Monday, October 30, 2006

Philip Glass - World Music Is The New Classical

‘By the early 1960’s,’ Philip Glass said, ‘the world of new concert music had reached a virtual dead end. By that I mean there were more and more composers writing for fewer and fewer people.’ Glass (left) had worked with Ravi Shankar on film sound tracks in the early sixties and, like the sitar master, was looking to open a door that would bring different sensibilities to Western music. ‘That door turned out to be much bigger that I thought,’ Glass said. ‘I thought it would lead to Indian music. Actually, it led to World Music – and that continues to this day.'

Glass had travelled to India in 1967 and discovered through his mentor Ravi Shankar that George Harrison was already immersed in India’s wisdom traditions, and had understood the impact Eastern music could have on the West. Glass met Harrison shortly after his return, and they agreed that the Indian sound was a much-needed breath of fresh air. ‘We were entering the same door but from different sides,’ Glass said. ‘From my side, it was the world of experimental concert music, and from George’s side it was the world of popular music. It was clear to us that this had historic significance, and that the foundations of contemporary music were going to shift. But I was wrong about one thing. I thought it was going to take much longer, the change happened much more quickly than I expected’
- Philip Glass being interviewed by Joshua Greene in the recently published ‘Here Comes the Sun, the Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison,’ (Bantam Books ISBN 0553817965).

Now playing - Orient–Occident with a stellar cast of World musicians - Jordi Savall, Khaled Arman, Osman Arman, Driss El Maloumi, Pedro Estevan, Siar Hashimi and Dimitris Psonis. For me, Alia Vox is becoming a second ECM with their innovative exploration of unusual repertoire that defies conventional categorisation. The instruments on this superb new release say it all – rubab, tulak, oud (below left), darbouka (below right), def, tambor, pandereta, riq-gunga, tablas, zir baghali, santur, saz, viol, lire d’archet, and rebab. In the sleeve note the great musician, scholar and humanitarian Jordi Savall passionately advocates World Music with these words.


Orient–Occident was born out of solidarity and the wish to share musical experiences with musicians from other cultures and religions, as well as to reflect on those times in the past when we in the West have also been responsible for breeding intolerance and cruelty. Four years on, the Orient – Occident project has finally taken the form of a stimulating dialogue between musicians from East and West, articulated through the instruments and music of Christian, Jewish and Muslim Hesperia, the stampitte of medieval Italy and the improvisations and dances of Morocco, Israel, Persia, Afghanistan and the old Ottoman empire. Forms of music apparently far removed from one another in time and space, music that has often been consigned to oblivion beneath successive layers of modernism, or undervalued because of its uncertain origins. Dances, prayer, songs and laments of rare beauty and intense emotion, whose delicacy of expression frees us from the stranglehold of our deeply embedded roots and avoidable isolation.

And here to remind us what a rich heritage World Music has to draw on is a listing of just some of the festivals from many different cultures that are being celebrated around the world in the coming month of November 2006:

Wed 1 Algerian Revolution Day
1 Antiguan & Barbudan Independence Day
1 Christian All Saints Day
Thu 2 Christian All Souls Day
2 Rastafarian Haile Selassie 1: Coronation
Fri 3 Dominican Independence Day
3 Japanese Bunka no Hi
Sun 5 Sikh Guru Nanak Dev ji Birthday
5 Thai Loy Krathong
5 UK Guy Fawkes Night
Mon 6 Moroccan Green March Anniversary
Thu 9 Pakistan Allama Muhammad Iqbal Birthday
Fri 10 Turkish Ataturk: Death
Sat 11 Angolan Independence Day
11 Polish Independence Day
11 UK Armistice Day
Sun 12 Bahai Baha'u'llah: Birthday
12 UK Remembrance Sunday
Tue 14 Indian Children’s Day
Wed 15 Japanese Shichi Go San
Sat 18 Latvian National Day
18 Moroccan Independence Day
Wed 22 Lebanese Independence Day
Thu 23 Japanese Kinro Kansha no Hi
US Thanksgiving Day
Fri 24 Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji: Martyrdom
Sun 26 Bahai Day of the Covenant
Tue 28 Albanian Independence Day
28 Baha'i Abdu'l-Baha: Passing
28 Zoroastrian: Shenshai Second Gahambar: First day
Wed 29 Albanian Liberation Day
Thu 30 Barbadian Independence Day
30 Filipino National Heroes Day
30 Scottish St Andrew's Day
30 Yemeni Independence Day

Image credits - oud from Afromix.com, darbouka from Woodbrass.com. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included for "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to Classic misunderstandings - Eastern tunings

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