What do you think of when you hear the term “world music”? Many consumers
of contemporary American music, whether mainstream or indie, probably think of annoyingly
high-pitched unnamable instruments, ethereal new-age soundscapes, or the soundtrack
to a bad Antonio Banderas movie. They may have never listened to a world station
on the radio, or sampled a featured world artist in a music store.The other half of Tower Records, where the classical and “other” genres
lay, is unexplored territory. This section caters to a very specific audience, an
audience that many young people do not see themselves fitting in with. Considering
the affect that American music has had on music abroad, and the affect that it has
had on us, this is surprising. Genres that have defined the tastes of so many youths
in America (i.e. rock, punk, folk, blues, jazz etc.) have been adapted and changed
by artists abroad, and molded into new sounds. That influencing, blending, and recreating
has lead to a nice little genre called “world fusion” or “world beat,”
a genre in which one could find something that probably relates directly to their
personal musical tastes.
If you enjoy Celtic
and folk, punk rock and blues,
you may like the work of Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie
Both from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia,
Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster have drawn influences from the same source:
the Celtic and Scottish-drawn music of their native area. MacMaster’s Uncle, Buddy
MacMaster, is one of Cape Breton’s most famous fiddlers and an influence for both
his niece and MacIsaac. However, MacMaster leans towards a more traditional sound
and fuses her music with that of folk and bluegrass…while MacIsaac takes his fiddling
on a more contemporary route with blues and rock.
has only recently combined her work with that of well-known bluegrass musicians,
but her connection with folk has been long-standing. Creating an upbeat, rhythm-heavy
sound, MacMaster has taken traditional Celtic fiddling to a new level by building
a highly energetic sound and introducing instruments from other folk genres; including
the banjo, mandolin, and dobro. The energy of the music shows in her performance
as well – one of her primary characteristics is that she dances onstage while playing,
often clogging intricate steps to her own music.
latest style, while energetic and contemporary, is still very rooted in folk. It
is the perfect blend of Celtic and bluegrass for anyone who enjoys those two genres.