Techno-Tourism

Its fascinating reading how Berlin is the reason as to why we have EDM today. EDM and music festivals reveals around so many young adults today its fascinating reading where it all started. In this class we have read about how other countries have seen our culture and used it as there own. Finally we see how us Americans have gotten something from another country and inserted it into our lives today. Berlin started off with there night clubs full of DJ’s on the weakens to having huge music festivals around the world. All this started in one place across the ocean.

Train Tracks in Calais

The video Calais, September 2015 – The Syrian poet – “Britaniya, Britanya” shows migrants walking along train tracks. Calais is a major hub for trains and industry, and its port used to be thriving. The Chunnel which is the train/tunnel from London to mainland Europe cuts right through Calais, and it has lowered the travel time between locations exponentially. Merging borders, the Chunnel connects the two localities and people. As the migrants walk along the train tracks, they bring attention to the fact that citizens of Europe can easily travel wherever they want, but because the migrants were driven from their homes, they do not have that freedom. The United Kingdom refused to accept migrants from Calais which is already struggling from a seasonal economy.

When the speaker narrates over the footage of the migrants, he has struggle in his voice, but laughter from the other men accompany it. He has pain and hurt in his voice. The refugee situation in Calais was not unusual, and most European cities are figuring out ways to provide asylum and support for refugees and migrants. The music that the refugees bring with them adds to the culture of the areas as they slowly assimilate and merge in the culture.

Technotourism and Saharawi Refugee Camp Music

After reading this article I realized that I was an undiagnosed technotourist. I’ve never traveled to Berlin, but I have heard of it’s great electronic music scene and would like to experience it sometime.

The music and the people seem to be the two largest attractions. Berlin also seems to be one of the most lively techno-tourist locations, although techno-tourism can be a lucrative industry for any host city. Berlin is an attractive city for not only historical tourists, but those who want to experience the music scene as well. I thought Garcia was right when he said Berlin was a “special case.” The city is attractive for loud music but not without the noise complaints of those living within the city. It highlights the cross between the two groups in Berlin – those involved in the electronic music scene, and those who aren’t.
The rise of techno tourism popularity seems to be analogous with a younger generation who are more cost-conscious and strive for experiences over materials. These people have really done everything they can to keep costs low, from booking flights months in advance, to avoiding all extra flight costs. Also, most tourists have connections to places to stay, but not all. Those without usually stay in more modest housing in hostels.

The reading on the Saharawi refugee camps in western Africa was interesting to me because it highlights the post-colonial world we are currently experiencing. The dust from the succession of the European colonial powers in Africa in the 20th century has not yet been settled. African nations are fighting for control of areas leaving hundreds of thousands without permanent homes, driven out of their homeland. Music during the revolution was voluntary and seen as a motivator for the cause – the survival of their people. It is important to the older generation that music not be paid for. The younger musicians have no problem accepting money.

t.A.T.u. You! Russia, the Global Politics of Eurovision, and Lesbian Pop Article

Julia Volkova and Lena Katina played there cards well when it came to the press. They knew exactly what the public wanted and they made sure to deliver. The fact that they used there sexuality too there advantage was smart in some ways yet inappropriate. Them pretend to be lesbian in front of the press is no okay. Unlike David Bowie, and just went with the flow of things, these girls were literally pretending to be part of the LGBTQ community. These underage girls would act sexual on stage and dress up in school girl close. They almost seems like they were the high payed prostitutes. Julia and Lena were promoting to others that its ok to be something your not. I don’t believe this was an acceptable message to be sending to others around the world.

Eurovision Song Contest

The Eurovision Song Contest was put together with good intentions, as a way to unite the countries of Europe in the post-war period. The competition was a way to showcase the talent and culture from individual countries, and give them a major platform. This contest is truly a show of the power of music: due to the fact that there are virtually no material prizes, simply just the declaration of being the winner. It is amazing that this competition been able to prosper on for this long with high participation and the attention that it gets.

Although, originally this contest was a way to unite countries all across Europe in the post-war period, more specifically to create common ground between the East and West, it is apparent that this competition has a bias towards Western European Countries. The countries with the most winners goes as follows: Ireland (7 times), and France, the UK, Luxembourg, The Netherlands (5 times). (Eurovison.tv) This is not to say that there have not been non-western European Winners, but it is still valid to point out this fact. There is also an apparent western bias with the “Big Five”. Germany, Italy, France, The UK and Spain are automatically granted qualifications for the finals due to their major financial contributions to the EBU. (Vuletic 12) It seems unfair to include something like this in a contest, especially due to the fact that many countries do not have the same financial security that would allow them to make major financial contributions to the cause. What are some scenarios that could have stopped the creation of a western bias? Or was it unavoidable?

The ESC has also become a platform for political messages to be conveyed especially when there is conflict between participating countries. A recent example is the conflict between Russia and Ukraine with the Crimean Peninsula. The 2016 winner, Jamala, representing Ukraine, sings about the deportation of Crimean Tartars in 1944 which directly impacted her family. Since there was an active issue about the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, the Eurovision council banned flags that do not come from the official country participants in the arena. This included a ban for flags like the Crimean Tatars to be in audience, and only the Ukrainian flag was allowed by her Crimean Tatar supporters. What does an act like this say about music and politics? Was it ever possible for a contest like this to avoid the inclusion of politics and simply be a music contest?

