Thursday, June 5, 2008

Listening To The World, A Look at Andean Music

In a world dominated by super powers, retreating to the world of art and music provides another dimension. There is a democracy to human, natural and artistic beauty. Countries that are at less advanced stages of economic development often have an irreplaceable contribution to make in the field of art or music. Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador share a common indigenous language of Quechua and unique musical forms. When the Spaniards conquered South America, Quechua lost its political dominance.
To this day, the advantage a person enjoys in many South American countries is in direct proportion to the percentage of Spanish ancestry in their family tree. In looking at many countries in South America, we have a yardstick by which America can be measured in the area of race relations. A person's value as a human being should be measured criteria other than their place in the economy. This is a universal message of religious faith.
The world is fortunate that Andean languages and music have not been lost. To the contrary, Andean music played on indigenous instruments enjoys a widespread popularity in Europe and in North America as well. There is a cultural movement known as "cancion nueva" in which musical forms indigenous to South America are laced with a leftist nationalist political message. A recurring theme in " cancion nueva" is the idea that local culture should not be traded for an ideologically shallow mass produced import. It is the artistic manifestation of a local national pride that in cancion nueva has some strong socialist overtones.
For me, cancion nueva was an example of how I should regard Jewish culture in a world in which American and western cultural norms predominate. I believe that whatever your ethnicity might be, the best gift you can give the world is to be yourself. Although I reject the class warfare that is popular in developing countries, I strongly believe they should preserve their languages and traditions in the face of mass marketed music and film. America would do well to listen to and appreciate the music of Latin America, Africa and the world and use our country's marketing infrastructure to mirror the world's beauty back to it. It is a high level of giving to tell a person that they are in possession of a treasure. America should listen to the world at least as much as the world listens to it. The democracy of beauty is an ideal to strive for. It is an idea that can add to peace in the world. A central mission of this web site will be to provide such a reflection.

copyright 2008 on comments only. videos from You Tube are El Atardecer de los Andes (above)
and "I'll Be Your Mirror" by the Velvet Underground"

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