“Strange Sounds: Music, Technology and Culture” by Taylor


Globalization is widely regarded as one of the main influences that have shaped the contemporary world. In addition to its direct impact on the political and economic realms it also has an impact observed in the social, cultural and artistic realms which includes music. But, the relationship between globalization and music is one of the less popular subjects for those researching globalization and its effects consequently it is not given enough attention in the academic literature. The paper below provides evidence to show that, beginning in the latter part of the 1980s the pop music genre was taking on ethnic elements previously been restricted to certain genres. This phenomenon can be explained by the globalization process.


The link with globalization in relation to music seems as promising as the other social and cultural manifestations of its effects. In this paper we argue that the globalization’s rise led to the creation of a brand new music genre in the process of events. It also eventually transformed the pop genre’s broad spectrum of music, increasing its consistency and variety.

Globalization and Cultural Uniformity

Before we tackle the primary thesis of the paper it is essential to focus on the main feature of globalization that is responsible for the observed impact in promoting the uniformity of culture. Although the primary objectives of globalization is to bring the benefits of economic growth through facilitating trading and co-operation, achievement of both is ultimately dependent on the efficacy of communication which is, in turn, dependent on the proficiency of the culture and sharing of knowledge.

Globalization has been long credited with the development of a more homogeneous cultural space. Some scholars point out the dominance of American notions and values in this process and propose alternatives such as Americanization , or McDonaldization to highlight the effects (Pieterse 2015). This argument is not widely accepted because many evidences support the notion that cultural influence is multi-directional and, therefore, the resultant cultural space is able to absorb aspects of the various different cultures to the extent they are exposed (Pieterse 2015). Thus, it is appropriate to think of the shifts in music genres as a result of globalization-related cultural convergence.

Early Development

One of the main results of globalization is growing awareness of foreign culture and simultaneously growing access to the manifestations of these culture. The effect can be observed in the development of music throughout time, including increasing introductions of various ethnic themes in popular genres as well as the development of new genres. It is nevertheless important to recognize that there was a presence in music of different culture was evident throughout Western societies for lengthy period of time (e.g. music from jazz and Hawaiian guitar and the rumba) however, the change in globalization coincided with the development of a separate music genre that is now known in the world of music.

It also had a number of characteristics which allowed it to be viewed as an individual part of the phenomenon instead of being the continuation of an earlier trend. In the first place, rather than having the characteristics of being “pure” (i.e., closest to the original standards as is possible) the world music amalgamated certain key traits with a variety of brand different ones, and was modified to suit the preferences of the Western crowd. The second reason was that it took advantage of the combination of traditional themes and elements from the old style that was pop, reaching out to a wider audience and proving the concept of originality.

Additionally, musicians who worked with the style, like Peter Gabriel and Brendan Perry often employed unusual musical instruments in order to play standard music patterns, which allowed them to create a distinct sound while still appealing for a broad public. Overall, even though it was original and clearly resembling traditional music the world music type was more diverse and showed more variety than other genres at the time and resulted in its increasing popularity, and a tiny but growing fan base.

The convergence of Pop Music

The diversity of music from around the globe matched perfectly with the homogenizing characteristics that pop music has, which is a prominent leader who established itself as a leading force in establishing both economic and cultural trends. The reality that the world music scene veered away from strict boundaries and was centered around the broadening of the characteristics rather than focusing on the roots of music was a factor that made it easy to adapt by pop musicians who embraced similar ideas (Panteli, Bittner, Bello, & Dixon, 2017).

In the 1990s, many pop artists used elements originally thought to be exclusive to indigenous music. One of the most well-known instances is Deep Forest, a project which began in 1992 mixing contemporary electronica with recordings of African songs and indigenous tribal songs (Taylor 2014). The rhythm that is used in the songs resulted is consistent with the fast-paced tempo typical that is characteristic of both techno and EDM and the minimal harmony structure is reminiscent of the synthetic sounds from the underground scene (Arnett 2015).).

In the same way the music samples utilized throughout the songs clearly refer to the cultures from West Africa and, due to their dance-related origins will fit in with the general structure of modern-day genres. While the music is clearly oriented towards dance music the project eventually gained notoriety for its exotic sound and was asked to contribute on a variety of film soundtracks.

Others took a more subtle approach. Instead of emphasizing boldly the newly added elements, they decided to incorporate these elements as quietly as was possible, and to compose music in which the elements of diverse cultures could be distinguished from their Western base.

An excellent illustration of this style is Sting’s 1999 hit single “Desert Rose.” While the musical techniques employed in the song are in line with the current standards of pop music, it also contains a segment from an Algerian Rai track performed by Cheb Mami and also examples of traditional instruments that are featured in the song. Although some critics were critical of the inclusion and described the track as having a vibe of world music but the vast majority of people who heard it interpreted it as a standard pop track (Hammond 2005).).

The song was a huge hit by reaching the top 20 billboards in a variety of countries and being re-released on several remix albums across Europe. Particularly the Rai song’s chant was preserved in every version, even versions that had significant modifications to the song’s tempo and beat. This is a testament to the force of the connection that was formed between ethnic and popular elements in music at the period.

At exactly the same moment, similar changes could be seen on the European music scene. The genre that was popular at the time, reggae re-entered the dance genre of pop music during the 1990s in the beginning in the 1990s, with “All That She Wants” by Ace of Base probably the most well-known instance. The track was quickly followed by other artists like Mr. President and Mr. President, and the resultant genre was later referred to as euro-reggae (in connection to the genre’s parent, Eurodance). However most European musicians soon began to adopt reggae elements but still maintaining an old-fashioned sound, making the distinction irrelevant.

Current State

The progression described is not over. The advanced nations retain the majority of the capacity to set trends as nearly all the important music label companies are located within their boundaries. However they aren’t immune to the effects of culture of globalization. Possibly the impact of these changes is more significant than it has ever been. The above-mentioned cultural convergence is evident in many ways in our daily lives. And as is to be expected music is a quick reflection of the shifts.

Shakira’s hit song “Waka-Waka,” written as an official track for the FIFA World Cup in 2010 It features African themes both in the musical choices and vocals. Although the song was marred by controversy in the midst of its release but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that it’s aimed to reflect the ideals of inclusivity and diversity of sports across the globe. Indeed, the controversy proves that in this particular situation in 2010, the elements of the official FIFA World Cup song are nearly inevitable.

The growing influence of media is also a contributing factor to the effects. The combination of traditional folklore and popular music, which is usually categorized in accordance to the country of its origin (e.g., Korean pop) is now both visible significant and daring on the international scene. An analysis by Bekhuis Lubbers as well as Ultee (2014) revealed that these genres are popular in their local locales, and that the effect of globalization may actually enhance the impact. However, due to the popularity facilitated through the Web and the exposure to different genres of fusion creates interpenetration between different elements, and also homogenizes contemporary pop music from all over the world.


Globalization has created a more culturally diverse environment by exposing people and communities to the other’s influences, and triggering the development of new aspects. The following information describes the process described in music beginning with individual merging that led to the creation of several subgenres, with the world music being one of the more popular. But, as time passed the boundaries between the genres began to blur, and they came together to form what we call pop music.

While the method is in its early stages, it has produced a product that is different substantially from the one that was created thirty years ago, and it is plausible to anticipate further developments to this regard in the near future.

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