Harmonium in the Western World

The creation of a musical instrument is usually based on the limits of ability, on the presence of response towards a certain technological challenge upon a particular society’s culture and era, or could also be triggered by some technological ‘leap’, such as what is happening in this current digitalization technology era of ours. On the other hand, in certain cases the discovery of a musical instrument related to technology, such as that which has happened in the development of the pipe organ, it turns out that this would need more than 1000 years for others to become inspired, to come to realization, to fullfil its potential. The discoverer of the first pipe organ, Hydraulis, named Ctesibius from Alexandria, Greece (300-230 SM) used hydraulic mechanism to stabilize wind bursts. But it was only at around the 14th century (somewhere around the year 1360) that Europeans further developed and kept modifying up to the 20th century. In other words, musical instruments would only finally get their chance to be created when the instruments’ supporting technologies have become ready, after going through various and long testing processes, and after all the elements needed have become integrated as has happened in the industrial revolution era.

The creation of a musical instrument opens new possibilities for man to more freely imagine using desired sounds which were previously difficult to produce. Even sounds that were previously inexistent or had never been imagined before. But the main motivation for man to create musical instruments is to create sounds based on his experiences and abilities to mimic sounds which he had previously ‘known’ before, either in his physical realm or mental, for the purpose of fulfilling his deepest desires. When observed, the creation of a certain musical instrument, in its truest meaning, really happens quite rarely indeed. What is most often achieved by people (especially in the West) is the mimicry, modification, improvement/perfection of an instrument to complement and build upon their already existing library of musical instruments. In the Western musical culture, the lute came from the oudh (Middle East), harmonium (and her related instruments) are developed from the sheng (or cheng) from China, these are a few examples of the Western people’s exploration of musical instruments from the 13th to the 20th century in continuity.

Within a musical instrument, there are contained particular principles, concepts, and technologies. When it enters into a particular musical realm the concepts within the instruments (either consciously or not) often times give influences to those who would adopt these instruments. When the party adopting realizes its potential, a musical instrument may be able to answer some technological problems that they were facing, and implement solutions as needed. When domestication of a certain musical instrument is done, then the society that receives it carries out various functional adjustments in accordance to the technical, conceptual, and aesthetic needs that they have. Therefore (it would seem strange), why did the Europeans adopt ideas from ‘other’ states, such as the sheng with its soft sound, instead of the bagpipes whose sound-producing principles are the same (based on reeds, and using air controlling bellows) but sound more harsh. This despite the fact that bagpipes are considered quite familiar among the Europeans since the middle of the 13th century, and they also know of these kinds of instruments from other cultures (North Africa, Persian Gulf, and Caucaus). Are the character of ‘soft’ sound, as in the sheng’s sound principles, or is it because of the air-distributing bellow design which creates sounds ‘similar’ to organs? Or does all of the above inspire the Europeans?

There are various methods by which people could adapt to the musical instruments which they adopt, and they do not always modify the construction of said instruments. What most often happens is they form a method or habit of playing the instrument in a way that they feel most comfortable and unencumbered to express themselves using said instruments. The violin playing method at various societies at various geographical locations are not the same as is commonly done by Europeans (who place them above their shoulder, next to the neck, stretching out to the side), but instead is placed in front of the shoulder, pointing down (which is usually classified as the way people play the fiddle). In Papua, Indonesia, they put the contrabass down on the flor, and they play their music by plucking or by using a mallet, and the adjustment of tone is done using the heel (instead of using the fingers of the hands). This music is called tifa and is used to accompany their youth dance, Yosin Pancar. In Java, the musicians of Kroncong play the cello by plucking them with their fingers, to represent the sounds of Kendhang (two sided drum, in accompaniment of two other stringed instruments, the cak and the cuk, who have their roles in rhythmic sub-divisions). In musical instruments which have no fixed division of note boundaries such as violins and cellos, this makes it easier for musicians to apply their own musical instruments upon those instruments.

