Friday, January 12, 2007

White Men Playing Didgeridoos

Musical fusion experiments rather beg the question: What works? And, what doesn't? As you might expect, I've got some opinions on that issue. You see, I have a problem with white men playing Didgeridoos (didjeridu). I know, I'm risking the ire of all the new age music gods, but I'm just not convinced the pairing is anything other than uncomfortable at best, and a really, really bad idea at worst. Speaking only for myself, that's not how I define fusion. Affectation, maybe. Cultural dysphony, for sure. But not fusion.

As presumptuous an assertion as that may be, I am mindful of the definition of fusion: the merging of two colliding nuclei into a third, more robust nucleus accompanied by a burst of high-energy. You know, enough to make you dance or exclaim out loud: "Now that's what I'm talking about." Jazz fusion qualifies, Celtic fusion often works; and Afro-Caribbean sounds are da bomb. Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra is a personal favorite, with their fusion of Indo-European sound into Hindustani modern jazz.

White men playing Didgeridoos? Those nuclei just don't merge. No way. And the energy released by the impact? Well, let's just say it surely won't cause the sun to come up every morning or the moon to move across the evening sky.

So where does one draw the line? All instruments had their origins somewhere else, right? In most cases, that is an accurate statement. And, an instrument is an instrument. Can't argue with that either. For me, the question is best framed: What works? There are as many answers to that question as there are individual points of view. I believe, however, that I can say with some certainty that the personal determination of what works and what doesn't often goes beyond facts and logic, defying simple explanation. It's a limbic system thing. Visceral, if you like.

I must admit that Didgeridoos have an obvious role in lush, musical soundscapes. Likewise in ambient drones and experimental new age anthems. And of course, I don't consider any of those pseudo-genres to be real music. I'll occasionally go to sleep on Sunday nights listening to Hearts of Space, but I view the show as more of a sedative than a musical experience. Kind of like a Chloral Hydrate or Benadryl. Sure, I'm looking for some comments here. And if this post doesn't provoke some discussion, I'll know I need to do some serious SEO and get a few bulletins out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can respect your thoughts I just do not understand the basis for them. "White" men, women, children, I only see humans!
Music is about expression. Listening is about choice. I cannot tell someone what to like just like I cannot tell someone how to express their creative energy. Lest they conflict with others or do harm.