Post-Soviet Fantasies and Protests

In the late 2011s to 2012, Post-Soviet Russia was filled with protests. These protests mainly seemed to be surrounding Putin, but also authoritarianism and the patriarchy and more. People dreamt of a new, better Russia than the current one and some dreamed of leaving Russia for some place better. When Putin sought to be re-re-elected after a four year gap, many people were upset. This type of reaction to Putin was not always the case like the song “A Man like Putin” shows, nonetheless it appeared people were not thrilled to have him back. As we have seen in class punk music is often the genre of music for protesting and this appeared to have still been the case in Russia. During this time period, a performing protest group emerged called Pussy Riot. It is debated on whether or not to call them a protest group necessarily, but that dives into the issue of authenticity and who has the right to declare something authentic. Pussy Riot sought to perform in very public places and record their performances so that they can upload their art for more people to see it. They sang against Putin and the patriarchy (and his connection to the church), pushing how men have seemed to dominate their country, as well as for the rights of gays and women. They sang loud, proud, face covered, bright-colored, and publicly. They performed on garage/jail house roofs to the Red Square to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Sometimes they were able to escape, sometimes they got reprimanded in varying degrees. The worse was after the performance in the church that resulted in three of the five remaining Pussy Riots in jail. Now for two of these three, they were released early from their two year sentence. It appears that they continued to perform as we can tell by “Chaika” that came out in 2016. However, this video strays greatly from their normal ascetic of visual art, as well as the music itself is much longer.

  1. Is Pussy Riot a punk band? What would make them a punk band and does anyone have the right to declare them one way or the other?
  2. In their song, “Death to Jails, Freedom to Protests,” they say that freedom is to the protests. Why are they saying this? What do you think it means?
  3. In “Words Will Break Cement” the author writes that this performance was not that successful. What are your thoughts on their approach?
  4. What are your thoughts on the videos of the Pussy Riots? Like the fact that the audio is pre-recorded.
  5. For some of the Pussy Riot’s performances the Russian police was seen ripping the masks off of the girls, beating them, etc. What does this show of the police force? Of the state of Russia?
  6. The Pussy Riots wore bright colors, masks, and danced in outrages styles throughout most of their performances. What is your take on their style and why they might have done this?
  7. What do the different songs show about Russia and its progression through time?
  8. In the video, “Punk Prayer,” one of the girls can be seen on her knees, praying, and crossing herself, (0.04, 0.15, 0.53). What is the significance of this? What is the significance of showing the church at the end? Why would they write a song praying to God for Putin to be taken away?
  9. Some of the things that are cheered for in the protests are feminists and LGBTs. What is your take on this?
  10. In “Russia, I’m a Patriot,” the characters in the video all appear to be dressed provocatively while wearing proper headdresses. What do you think is meant behind the costume work in this video?

Pussy Riot

I think that the punk genre is really fascinating because it gives freedom to its artist to express themselves completely unfiltered, in a way in which I think other genres do not. Pussy Riot is a perfect example of a punk group who catered to the fan base in Russia who wanted to see a change in their oppressive homeland. The Pussy Riot was an integral part of the protests happening in the country. I think that their group, in particular, brought people together, and helped to facilitate change by bringing music together with songs that were obviously provoking. The song “Putin Will Teach You How to Love” is a perfect example of a politically provoking song. The lyrics describe how Russian people are mistreated, mentioning the LGBTQ+ community especially, and how they are conditioned to “love” the motherland through fear and punishment. I think that “love” here is being used as synonymous with obeying. In the video, for the song, we can clearly see that Russian police officers are brutalizing the people, but in other shots, the singers are standing by the Olympic symbol and dancing with people in animal costumes. I think it would be interesting to discuss the significance of this artistic choice in class. Although I use the term artistic here cautiously because critics still debate whether Pussy Riot is an authentic punk band. I would like to get back to our discussion of authenticity but now in relation to Pussy Riot. Also, I think it would be fun to discuss what David Bowie would think of them.

Bulgarian Women’s Choir

Early in the reading, Buchanan refers to the “oppositional constructs at work” throughout Europe from the most basic level such as industrial vs. rural, to “West vs. East,” “socialist/communist vs. democratic,” and more (8).  However, while the divides can be seen in Europe as a whole when comparing country to country, Buchanan points out how these “dichotomies” are at work in Bulgaria and are “abstractions” that citizens are working through.  Given Bulgaria’s history and transition from a 43 year long Communist government into a democratic member of the European Union, these contradictions are reflected not only in the people but in the music.

               The Bulgarian Women’s Choir, as described by its conductor in the interview, sings contemporary arrangements of medieval music.  The first choir was said to be assembled by a famous Bulgarian conductor in the 1950’s in which women auditioned from villages around the country.  Today, the coloring of their traditional clothing is symbolic of Bulgarian history of the villages they are from.  Their voices are reflective of the traditional singing style of Bulgaria – there are six vocal ranges presented in the group, the voices are natural, and the way they sing is different than that of a Western style.  Yet, in the first video, we hear them end with Oh! Susanna blending their traditional Bulgarian style of singing with a Western song. 