Between man and his instruments there ideally exists a reciprocal back and forth relationship. Not only would the musical instrument give influence upon (inspire, change musical concept, or form) the user, but the user too could transform the musical instrument; either physically, in notation scale, sound character, or in the way the instrument is physically used. Such as how the Europeans respond to the ideas contained within the Sheng musical instrument by carrying out several significant transformations. The sheng, which was supposed to be played by blowing using the mouth, the sheng’s wind needs are modified to use a keyboard so that it would be easier to play. The bellows are replaced by a solid box, and would apply a pump system which would make it more possible to make the instrument sound however the player would want. This modification was done by Europeans unfamiliar with the blowing technique using circular breathing as was commonly used as a technique for playing wind instruments by Eastern nations. Besides the arrangement of notes within keyboard keys are more comfortable for Europeans, enabling them to more easily visualize the music structure being played.

These facts above shows that people tend to respond the musical instruments we adopt in accordance to our limits and needs, and also in alignment with the possibilities given by these musical instruments, in order to express our desires within through music.

Rumors which bring inspiration, and the idea of Harmonium’s creation

In addition to China, similar kinds of mouth organ instruments are also found in several Asian countries, such as among the Laotian people, Thailand (khene); Japan (shō); and the Dayak of Kalimantan, Indonesia (the kledi or kedire) centuries before the European were introduced to them. The adoption of the sheng into the harmonium did not happen instantly within the mind of its makers. The harmonium inspired by the musical instrument sheng (or cheng) from China is often thought to be a pipeless organ or reed organ. There are several versions of the story how sheng, this musical instrument classifyable as a mouth organ came to inspire Europe. It is recorded that since the 13 centuri we know that Marco Polo had brought this musical instrument to Central Europe, while another version says that this musical instrument was brought by the Tartar through Russia in their migration. These two versions are probably both true, besides contact between Chinese and Europeans related to sheng either in diplomatic or personall connections happen separately at several nations (for example in France). Because of this, the effort to develop a free reed aerophone happened simultaneously at several European nations at related times. Elements within the sheng instruments adoped by the Europeans are the soundmaking instruments of free reed and the mechanism of air distribution which cause vibration. 

New instrument development based on free reed; a technological challenge

Whatever triggered the idea, the significant change in the development of free reed aerophones which then resulted in the harmonium (and several of its cousins) are the holistic constructions of this instrument which encompass the keyboard mechanism for triggering sounds, the air bellows, and the clasps controlling the air holes. But the process of harmonium’s birth travelled through a long journey along with the development processes of its supporting technologie3s, though at the same periode pipe organ technological progress had also developed as it is within a relatively larger physical size, with difficult and expensive maintenance. Elements adopted from the pipe organ implemented in the harmonium among others are the keyboard and the soundbox with the air creation mechanisms (bellows) which developed on from the 14th century. The first keyboards in music was first used in the clavichord famous in the 14th century (which then developed into the spinet harpsichord, pianoforte, and piano). The South Corp pipe organ in Duomo di Milano (which now uses 16,000 pipes), historically began at the same era, which is around the year 1395 (continuously experiencing renovation and modification well into the 1990s)

In the Renaissance era, when the music instrument developed from a mere accompaniment of song and dance, musicians began using the instrument as a solo performance and created specific compositions for specific instruments. Starting at that time the Europeans (and Americans) kept developing ther mechanical technologies further. Between the 16th to the middle of the 17 century, there was then developed several new musical instruments such as the violin, saxophone, etc., including several instruments more experimental in nature such as the lituus, serpent, glass armonica and several other instruments famous on their eras.

