Why would a punk band popular only in Indonesia cut songs in no other language than English? If you're rapping in Tanzania and Malawi, where hip hop has a growing audience, what do you rhyme in? Swahili? Chichewa? English? Some combination of these?
Global Pop, Local Language examines how performers and audiences from a wide range of cultures deal with the issue of language choice and dialect in popular music.
Related issues confront performers of Latin music in the U.S., drum and bass MCs in Toronto, and rappers, rockers, and traditional folk singers from England and Ireland to France, Germany, Belarus, Nepal, China, New Zealand, Hawaii, and beyond.
For pop musicians, this issue brings up a number of complex questions. Which languages or dialects will best express my ideas? Which will get me a record contract or a bigger audience? What does it mean to sing or listen to music in a colonial language? A foreign language? A regional dialect? A "native" language?
Examining popular music from a range of world cultures, the authors explore these questions and use them to address a number of broader issues, including the globalization of the music industry, the problem of authenticity in popular culture, the politics of identity, multiculturalism, and the emergence of English as a dominant world language. The chapters are written in a highly accessible style by scholars from a variety of fields, including ethnomusicology, popular music studies, anthropology, culture studies, literary studies, folklore, and linguistics.
Harris M. Berger is associate professor of music at Texas A&M University. He is the author of Metal, Rock and Jazz: Perception and the Phenomenology of Musical Experience (1999).
Michael Thomas Carroll is professor of English at New Mexico Highlands University. He is the author of Popular Modernity in America: Experience, Technology, Mythohistory (2000) and co-editor, with Eddie Tafoya, of Phenomenological Approaches to Popular Culture (2000).