World Music

Historical files & updates

As I did last year for the Early Music FAQ, I believe that it is time to make some trends in this space explicit, and to declare that the earlier writeups are now historical documents, and will no longer be updated.

Consequently, I am adding a separate page for recent CDs, where new recordings I want to feature (from July 2015 on) will be listed.

From my perspective, this change accomplishes two things: First of all, it makes it easier for me to add new recordings here. I no longer have to consider rewriting a previous discussion, or indeed, reconfiguring how I have this music organized. This last aspect is quite tangible, in terms of the way it can limit my own thoughts, and so I hope to be more open to recordings which do not fit into my previous scheme, perhaps even because they do not fit that scheme. The scheme itself was developed in the early 1990s, and reflected my interests at the time, with some evolution over the past twenty-four years. Therefore, although it did serve to organize some thoughts & material, its nature as a scheme — a set of "headings" one might say — should not be taken as a structural factor for the consideration of either new music, or indeed old music. This sort of structural implication (sometimes called reification) is a danger with any such scheme, to be balanced against an effort at clarity of presentation. As the reader can readily observe, I continue to indulge some classifications on this site, although I want to explicitly acknowledge their limitations.

That said, the genre of "world music" itself is just such a classificatory scheme, and so vulnerable to reification as well. In this case, I have long taken a traditional orientation in this portion of the site, leaving more modern (e.g. "fusion") efforts aside entirely, or to appear elsewhere. In recent years, with my return to a focus on contemporary music-making, particularly in the jazz or improvised arena, various contributions by world traditional music appear in that space. These are "not traditional" then, although that is another classification that I want to blur. In future, any discussion of new recordings appearing in this space (beyond mere listing of facts) will appear there, interspersed with various other efforts in contemporary improvisation, the majority of which come from the United States & Europe. In short, I want to embrace cross-fertilization, and much like the trend referenced above (of not updating the listings), I want to acknowledge what occurs in this area. So starting this month, "world music" discussions will occasionally appear more explicitly in the "jazz" space. Moreover, I will not be confined to discussing only items that fit the earlier framework of this particular space.

The other change is in declaring the writeups here to be historical themselves. My original intention was to keep these documents continually updated, a project I more or less managed for a number of years. In my youth, such a project not only seemed feasible, but seemed to be one of the best new features of internet publishing: Constant updates. After twenty-four years, however, it is time to mark my past schemes & conceptions as of the past, and let the documents stand as-is for future consultation. If errors are discovered, I will make corrections (and, for instance, I recently made a clarification in the Carnatic lyrics area), but such changes should be minimal. Albums that fit some overall conception of this portion of the site will now be added only to the new page referenced above, whereas others will be discussed (perhaps) over in my "jazz" discussions. This change represents a simplification from my own perspective, and will hopefully result in more discussion of world music on the site overall, i.e. more recognition of it elsewhere, as well as more creativity in such discussion.

Finally, one reason for the very few additions to this part of the site in recent years has been changes in the music business. Fewer "traditional world" albums appear (and likely less of such music-making is done), and I am also less likely to learn of such endeavors. No doubt, some people's productions appear only on commercial (or non-commercial?) streaming sites, etc. As I've discussed elsewhere, I have much distaste for the current generation of internet companies, and so I avoid that arena. Consequently, if readers believe something deserves my attention, I hope that they will inform me. Some people already do that, so thank you. Thus far, I have been reluctant to discuss more archival material in this area, but perhaps the current change will change that too. We'll see.

Thank you to the many readers & contributors over the years. I hope the present change will actually reinvigorate my participation in this area, and lead to new directions.

To recent CD additions.

To World Music front page.

Todd M. McComb
6 July 2015