The first sound instrument known with a free reed source was known to be in Europe in 1619 (Michael Preatorius, Sytagma Musicum II, De Organographia). But this invention, perhaps inspired by sheng, was forgotten. Marin MersAnne in 1636, in his letter described the sheng as a free reed instrument. This then shows Europe’s introduction to the principle of freee reed music instrument. More or less one century laters, sheng was introduced by Johann Wilde to Russian Court Society at St. Petersbur in 1740. And on 1779, after having often watched Johann Wilde play the sheng, physicist Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein from Copenhagen became fascinated by the instrument. Kratzenstein then conducted tests on the sheng sound and successfully created an instrument capable of producing free reed-based sounds, and received award from the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Kirsnik, the organ maker who helped Kratzenstein experiment with free reed, made a musical instrument with organ-style keyboard, played with the dominant hand and bellows operated by the other hand, which came to be known as the kirsnik Harmonica. Up to 1810 the free reed instrument had not been really appreciated by European society, until Grenie removed pipes from the organ, replacing them with reeds. This creation of his became the first musical instrument applying free reed with bellows that as a musical instrument looks different. In the year 1816 Johann Bushmann, an organ maker fromn germany, introduced his Terpodion creation, another free reed keyboard which predates the harmonica and harmonium. These are of course but one version of how things are described in how Europeans journeyed their exploration of harmonium, which of course was also done at other European countries at either the same time or later on.

On the one hand we can understand why the process of harmonium’s invention was so long and meandering. They calculated the various possibilities for implementing a playing method (by blowing, various buttons to trigger sounds, etc.), as well as the creation of supporting tools and the construction of the musical instruments. From sheng’s first introduction in Europe from the 13th century up to the 19th they kept studying, and developing technological possibilities, until they were technically able to create supporting tools with consistent quality, until finally mass producing them. Especially in designing a set of reeds of small and thin enough whose size difference one from another measures in the millimeter. But the hardest part in fact is in getting a consistent series of reed sizes with spacing patterns in accordance to the needed tonal scale.

Therefore the musical instrument makers gave their full attention to construction materials and workmanship, so that their creations would become adequate collectible items at private homes and museums. Such expertise highlights their position (the instrument makers) and how integrated their field of study was to the related academic worlds (physics, architecture, and acoustics).

Pipe Organ

Ever since hydraulics was discovered around 2nd century BC, it was not until sometime between the 6th or 7th century AD were bellows used to pump wind into organs. This device was adopted from metalworkers who use them to increase the temperature of fire furnaces in the creation of various metal tools. At the beginning of the 12th century the organ began developing into a much more complex musical instrument with the capability of producing different timbres. And on the 17th century the sounds produced by the more contemporary classical organ had been developed using mechanical movement devices in order to produce a more varied sound from various different pipe types. The large volume (of the pipes) and the wind producing mechanisms made this instrument to become the larges musical instrument in size and range from ever since the 14th century. This instrument was classified as one of Man’s most complex creations before the Industrial Revolution. The size of the pipe organs varied from single short keyboards with limited tonal range all the way to large devices with up to 20,000 pipes, sizing from a cubic meter all the way to five floors large built integrally within churches, synagogues, concert halls, and houses. The smaller organs were called positives (which were more easily transported between locations), or portatives (easier to bring along).

But this device required high maintenance costs and were difficult to maintain, and so it were only large and rich institutions that were able to maintain and use them. And therefore in tin 140s pipe organ makers gravitated towards using pneumatic devices to reduce the use of mechanical operations, and then in the 1860s it was followed by the use of electro-pneumatic operations which made it possible for keys to controll the opening of each clasp on each pipe. Until the 1920s when this electro-pneumatic mechanism began to be abandoned, replaced by electromagnets and relay tools which made the pipe organ easier to control in operation with the use of adjustment buttons. This system is related to organs using diode couplers.

A pipe organ uses keyboards (called manuals) played with the hand, and pedalboards played with the foot, each having their own group of stops which link them to pipe holes. The large modern organ usually uses three or four keyboards each with a range of five octaves (61 notes), and a two-and-a-half octave (32 note) pedalboard. The sounds produced not only originated from pipes, but also from the resulting resonances with its surrounding environmental acoustics (the space where the pipe organ spreads its sounds), in contrast to the electric organ whose sound is produced from loudspeakers. The environmental architecture where this musical instrument resides is usually designed in accordance to the size, shape and room acoustic considerations, and the capacity of the musical instrument in question. Over the next periods (after the birth of the harmonium) the organ experienced a hybridized development, where pipes became complementary together with the addition of electronic devices which continue to shrink the size and cost of making organs (when pipes have been replaced.)


