Listening Guide

A chapter-by-chapter selection of audio/video clips featuring the music referenced in Uproot, with endnotes and links to explore further!

Chapter Four World Music 2.0

World Music

The World Music meeting notes are online: ‘Minutes Of Meeting Between The Various 'World Music' Record Companies And Interested Parties, Monday 29th June 1987’: “It was agreed that we should create a generic name under which our type of catalogue could be labelled in order to focus attention on what we do. We discussed various names for our type of music(s) and on a show of hands 'World Music' was agreed as the 'banner' under which we would work. Other suggestions were 'World Beat', 'Hot...', 'Tropical...' "

The Guardian article “We Created World Music” interviews several meeting attendees to get their take on the term seventeen years later.

My thinking about World Music 2.0 was shaped by participation -n the incredibly engaging blog culture that sprang up around it. Wayne & Wax in Cambridge, Masalacism in Montreal, alongside many other sites, and a community of blog commenters, DJs, event promoters and more who, more often than not, were happy to talk ….. Wayne’s posts in particular are thorough, link-filled delights: head to his entries on global ghettotech and nu whirled music.

Japanese Noise

Enjoy "My Dad is Car", one of the Hanatarash songs from the bootleg RRR cassette that melted my teen mind:

This was the Ruins song that I'd heard, which led me to RRR in the first place:

And the Maghrebi gnawa music -- some selections from one of my favorite gnawa maalems, Mahmoud Gania:

Joujouka vs. Jajouka

I tried to put up a version of the same song from the Master Musicians of Joujouka and the Master Musicians of Jajouka but Soundcloud instantly took down the Jajouka one. The takedown email read: “Our automatic content protection system has detected that one of your tracks may contain copyrighted content. . . Here's what our system has found: It looks like your track "Bujloudia" may contain or be a copy of "Bujloudia" by The Master Musicians Of Jajouka.” May contain a copy, eh? Jean Baudrillard’s notion of the simulcrum, a copy without an original, may be useful here...

I first reported on Joujouka/Jajouka for The National.

the Wilcannia Mob


While I Cairo I interviewed Arabic translator Humphrey Davies for my WFMU radio show The entire hour was great – listen! Davies eloquently describes the honking language and its role in the Cairene soundscape, plays a raucous Quranic recitation, praises Lebanese pop diva Nancy Arjam, details the quirks of oral vs written Arabic, and gives insight into his process as a translator.

Readingwise, I recommend a spirited, sharply observed book on contemporary Cairo: Maria Golia's City of Sand. It's a loving but unsentimental take delivered by an expat who has lived in the city longer than most of the local musicians I met there have been alive.

Rewind back further, one of my favorite books on a musician is Virginia Danielson's wonderfully detailed study, The Voice of Egypt: Umm Kulthum, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century.

My time in Cairo first emerged as a feature for The Fader. If there as a single festival song that made me drop what I was doing and head to Egypt to find out more, it was this Amr 7a7a diss track by DJ Figo. Next to it is one of shaabi pioneer Ahmed Adaweya's many songs -- the opening beat is a prime example of the baladi percussion style that festival reinvents. (This Adaweya intro was also sampled by Mutamassik).

And another powerful festival track:

Umm Kulthum

While this chapter is concerned with World Music 2.0 – let’s take a listen to one of the (many) great Umm Kulthum song, “Enta Omri”:

We are dealing with the basics here: love and time.

“What we missed is not little,” sings Kulthum. “Whatever I saw before my eyes saw you was a wasted life.”

In concert, 'Enta Omri' could continue for hours. Ahmad Shafiq Kamil penned the lyrics and Mohamed Abdel Wahab wrote the music, which bypasses the ears to enter the heart directly. West (Cornel not Kanye) and Ralph Waldo (Ellison not Emerson) compare jazz to democracy– individuals playing with and against a group dynamic, ready to improvise and comfortable with change. Imaginative, flexible, dedicated to making their abstract tools sing: a model of social organization.

Western orchestras, on the other hand, are conspicuously totalitarian: the fixed scores, the funny black suits, musicians forced to follow the strict leader at the top, utter suppression of individuality, etc. I wonder what they'd say about this incandescent Egyptian, whose songs move her listeners with tidal force, leading orchestras (composed of the usual suspects plus Abdel Wahab's new friend: the electric guitar) in swooning iterations of song and theme, reacting to audience response/requests, cycling through stanzas for hours (Americans wouldn't call it progress but we are certainly going somewhere, the same words or notes arrive but they mean different each time), emotional eddies make the river flow. Her popularity & impact remains vast, nearly compulsory, undemocratic.

Thirty years after her death, Kulthum still outsells many popular Egyptian artists. Take that, Elvis!­

Welcome to the Listening Guide, a chapter-by-chapter selection of audio/video clips featuring the music referenced in the book, with endnotes and links to explore further!

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Available August 16, 2016 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux