“Hey Jarrod, you like world music right? Check out this Mongolian band called 13th Bell”. I received this text a few weeks ago and was quite piqued by their choice of words. “World music”, what exactly is that? More often than not, this genre of music has been constantly utilised to categorise songs that sample and/or include musical elements that are derived from a particular minority ethnic group. More specifically, language and vocal technique are the primary factors that allude to this strange term. As an anthropologist of sound and music, I am often loosely classified as an ethnomusicologist, which I always found to possess a curious prefix. I want to take this opportunity to take a step back and revisit the elusive meaning of what the prefix ethno means, and whether it is analogous to the study of ‘world’ music’. Many times, I am asked about and ask myself: what is so appealing about experiencing music that is so distant from your own culture, what is music’s connection with social identities and why is it so pertinent to both the performer(s) and listener(s)?
Every way of knowing is also a way of not knowing. Privileging one point of view, or one form of evidence, requires the erasure of other ways of perceiving and understanding the world. What do our cultures give us permission not to know? By what means are we permitted to blinker ourselves? And do our cultures ever encourage us to see those truths again?
Comparing my own experiences of death to those of the Tiwi culture that I learned of in my anthropology studies, the void that I felt in the months since the passing of my father has manifested as feelings of disbelief, isolation and under-preparedness -- prompting me to write this blog.
While sitting in the audience at a live Krista Tippett talk recently, I found myself in strong visceral agreement with words that I hadn't anticipated would arrest me so much. Already a fan of Tippett’s for the ease at which she converses with people about challenging topics, I hadn’t really thought about potential vocational crossovers … Continue reading In Agreement with Krista Tippett