The term and the musical instrument Harmonium was born in Paris on August 9th, 1840, created by Alexandre Debain. Debain’s creation was a new approach, which transformed the reed organ industry which grew over several following decades due to sound quality and to how it was able to be mass-produced.

The Harmonium, invented in Europe, is a musical instrument shaped like a box somewhat similar to organs who use keyboards with sound-producing principles based on free reeds vibrated using wind (by blowing). Therefore this device is classified as a free reed-aerophone. Other similar instruments, such as the melodeon, and the reed organ (parlor organ, pump organ, cabinet organ, cottage organ, etc.), they produce their airflow by way of suction, as invented and used in America. While on other musical instruments related to the harmonium such as the harmonica, concertina, bandoneón, accordion, and the Russian bayan (a type of accordion), airflow is produced using both blowing and suction. Where the harmonium is more often used at homes and churches (particularly poorer ones) or at chapels to accompany religious activities, the accordion (and similar) are more used by categories of commoner/popular musics in the local socio-cultural activities, especially in Europe and America. The harmonium (and related) were created by a spirit of experimentation, and due to the growing need for the creation of church organs but with a price range more affordable to the wider population.

The reed harmonium (and its relatives) were made of metals (brass or steel) shaped as flat plates whose one of its ends were permanently affixed (rigid frame) so that their other ends would freely vibrate when blown over by wind. The pitch (how high each note) from each reed was fixed in accordance to their particular length and width, where the bigger the reed the lower the note produced and vice versa. One set of reeds were arranged in semitonal note scale and consisted of several octaves. The fixed reed sets were affixed onto frame holes without any gaps. When the wind blows on (or sucks), a ree will move in the direction of the wind and then bounce back to the opposite direction, and so on moving back and forth for so long as the wind is puped. This situation in real situations is when the reed vibrates, and the air pressure produced by the reed’s swinging back and forth upon the frame holes created a tone in accordance to the reed in question.

The keyboard keys each is connected to each note. When a key is pressed, airflow modifying mechanisms would open up, and when bellows pump wind would be produced and would cause related reeds to vibrate and produce sound. The wind produced by the mechanism and the air pump mechanisms (bellows) were operated by hand or feet. On harmoniums with hand bellows (which are located at the back), one hand pumps while the other hand (generally the dominant hand) plays the keyboard keys; the musical instrument would either be placed on a table while the instrumentalist sits on a chair, or the musical instrument is placed on the floor and the musician sits cross-legged on the floor (as is common in Eastern cultures). Meanwhile with the harmonium whose bellows are foot-operated, both hands are free to play the keyboard, with the musician sitting on a chair.

The shared trait of the harmonium and the pipe organ (whose system is much more complex) are they both operate on wind. Where the harmonium uses multi-sized reeds, the pipe organ uses multi-sized pipes to create a desired tonal scale. Similar with the harmonium, an organ needs a series of pipes arranged in semitonal note scales, but it has a much wider tonal range in comparison to the harmonium, both in its lowest and highest notes. The pipe organ uses the sound-making principle from a whistle and reed constructed from equipment mechanisms considerably the most complex for its era. Not as complex as the pipe organ, the harmonium basically uses the same system in the manner of its airflow management system from the keys to the holes manipulating the sound at each reed. The continuation of the sound is also the same as with the pipe organ which is it continues to sound so long as the bellows are pumped and the keys are pressed.