               Throughout the interview, we see the conductor’s desire to share with others their history, traditions, and style of music.  She displayed her knowledge and was gracious for the invitation.  However, at the end of the interview, the men repeatedly congratulate each other on their discovery (of music that has existed in Bulgaria since medieval times) and the risk they took in bringing the choir to the United States rather than congratulating the women on their success and risk they took. 

  1. Did you notice the difference between their guttural singing style and the open-mouth style of Western singing?
  2. What other differences did you notice between traditional
  3. Do you think the choir is effectively blending the contemporary with the traditional music?
  4. How has Bulgaria’s communist history affected the existence and style of groups like the Bulgarian Women’s Choir?
  5. How has Bulgaria’s transition from communism to democracy changed the music and the culture of the people? Do we see any Western influence?
  6. Why did the men describe each other as having “courage” or taking a “risk” by bringing the choir to perform?
  7. In what way do the attitudes of the woman interview contrast with the attitudes of the men?
  8. Given the class topic is breaking barriers, how do you feel these women are challenging gender norms?
  9. With the time period, why do you think the choir was all women?
  10. How would the choir have been perceived differently if they had not all been women?

(so sorry this is late, my computer decided to update for the past hour!)

Bulgarian Music

When watching both videos of the Bulgarian Women’s Choir I thought there were some interesting similarities and differences. In the performance of 1990 on the Tonight Show, the women seemed less polished as a whole, and their sound was much more traditional and folky. Also, the host of the show was polite in welcoming his guest, but he didn’t seem to be too interested or well versed in their music. Comparatively the 2017 performance seemed more seasoned, and the music was more upbeat. The host of the show also seemed to be personally familiar and interested in the group. He even stated that he had been waiting for quite a bit of time to see this group perform (0:11). In both performances though the women’s voices are so powerful and they blend beautifully together. I was quite surprised at how strong the Bulgarian Women’s Choir was when they sang. I also found this group to be fascinating because I believe this is our first all-female group. I’m hoping that in class we are able to foster a meaningful discussion on gender and its place in this topic. Specifically, the Bulgarian Women’s Choir is interesting because they are an all-female group that have also won a Grammy for their album. Not only is this group interesting because of its all-female make-up, but it also has political importance. Bulgarian musical groups like this began to be beacons of democracy. As Bulgaria was finding its identity and sense of nationalism after being occupied so many times in the past the countries musical identity was fostered as well. Musical performances occurred at many political events and youth music programs were created. With a country that has a history like Bulgaria’s the impact that music had on them was enormous. They went from being a very poor country to having groups like the Bulgarian Women’s Choir performing internationally. These developments are all part of the transitions that are discussed in “Performing Democracy: Bulgarian Music and Musicians in Transitions”. In class, I would like to discuss if these transitions are clear in the difference from the 1990 performance to the 2017 performance? And if so how?

Paul Simon’s Graceland

The Apartheid was a political ideology that was backed by the National Party in South Africa. Though the original idea was for it to be a way for races to develop separately in an equal manner, in its implementation it can be more appropriately described as a hierarchy structure where races were grossly unequal. At a time where the rest of the world was starting to desegregate these laws appeared regressive to many other countries internationally, and a lot of backlash and controversy surround the Apartheid. During the 1980s around the same period as when Graceland was released some “reform” was happening to the laws in South Africa, but little actually changed. Also, this time period became the most brutal under the Apartheid because the government wanted to keep their power and ideology. Although Paul Simon found a connection to African inspired music, the influence of the Apartheid in South Africa is not directly referenced in the album Graceland that he wrote. Simon himself states in the article “Paul Simon’s Graceland, South Africa, and the Mediation of Musical Meaning” that he didn’t necessarily seek out the role of humanitarian trying to unite the races in South Africa. Louise Meintjes argues in the article that the power of his collaboration with African artists is impactful enough in combating social normatives that keep interracial and international collaboration from happening in music. However, my critique of this is that artists should have a certain level of responsibility to use their notoriety for social change whenever possible. In class, we discussed what level of responsibility artist should be required to have, if any, when we talked about Coldplay and the Clash. I personally think that Paul Simon could have done more to combat the social climate at the time, and the ambiguity of the album left something to be desired in my opinion. While I understand the limitations of the time, as mentioned by Meintjes, I still feel like the music isn’t inherently political to me. While listening to the music on the album I did hear subtle African influences in the sound. But, I wonder if anyone else in the class felt like the influence wasn’t as impactful as it could have been.

“A History of Apartheid in South Africa.” South African History Online. Accessed November 14, 2019. https://www.sahistory.org.za/article/history-apartheid-south-africa.

Meintjes, Louise. “Paul Simon’s Graceland, South Africa, and the Mediation of Musical Meaning.” Ethnomusicology 34, no. 1 (1990): 37-73. doi:10.2307/852356.