Mixed messages: Unsettled cosmopolitanisms in Nepali pop

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Throughout Asia, the English word "mix" (or variants thereof) is being used today to characterize a new mode of musical borrowing and syncretism distinctive of several pop musics that have emerged in the 1990s. Earlier modes of pop music borrowing typically involved timbral, rhythmic, and melodic adaptations of both indigenous and foreign materials, in which contrasts between different musical elements were smoothed over so that they could be integrated into unified musical expressions. In contrast, the new "mix" music of India (Greene 2000:545-546), Nepal (Greene 1999a; Henderson 1999), Japan (Condry 1999), Indonesia (Wallach 1999), and the South Asian diasporic communities (Manuel 1995) employs the latest soundstudio technologies to reproduce the precise timbres, rhythms, and tunings of sound bites of both foreign pop and indigenous music more precisely than ever before. Yet as these foreign and indigenous sounds come more sharply into focus in Asian soundscapes, their meanings and histories seem to be going out of focus. For one thing, a "mix" commonly takes the form of a sonic montage: abrupdy juxtaposed musical styles heard in rapid succession that project only a weak sense of overarching form. In this "mix" configuration, foreign and indigenous sounds sometimes present themselves as inscrutable sound bites - snippets detached from their original musical and cultural contexts. Mixes typically celebrate sonic contrasts rather than attempting to reach or move the listener within any single musical idiom. Moreover, foreign sounds travel to Asia so quickly through radio, music television, recordings, and the Internet that they are detached from their histories and original cultural contexts and often present themselves as suggestive, intriguing, but ultimately underdetermined cultural indexes. This point is taken up below in the analysis of Nepali heavy metal, one of the elements in the mix. Both western pop and indigenous sounds become perspectival constructs, taking on a range of meanings and affective forces in different listener experiences. Mix music embodies new, understudied, and essentially postmodern musical aesthetics (in the sense of Manuel 1995) that have taken root in Asian and other world communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWired for Sound
Subtitle of host publicationEngineering and Technologies in Sonic Cultures
PublisherWesleyan University Press
Pages198-221
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9780819565167
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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    Greene, P. D. (2005). Mixed messages: Unsettled cosmopolitanisms in Nepali pop. In Wired for Sound: Engineering and Technologies in Sonic Cultures (pp. 198-221). Wesleyan University Press.