Saturday, March 22, 2008

"The notion of cultural purity is a dead-end"

"The notion of cultural purity is a dead-end."
- Yo Yo Ma (speaking in relation to his Silk Road project

"Ma said he thinks 'nothing great was ever produced in isolation.' He said his study of history at Harvard University led him to realize that Eastern and Western cultures have mixed since at least the time of Alexander the Great."

"'Even something as basic as our Western major and minor keys may have originally come from the amazingly complex modes of classical Persian music,' Ma said. 'And there's a continual tradition in the West of incorporating music from other parts of the world.'"

This is such a great quote. In the world music (term used under objection) community, there is such an unspoken bullshit requirement for groups and projects to have some sort of cultural purity or authenticity in order to play in certain venues, and to be accepted by certain audiences. It is time for this to be brought out into the open ala Obama bringing the discussion of race out into the open. Once we acknowledge that certain audiences/promoters have these unspoken feelings, we can confront them and present interesting acts from all over without worrying about if these groups are "pure", "authentic" or meet some other unsaid criteria. They just better be good.

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