One of the side effects of traveling mostly by bus and shared taxi is that you get exposed to local music. Since I feel quite strongly about music I feel compelled to write an entry about the music I have heard in Africa and Asia. To put it bluntly the local modern music I have had no choice but to hear during my travels was abysmally bad. Don't get me wrong, I am not criticizing traditional music here. Although I usually don't like it either I don't think I have the right to judge it. I am talking about the horrors that passes for pop music in Africa and Asia. Let's face it, pop music is bad to begin with in Western society. But when it gets mixed with non-Western influence, the results are invariably a sickeningly sweet sound that seems to come straight out of an 80's keyboard (probably because it does. I have heard Tibetan pop music and seen some performances, and I can tell, that the music is composed by using pre-programmed beats on the keyboard, coupled with pre-programmed music controlled by a few accords, and the hack calling himself an artist just sings over this abomination). The problem as I see it is that non-Western societies want to copy European and US music, and, of all the Western music styles that exist, African and Asian musicians choose to copy pop music. Pop! They didn't have the decency to choose jazz, rock or even hip hop. No, they choose pop and everybody here likes it. For a while I started despairing about the human race as a whole, but then I decided to give mankind the benefit of the doubt and blamed it on the overwhelming influence of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) instead. I don't think that anybody anywhere (except for lawyers because it's their job and they're paid for it) will argue that the RIAA represents everything that's gone wrong in the music industry. Thus, to save local cultures, the big companies like Universal, Sony and Bertelsmann must go down! I therefore encourage all of you to engage in as much music sharing as you can. Remember, it is ok to break the law if it is for the good of mankind.
To end this entry on a more positive note I want to say that I heard some really good Arabic rap in Cairo and some acceptable Thai reggae here in Bangkok. There is hope...