Writing about World Music

Davidson College, Fall 2015

Author: ritovar

CDs No More

Imagine a world without CDs. A few years back you would think that would be crazy and maybe you still do. However, as the world becomes more modern and advanced in technology, it is predictable that one day CDs will no longer be made like phonographs. Well once Starbucks used to have a relationship with record companies in selling artist CDs such as Carly Simon. This historical event was explained by Spencer Kornaber, a journalist for the Atlantic, in an article about how the Starbucks was a major disappointment to the increase of CD sales.

Believe it or not but Starbucks used to have relationships with record companies to sell and promote CDs in their coffee shop to their customers. Although it is quite difficult to remember if Starbucks ever did promote music in CD form, Kornaber explains that in 1994 Starbucks had began to sell CDs in their store and was seen as a record industry rebel. People from record labels such as Howard Schultz agreed that Starbucks would be a great place to have music sold and this brought large artist to take part in this business such as Paul McCartney. The reason for this was because Starbucks allowed artist to have more freedom to decided where to have chains of their music sold compared to the record stores which were regulated by companies such as Universal. However, all good things came to an end. Starbucks soon began to run into trouble. What Schultz saw as a prospering idea had been altered. Starbucks had soon tried to move towards a more digital spectrum in order to compete with other large brands. Thus, the modernity of Starbucks had allowed them to lack in advertising music in their stores and begin to stop selling physical CDs.

As we continue to move towards a more technological world, we might not see Starbucks selling CDs anymore. However, not only would we see Starbucks putting a stop to CD sells but also other companies as well. With large online companies that offer music such as Spotify and Pandora will lead to an extinction of CDs as everything will soon become digital.


Sources: Kornhaber, Spencer. “Starbucks’s Failed Music Revolution.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 25 Feb. 2015. Web. 03 Oct. 2015. <http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/02/starbuckss-failed-music-revolution/385937/>.

The Tearful Public Sphere: Turkey’s “Sun of Art,” Zeki Müren

As we enter a decade of a more open-minded society, we have witnessed the acceptance and equality of many sexualities and races. This modern environment is closely related to Martin Stokes’ journal chapter titled “The Tearful Public Sphere: Turkey’s Sun of Art,” where he writes about the theme of gender roles in the country of Turkey.

Primarily, Stokes explicitly explains the history on how the Ottoman Empire tried to reach modernity. He explained that the empire had been identified as the “Sick Man of Europe” and had given it a bad reputation to the kingdom because they were reaching points of diversity within their location. Thus, the young individuals in Turkey tried to reform this. One of the many Turks was Zeki Müren who was a homosexual singer. The fact that Müren was homosexual had clearly caused multiple hardships in his life such as being criticized. His lack of masculinity allowed many to bash on his liking for men. Stoke explained that there was a culture norm in Turkey that if an individual did not fit in what society wanted, he or she would be unaccepted. This also made it difficult fro Müren to be able to perform as a singer because he needed a permit like the majority of women who performed publicly. This not only had Müren be identified as a female but also highlighted the idea that women had the least participation in being engaged in musical performance due to the fact that they needed to gain permission with a permit.

This theme of women have little to none musical impact in a society reminds me of the role of women in the book, Sardinia Chronicles by Bernard Lortat-Jacob. Jacob writes in his book on how women had the role of being a homemaker. In other words, women had the traditional life of staying at home to provide for the husband when he arrived and having little to none involvement with men responsibilities. One of the major “responsibilities” that men had in the book was to play music and make a living out of playing music. Therefore, the fact that men were more probable to play music allowed this to be a gender custom. Jacob explains that the majority of people who made music in Sardinia. Specifically, one explain of this is how the men would usually gather together and play music while the women would not interfere with the men gathered together.

So the theme that Stokes presents us about gender roles has been a large impact throughout music history. The gender roles that have been established in society have not only been identified with employment opportunities but also hobbies such as music.


Sources: “Zeki Müren.” Cultural Intimacy in Turkish Popular Music The Republic of Love (2010): 35-72. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.

Music Improves Intelligence and Memory

Do you want to be smarter and have a higher IQ? Well here is the trick. Find a way to engage in musical training. Yes, it only takes a few practice sessions on reading musical notes and playing an instrument. According to the The Conversation’s journalist Amy Spray, music is has been a mind-pounding topic to researchers based on its ability to effectively have people complete task swiftly.

Spray explains that music training has provide results that demonstrated how individuals tend to improve in skill areas such as memorization, verbal communication, literacy, and verbal intelligence. Although it is weird to find that learning music will make one better in a skillset area, Spray is right. She explains that the brain often responds quicker when it is put through exercises such as memory. She proves this by explaining an experiment that was done in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers had experimented with students who had underdeveloped brains because of their young ages and found that the students that were put in musical training compared to those who were in officer training performed better in an accelerated course. Spray explains that the fact that the students in musical training were exposed to exercise that demanded accuracy and speed allowed them to react at quicker times which lead to a faster time of remembering information. Therefore, Spray suggested that if more students were exposed to musical training, they could improve on their skills and do well in school.

