cover a considerable number of fields. They also point the way to future analyses that Filigrane will soon develop through the organisation of an international colloquium (see the last pages of this issues and the website www.revue-filigrane.org).

3The first four articles treat contemporary music. The first author is himself a child of globalisation. Alexandre Lunsqui is a young Brazilian composer who lives in New York and studied with French composer Tristan Murail. His article analyses the roots of globalisation, then turns to the question of métissage and exchanges between music cultures. As example, he explores the use of the berimbau, an Afro-Brazilian instrument, in contemporary music. The next article is by Marie-Hélène Bernard who writes here as musicologist, but she is also a composer. Through her article the reader will discover the fascinating adventure of the Chinese composer generation of the ‘cultural revolution’, who have swarmed out onto the international scene. From Chen Zhen, a Chinese visual artist of the same generation, the author borrows three concepts with which she analyses their course : “residence, resonance, resistance”. The short article that follows is by a Czech composer who just finished his studies at the Paris Conservatory (CNSMD), Ondrej Adámek. It could be called the ‘manifesto’ of a young composer who loves borrowing elements from various geographic sonic horizons, but who is, at the same time, aware of the dangers of sonic homogenisation. Finally, in the last article of the first section, the young musicologist Sara Bourgenot studies the collaboration between a young composer of contemporary music, André Serre-Milan, and a West African musician, Yé Lassina Coulibaly. One could say that this type of musical creation inaugurates a new stage of ‘alter-globalisation’ in the history of contemporary music – Xenakis paid abstract homage to Africa in his piece Okho, and Steve Reich ‘assimilated’ Africa in Drumming, but in the present collaboration we witness total collaboration.

4The second section has three texts dedicated to Arabic music. In his article, Amine Beyhom takes a critical look at our call for contributions that invited contributions on ‘authentic’ métissages. He asks, “What are the criteria of authenticity ?” This article analyses the “dynamic pairs modernism/tradition and globalisation/identity using new music examples taken from the Near East, particularly from Lebanon, a spearhead of syncretism in the region”. The author writes here as musicologist, but readers are invited to listen to him as a musician in his productions that blend jazz and Arabic music. The following article is by Nidaa Abou Mrad, who is also musicologist and musician. (As a musician he is known for his reconstructions of pieces from the Abbasid period that use alphabetic notation.) In this article he traces the history of crisscrossing and exchange between the West and the Near East, from 1000 to 1932 (date of the famous Congress of Arabic Music in Cairo). Let us say outright that this article is diametrically opposed to Filigrane’s position, because it defends the notion that today, exchange between these two musical-cultural worlds can only occur if they return to their traditions. Nevertheless, it is a position represented in current debate, and for this reason we include it here. The section is concluded with an article by the young researcher Mohamed-Ali Kammoun, who elucidates the aesthetic stakes of the métissage between jazz and Arab music in Tunisia. For this task, he employs statistics from a survey as well as musical analyses.

5The third section is opened with an article by ethnomusicologist Jacques Bouët, who is interested in preserving local cultures. He particularly questions the validity of practices which nullify the function of local culture, for example, by transforming their music into concert music. He remarks, “On the whole, the ethnomusicologist’s patient monographic work and its retransmission to local populations represent a more realistic hope of preservation than borrowing or transplantation. In effect, if the populations concerned agree to carry on the work, it can trigger a process of lasting revival.” The following article by the young ethnomusicologist Bruno Messina, “The Third Music”, takes another track. The author refuses to take part in the discourse that bemoans the loss of ‘authenticity’ in uniform music productions resulting from globalisation, for, according to him, this would incur the danger of identity withdrawal. Resolutely optimistic, he finds that music – culture – knows what it takes to survive, and it can re-establish itself endlessly outside of the mechanisms within musical domination. The section concludes with a piece by the young researcher Laurent Denave who investigates the astonishing worldwide expansion of gamelan music since the seventies. What is the cause of this, he inquires, examining the ideological aspect in particular. His answer, which merits more nuances, is captivating : the expansion is linked to the ‘conservative revolution’ in the USA, which has appropriated so-called multicultural education for its own ends.

6The two last articles by musicologist Christian Corre and the young researcher Eve-Norah Pauset open novel paths of investigation. Christian Corre investigates the appellation (contrôlée ?) of world music. Through this term, he seeks to interrogate “some hitherto unprecedented forms of involvement between musical and (geo)political fields, between post modern myths and recent realities (humanitarian, technological). Here, he would situate the birth of a new ‘world symbol’ (in the sense of Eugène Fink), to which only the medium of music can give substance.” Eve-Norah Pauset, for her part, undertakes a critical analysis of the text adopted by the thirty-third UNESCO general conference, the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.


Makis Solomos, «Music and globalisation», Filigrane. Musique, esthétique, sciences, société. [En ligne], Numéros de la revue, Musique et globalisation, mis à  jour le : 27/05/2011, URL : https://revues.mshparisnord.fr:443/filigrane/index.php?id=155.


Makis SolomosJoyce Shintani