A defining feature of “world music,” “world beat,” or “ethno pop,” as it has variously been called, is the production of recordings by well-known American and European pop musicians that include traditional musicians from other cultures performing in a back-up role, or that call attention to themselves by the use of musical exotica extracted from traditional cultures. Such recordings suggest a range of issues and questions that invite critique and debate. Some of these are listed below: 1. How do a recording’s musical arrangements, title, graphics, and accompanying notes represent the relationship between Western lead musicians and participating traditional musicians? 2. Is music on the recording attributed to an author, composer, or arranger? Who holds the copyright? What do attributions and credits suggest about rights to, and ownership of, the music? 3. Are the musical and personal relationships negotiated through the production of the album compatible with beliefs about rights to, and ownership of, music in the imported tradition represented on the recording? 4. Does the lead artist show musical respect for the imported tradition(s) represented on the recording? What is “musical respect” and how might it be shown or not shown? 5. Do artists who employ traditional musicians have obligations not only to the musicians but to the political entities or cultural traditions that they represent? What factors would determine whether they do or do not? 6. Should traditional musicians be implicated in the capitalist culture of risk that is an inherent part of the record business? That is, should traditional musicians get a fixed “session” fee for participating in a recording, or should they be paid royalties based on sales?
World music recording
For this assignment, I chose Paul Simon’s ‘the rhythm of the saints’. The recording represents an expansion in his incorporation of traditional music. From the collaboration with Brazilian superstars to heavily borrowing from the setting of Latin Music. This makes it be classified under three genres which are Pop, rock, and Worldbeat. It also represents a cross-cultural genre of music since its prime is highly influenced by West African music.
The song is attributed to its composer and producer Paul Simon under the label of Warner Bros. the copyrights are also indicated to belong to the same producer. These copyrights and attributions suggest that the composer of the song holds the due rights of music ownership.
The musical relationships represented in the music negotiated through the production of the album are compatible with the beliefs concerning the rights to and ownership of music in the borrowed tradition represented in the music. This is because the recording recognizes all who took part in it, including the instrumentalists.
The lead artist, Paul Simon shows musical respect for the traditions that the song has imported. Artistic respect refers to the recognition of the cultures or traditions featured in the song as worth upholding (Taylor, 2014). In the song, the cultural settings and traditional dances show recognition of these traditions.
The artists who employ traditional musicians have an obligation not only to the musicians but also to the political entities and cultural traditions they represent. This is dictated by the social, cultural setting and the legal requirements of the cultures they represent. They have a moral obligation to do this in a manner that will not taint the image of those traditions.
The traditional musicians should continue getting loyalties depending on the sales they make for their music. This is because granting them a fixed session fee will not make a difference between the highly demanded songs and those that are not demanded.
Paul Simon, “The Rhythm of the Saints” (with Latin American musicians)
Taylor, T. D. (2014). Global pop: World music, world markets. Routledge.
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