Thus, listening to music and remember the lyrics will not suite this situation. One must take the time to engage in more demanding musical training in order to challenge one’s brain to think at a faster rate.


Sources: “Musical Training Can Accelerate Brain Development and Help with Literacy Skills.” The Conversation. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Sep. 2015. <http://theconversation.com/musical-training-can-accelerate-brain-development-and-help-with-literacy-skills-44946>.

Lyrics Altered for the World Cup

Where were you during the FIFA World Cup in South Africa 2010? Where you with friends watching your nation play? Or were you at home sitting on the couch without even having a clue about what was going on? Regardless if you were involved in being part of the World Cup in some form or not having an idea of it existing, K’Naan’s song titled “Waving Flag” was a potential song to be the tournament’s anthem. Also, if you have heard the song, you know its has a very upbeat rhythm that highlights the idea of unity within nations. K’Naan specifically states in his song “celebration it surrounds us, every nation, all around us.” These lyrics are one of the many in his verses that emphasize the theme of unification. However, what if I told you that this song initially was about poverty and struggle? It’s hard to believe but it’s true.

When K’Naan wrote the song, he intentionally wrote it based on the lives of people in Somalia. He used it as an inspiration for the people to be optimistic about the opportunities and freedoms to come in the near future. Since K’Naan has a dual nationality with both Canada and Somalia, he recognizes the hardships of the people who live in Somalia. It is evident that his life of living in both countries allowed him to compare two countries and emphasize the adversities of Somalia to a first world nation. Specifically, the lyrics to one of his verse states, “so we struggling, fighting to eat and we wondering when we’ll be free, so we patiently wait, for that fateful day, it’s not far away, so for now we say…” This is well written from the artist because not only does it summarize the major difficulties that Somalia people face but also it gives him and the people a motivation to continue to fight through the pain and oppression.

Despite the original song, the celebration remix made for the world cup also has positive intentions, yet it does not expose the poverty and oppression of a country. Rather it maintains a clean version of demonstrating unity within a group of people, specifically the countries playing in the world cup.


Sources: “”Wavin’ Flag” Lyrics.” K’NAAN LYRICS. N.p., n.d. Web. 013 Sep. 2015. <http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/knaan/wavinflag.html>.

“”Wavin’ Flag (The Celebration Mix)” Lyrics.” K’NAAN LYRICS. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sep. 2015. <http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/knaan/wavinflagthecelebrationmix.html>.

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 13 Sep. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wavin%27_Flag>.

Superpowers of Music

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d_jQycdQGo&w=560&h=315]

Imagine yourself being part of an extremely prestigious school of music where every student has the dream to become one of the best musicians alive. As a student you are expected to put numerous of hours practicing and studying your musical notes. Your social life and sleep is becoming less of a priority, as you are demanded to demonstrate perfection at every practice. The trailer for Whiplash is a representation of this scenario. The main character, Andrew who is played by Miles Teller, reveals how music has not only become a challenging interest but also demonstrates how music plays a role in the lives of humans. Constantly, individuals refer to cultures when discussing music. However, music has multiple impacts on how society works together in which in we have discussed in World Music. Music plays an important role in not only demonstrating culture or history but rather plays a role in which the music creates character and relationships between human beings.

In class, we barely began to hit on the idea on how the accordion itself played an important role in the novel of Sardinian Chronicles. Lortat-Jacob became more aware on how to act among the different cultures. The accordion was like an incentive to travel and create connections with people, and just like the accordion, the drum set plays a critical role on how Andrew gains character and a long lasting friendship. Andrew uses the drum sets to not only play musical notes the way the director desires but uses it as a tool to show his personality. Therefore, it depicts how music becomes a certain language to communicate between humans without using words. Andrew had to make his message across to his director to get him as the first string to play the drum set at competitions. He used his ability to harmonize with his drum challenge himself and get to the position he wished to be.

Although music is a commonly a passion that people enjoy, it constantly is becoming a source to demonstrate one self-abilities and to communicate. Whiplash might not be fully concentrated on the theme of music being a communication resource but it definitely can depict the lives of musicians who have a passion to make it a full time job.

SOURCES: “Whiplash.” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2015.
“Whiplash TRAILER 1 (2014) – J.K. Simmons, Miles Teller Movie HD.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 05 Sept. 2015.
Lortat-Jacob, Bernard. Sardinian Chronicles. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1995. Print.