In 1999, former frontman of art-rock band Talking Heads David Byrne wrote an angry article called I Hate World Music, for The New York Times, in which he criticised the term “world music” as both absurd and reductive. I remember the article well and agreed with much of what he wrote, particularly the notion that such a term lumped together Congolese dance music and Bulgarian choral ensembles on the same rack in record stores. Reducing, say, the entire music of a continent like Africa to such a term is another issue that seemed to annoy Byrne (and from my experience many African musicians as well).
Musician and former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne.
Byrne discusses the issue of “other musics” at length in his latest book, How Music Works (Canongate, UK, paperback), a monster tome of nearly 400 pages that covers his life as a working musician,
the workings of music industry production and distribution and just about everything and anything else connected to music, from its origins to our neural response to it.
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