Almost anyone knows more than I do about punk, Country, film music, and so on. But when I write about them, however naively, my own narrow classical upbringing only serves as a reminder of what a very basic part of the soundscape all such popular genres are for anyone born since around 1900. This is just as true for WAM performers or the Li family Daoists—and even scholars who interpret them.
Hence the growing role of popular music in ethnomusicology since at least the 1960s; from Wilfrid Mellers on the Beatles or the wide-ranging studies of Susan McClary, to all the important work on genres in Asia and Africa, and so on. We really can’t bury our heads (ears) in the sand any longer.
I come back to “delighting in all manifestations of the Terpischorean muse“: Amy Winehouse, Erbarme dich, and Daoist ritual really do deserve to be part of the same celebration.
That’s very different from the old cliché of “music is an international language”. For better and for worse, it really isn’t: in any tiny region of the world there is incomprehension—and that’s what I’d like to overcome.