‘No man is an island’ and ‘For whom the bell tolls’ are two metaphors that surged in 1624 under the pen of English poet and cleric John Donne in his book ‘Meditation 17’, in a poem which observes that “..every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main…“.
NO ART GENRE IS AN ISLAND
Just as all new technology builds on previous ones, so any artistic genre draws on earlier artistic expressions. In painting, leaders of the Rennaissance, Romanticism and Realism art schools such as El Greco, Francisco Goya, William Turner and Gustave Courbet laid the stones for subsequent genres such as Impressionism (~1850s-1900s) and Expressionism (~1890s-1940s).
NO MUSIC GENRE IS AN ISLAND
The same goes for music genre. The 1960s’ British beat owes to the 50s’ US rock, reggae is shaped by Jamaican rocksteady which itself is inspired by the late 50s’ US R&B, just as the 20th Century Congolese rumba is inspired by Cuban rumba which itself built on the legacy of Congolese sounds exported by the 18th century slavery. That musical genres are interconnected and intertwined is a mere fatality, as no genre is an island and as fusions know no limit. Thus, the future cannot be written as to the persistent or temporary shine of music genres. And as for ‘.. the agonizing reality of life that all beauty decays in time..’ (ref. 1993 David Bowie interview), it just reflects the fact that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, and that all eyes are bound to degrade over time.
FOR WHICH SONG THE BELL TOLLS
For all we know, the life of a song derives from connection, resilience, inherent viral reproductive power, metamorphosis potential and chance. The three versions of the song ‘O Sarracino‘ (orig. 1957) by the Napolitan artists Renato Carosone (1957), Franco Ricciardi (2009) and Gigi D’Alessio (2015) are uplifting illustrations thereof. Jimi Hendrix’s acclaimed cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘All along the watchtower‘ (1967) and Soft Cell’s little known but remarkable synth-pop cover of the song ‘Hey Joe’ are also eloquent in this regard.
All along the watchtower 1968 Jimi Hendrix (USA)
Hey Joe 1983 Soft Cell (UK)
RITUAL & CELEBRATION WORLD MUSIC
Wold music broadly disseminates ethnic expressions of life. On all continents, its use in rituals and celebrations is unmistakably present, as showcased in the two masterpieces hereunder.
Sergey Starostin, modern Russian, Sámi and Tuvan folk music, Russia, 1997
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, singer of Qawwali, Sufi devotional music, Punjab, Pakistan, 1990