Valuable aspects of musical culture are disappearing in many places around the world. They are overlooked by the market machine that controls showbiz and the media, or – paradoxically – they end up in university archives as lifeless ethnomusicology artefacts. In our globalised world, the prestige associated with musicians in many marginalised communities is in decline, and the youth are choosing other paths. Like many traditional practices, the diversity of musical phenomena is often deliberately destroyed by specific interest groups. This may be a result of political factions dredging up the construct of a homogeneous nation, missionaries and religious groups expanding their influence, or businesses juggling with copyright laws.
These musical and cultural phenomena are important not only because of the aesthetic value of the music but, above all, because they create social contexts for human growth. The strength and potential of these communities shines very brightly in poor regions. The development of these cultures is like swimming against the tide in a world of destructive capitalism and social disintegration.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Conservation, or the mission to rescue musical heritage in a closed, absolute form, usually takes place at a remove from the community from which the music originates. This inadequate, paternalistic approach should have been resigned to the dustbin of history long ago alongside the souvenirs of colonialism. Music has always evolved dynamically and crossed borders as part of complex, organic social systems. Rather than launching a rescue mission, you can engage with these ecosystems and support the flourishing of musical cultures in all contexts – old and new, local and global. Instead of saving a closed form, you can co-create an open field of possibilities.
WHAT DOES JUJU SOUNDS DO?
JuJu Sounds aims to enable musicians to find niche audiences from around the world. The internet still offers untapped potential for peripheral music genres. For younger members of the communities we visit, potential future musicians who are already operating in both worlds – local and global – the knowledge that their culture is also appreciated on a wider forum is vital. Globalisation enables communication, not just the one-way colonisation of minds through mass media and marketing.