27.6-1.7.2011 // Multiple Modernities between Pop and Avant-Garde - Plenary Speech at 16th IASPM Biennial International Conference, in Grahamstown, South Africa. By Thomas Burkhalter
Modernity and Zeitgeist in music is increasingly produced in multiple centres. Musicians in Africa, Asia and Latin America use the new possibilities our digitized, transnational and urbanised world offers, and create artistic positions between pop culture and art music. On one side of the extreme we find styles like Kuduro from Luanda, and Baile Funk from Rio de Janeiro that some scholars, journalists and bloggers call World Music 2.0, Global Ghettotech, Ghettopop, Cosmopop or Ghettorave. In its transnational setting these styles can be read to a certain extent as an updated version of what Eshun and Goodman call Afro-Futurism (Eshun, 1999; Goodman, 2010). On the other extreme we find artists working with Abstract Noise, Free Improvisation, Musique Concrète and Glitch. These artists do deal with concepts of Anti-Orientalism and Alternative-Modernity, and they are as close to Futurism as to Afro-Futurism. These artists challenge the Euro- and US-centric views towards innovation in music. Their music speaks from a specific, non-Eurocentric position. It does not come with artistic or ideological Manifestos. It is often unstable, and not always clear in its focus. It is on the search to find transnational artistic positions beyond exoticism, consumerism, and propaganda. This paper is part of a 3 years multi-disciplinary project I’m working on with the Zurich University of the Arts. The project intends to find research methods that allow us to write detailed multi-sited ethnographies of fast changing musical phenomena.
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