What is “Cross-Cultural Music Making?” musical_admin January 20, 2021
What is “Cross-Cultural Music Making?”

“Cross-cultural music making” is a term that recently emerged and is generally applied in the context of “interaction and integration between cultures” (20). I see the term as borrowing different musical elements (instruments, beats, styles, genres) from different parts of the world and creating a single song. Creative predecessors often inspire new generations of artists, whether it be in film, music, or photography. Additionally, one’s own environment may also inspire a creator.

In an article, Kim sums up four points about “cross-cultural music making.”

  1. ) “Cross-cultural music making” is an intra-cultural process and a characteristic process of music making in general. 
  2. ) “Cross-cultural music making is a dynamic, complex process depending on evolving relations between different systems of reference.
  3. ) The “local and global” permeate each other in this field, with an ever-changing point of reference. 
  4. ) “Cross-cultural music making” is a creative process in and of itself and is not simply a conglomeration of two entities.

I find myself disagreeing with the author’s point about the asymmetrical relationship between the involved cultures. Since I have been looking at the cultural cross-sections of music making, I cannot help but notice that there are many examples of East Asian music blended with African music, or South American music with elements of Southeast Asian music. Yes, there are examples of Western culture being the more “dominant” style of music, but that doesn’t negate the the importance of Vietnamese Southern Trap music, or Vietnamese Reggae.

Cross-cultural music making” is a creative process in and of itself and is not simply a conglomeration of two entities

The trans-cultural music making process to neglects the fact that the West is not the only frame of reference for “cultural domination.” There are many fusions of other multi-cultural arts that involve no mention of European countries. I don’t intend to downplay the issue of “cultural domination” by shifting the issues away from the West, but rather I hope to refute Kim’s view that is the only perspective. In fact, the entire field of musicology sees things in the dichotomy of black and white, of “musicology” and “ethnomusicology.” I think this field’s heavy reliance on this framework for the vast majority of research blinds Kim’s interpretation of trans-culturalism. International relations involve both political and economic pressures, and therefore, these influences can be observed in many forms of intra-cultural music and art, regardless of which culture provides the “frame of reference in the creative process.” 

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