Is world music really bourgeoisation in disguise?
EJ Moeran remained suspicious of the 'bourgeoisation' of folk, impatient with 'those who set about the teaching of folk-songs in schools, or the organising of garden fêtes etc... Well-intentioned as these efforts may be, they evolve something quite apart from the art of those who have it in their very bones, handed down from father to son'.Nowhere is bourgeoisation more in evidence than in gypsy music, which has evolved via folk, classical, jazz and world music into something quite apart from the art of those who have it in their bones. The recording featured in my header image is a notably bourgeoisation-free zone. Titled De Sant Jaume Son - The Sound of Saint Jacques - it features musicians from the gypsy enclave of Saint Jacques in Perpignan on the Mediterranean coast near France's border with Spain. The Saint Jacques neighbourhood in the centre of the city remains almost unchanged - compare the archive photo on the CD sleeve to the one below that I took in Perpignan a few months ago. From the first track there is no doubt these Gypsies have the music in their bones, they are well served by punchy sound captured in 1991 in the Music Conservatoire in Perpignan and the download is a snip at £4.99. Have we let bourgeoisation slip in disguised as fusion, multi-culturalism and world music? Perhaps authentic performances are not such a silly tradition after all.
* My header quote comes from Electric Eden by Rob Young. This important book has slipped under the classical music radar, possibly because at first glance it appears to focus on the niche of contemporary British folk music. But that categorisation is very misleading as it roves effortlessly and eruditely from Vaughan Williams and Finzi to Fairport Convention and The Incredible String Band and onwards. The American edition of Electric Eden was published in May, let's hope it does for Bax and Ireland what The Rest is Noise did for Feldman and Cage.
* I will be in Paris on November 25th for the premiere of Titi Robin's Les Rives anti-bourgeoisation project.
De Sant Jaume Son was bought online, Electric Eden was borrowed from Norwich Library and my Paris trip is entirely self-funded. Header photo photo is (c) On An Overgrown Path 2011. Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "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 errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk Also on Facebook and Twitter.