On the great world stage

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History is the meeting of all the histories of the peoples of the hidden face of the earth, projected onto the great world stage.
Edouard Glissant, in conversation with Laure Adler (on the television programme Les grands entretiens du Cercle)

Glissant borrowed the term from Aimé Césaire. Which was not by chance. The huge forced blending that took place in the West Indies prefigures what is taking place, and what will continue take place, « on the great world stage ». And it is not by chance that people are dancing to West Indian music all over the world.
But as soon as you question the ever-so problematic relation between music and business, one obvious fact hits you in the face: given the commercial logic that guides the globalized planet, original African music is not given a high price. Let’s leave the question of authenticity aside – a notion which immediately leads us down the slippery slope of identity fixations – in favour of originality. That is to say, the possibility of conserving a trace of one’s origins in the big musical melting pot, in the united colors of prefabricated trends and concepts invented producers on the look-out for a hit.
This is the trace that interests us (we called our Caribbean Music dossier in issue 8, « black traces »). It is in these traces that the imagination we are referring to manifests itself. Instead of an established certitude about one’s own identity, instead of an ideology which does nothing but perpetuate the old order of things and excludes the other, the open, perhaps even ambiguous, intuition – in any case, not systematic nor sectarian – of a plural world whose music opens us to the elsewhere, thereby better enabling us to return to our source.
We willingly dance to world music, but not to crass mishmashes which jumble and mix everything together so that nothing can be discerned anymore. It is possible to blend without making a muddle, to exchange without losing oneself or selling out. « A plural identity is not an absence of identity », says Glissant again.
It is thus that music conveys the languages and knowledge, memory and questions of the peoples of the hidden faces of the earth, who have so much to share.
It is thus that they can describe the world.

///Article N° : 5456

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