Thursday, 7 June 2007

"World" Music

Tom did it in Milan; I do it now. I squirm in hangover. But this is the modern world, and sitting on the terrace I'm listening to Gilles Peterson streamed mellowly from Radio One. I haven't listened to Radio One for thirty years! Music is now just an instantaneous feed: everyone knows "everything". Here in Lyon I am tuned into the BBC, it could be radio stations from anywhere in the world. Suddenly my I-Pod has the same alternative, vaguely lo-fi, artists, as Connie and John, my hosts. The artists fame is sudden and passed on by word of online mouth: they play where they are popular. Gilles Peterson is playing Amsterdam on "Sunday", has just returned from Shanghai; in between Clissold Park in North London. There are few secrets now, even obscure vinyl is now digitized and made available (legally) on websites. Shanghai or Lyon, audiences will "know".

When Tom came home he brought descriptions of music, and orchestras, he heard in Venice; the text is still important to historians of classical music. Now I wonder how we are archiving musical "taste" in its myriad forms. Instead of a stream - a new song, a CD - contemporary music is now a shifting ocean we all sail in, or on. Oceans. No wonder the record industry is worried.

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