Rethinking Music Globalization
Rethinking Music Globalization: From Exoticism to Critical Participation
In this keynote speech, I will explore the phenomenon of globalization and its distinctive impact on music in the present era. The perspective I outline here will extend upon our discussions from the previous conference (2014), as well as arguments in the recent book Theory and Method in Historical Ethnomusicology. Globalization – the increasingly rapid exchange of people, products and ideas across the world – arguably affects many aspects of music, and there is especially strong evidence of its impact via digital technologies, from mp3 files to YouTube and MOOCs. Such concepts as “glocalization” and “cultural omnivorousness” have arisen as ways of understanding the changing role of creative industries and social media at all stages of music production and consumption, as individual artists negotiate between local practices and cosmopolitan trends. I argue that humanity has recently exited a period of digital prehistory to enter a phase of data saturation caused by the normalization of mass surveillance. This fundamental shift causes conditions that may be called “glocalimbodied,” meaning that local and global forces converge to “brand” the identities of individual actors suspended within a social structure profoundly shaped by participatory media. Musicians anywhere, working within any genre, can relatively instantly (and affordably) access global musical sounds and knowledge, and share their own contributions worldwide via the Internet. Malleable musical identities and aesthetics of authenticity – situated on a continuum from strict tradition to pioneering innovation – produce both a blurring and reactionary institutionalization of local music genres and historical styles. Such conditions call for systematic consideration of how musicians, scholars and policy-makers may evaluate projects that contribute to a cosmopolitan idiom, advance ideological and commercial agendas, or foster appreciation of the need for revitalization and sustenance of cultural heritage.