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There is no such thing as World Music

March 4, 2014

“There is no such thing as world music, just music recorded at different times and places, for different audiences in different countries.”

Chris Menist, The Wire, March 2014.

We have occasionally been accused of making “world music”. I have to admit, we even (to this day) sometimes tag or keyword our music with the term just so it might be picked up by searches in relevant websites. I guess it’s understandable that we get tagged by others with the term. We use rhythms, scales and sometimes tunings that are not American or from the UK, hence they are from “the world”, as if the music rooted in UK/US traditions is somehow superior and all other traditions can be lumped clumsily together. There are, in fact, far more rhythmic and melodic riches in the rest of the world.

We heard many of these intriguing rhythms, these evocative scales and tunings, here in London. It’s a city full of people from all over the planet and, back in the day, there were record shops that carried all kinds of music, there was radio that hadn’t yet been destroyed by big-three-label hegemonic uniform pointless blandness, and anyone with their ears open would hear a whole range of music. The record shops may have died and broadcast radio had become utterly unlistenable but there is more, diverse, music than ever spilling out of homes and shops and readily available on the interweb.

Which leaves us mystified as to why so many musicians are still so unbelievably narrow in their musical aspirations. Why do they want to sound exactly like some household-name R&B, pop, rock or metal act? Why do so few try to find a sound of their own, exploring lesser used rhythms, different scales and tuning systems, more experimental song structures?

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Our label, Broken Drum Records, is our vehicle for having some fun making music, pushing the boundaries of our own limitations, bringing in influences from a plethora of sources, creating something that is not “world music” but is from our home Croydon, here in South London.

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CENM_8

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