As the musical and technological developments progressed from the 18th century up to the time of World War 1, music based on this free reed had an opportunity for development into becoming a compact, durable, and easily maintainable instrument. The European people themselves would only come to accept the harmonium around the middle of the 1800s. The Europeans required a long process of understanding, situations and triggers which opened the possibilities so that this instrument would come to be created, mass produced, and appreciated by its society.

Twelfth semitone equal tempered

In the 1600s various opinions and speculations developed regarding the arrangement of the tonal relationship system of the octave range, to receive the ideal cyclical (fifth or fourth) range between notes. The source of musical science authority in development up to the 16th century is De Muisica written by Boethius (6th century AD) who promoted Pythagoras’ harmonic doctrines (550 BC) that audible music is the physical form of mathematical principles (harmonia) which governs the relationship between all important elements in nature. He divides the length of a certain length of string into several fractional proportions in order to receive frequency ratios from two notes such as the following 1:1 (unison or prime), 2:1 (octave), 3:2 (perfect fifth), 4:3 (perfect fourth), etc. This system was used to explain intervals within Western and other music. This method was also often used in just intonation and in the theoretical explanation of equal tempered interval as used in European tonal music.

But then at the beginning of the 16th century several musicians declared the harmonic tradition to be no longer relevant. The composers have encountered a practical problem in the tuning of the keyboard (particularly concerning the difference within the octave notes), modulation between keys, and in the confirmation of its compositional system. Musicians playing musical instruments with a fixed pitch such as the keyboard and lute realize that in a polyphonic music composition created for two or more parts with notes in the Pythagorean scale, they become inconsistent in small numeric ratios. These conflicts between musical practice and theory then played an important role in pushing the reemergence of experimental science. From the Enlightenment era music was classified within the fine and performing arts. Up to around the 1700s when music (as is art) is considered a science, in the meaning of that they are a systematic constellation of theories wich include practical and speculative aspects. An the experimentalists executed various experiments to find the codified relationship between the physical realm and music. One of these is their attempt to create divisions of scale based on 19, 24, 48, 53 and other larger numbers of notes, which at the end failed to produce anything. And then the twelfth semitone equal temperament was finally found as the solution for the basis of notational scale on musical instruments and compositional structure of western music. Because the division based on 12 notes whose (half-)note range are divided equally within an octave, this is what was considered most optimal, though it would mean the sacrifice of certain notes at certain scales.

Harmonium Usage.

At the very least ever since the 6th century the organ began entering the Western people’s daily lives. In general we can trace it to ever since music was introduced into Church service by Pope Vitalianus at the 7th century AD. But other sources also mention the presence of organs owned by the convent at Grado before the year 580 AD. And at 766 AD an organ was sent from Constantine as a gift to Pepin, King of France. At around the 8th century the use of organ in relation to gladiator combat as an attraction, and following that slowly it gained a place within the Roman Catholic Church Liturgy. In the next phase, development and construction was dedicated to Pope Sylvester, who died on 1003. This tradition continued on because the Church held an important role in the power of monarchies in Europe right when the keyboard-based instruments were created (at around the 14th century). Up to the middle of the 20th century keyboard musical instruments such as the pipe organ, had become official musical instrument of Christian Liturgy in Europe, North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and also at several of their conquered colonies in the form of religious Christian and Reform Jewish, with their instruments called the Church Organ.

Regardless of the experimental aspect of the making of this king of musical instrument, on the other hand, within society at the time there was also a growing need to own a musical instrument more suited to a more limited environment (homes, chapel) and their limited economic capacities. Development of mechanical technologies on the keyboard instruments lead to the development of types of pipe organs sized smaller and more portable. The harmonium became renowned particularly among small churches and chapels of whom it was impossible to own a pipe organ because it would be to large or to expensive for their places of worship. And because of its more affordable price the presence of harmonium became more widely accessible by the people of Europe and America who couldn’t own a pipe organ. Up to the 1900s it was quite popular among people; it had even became quite a profitable export commodity. India was one of Harmonium’s destinations, in addition to several Middle-Eastern nations, and a few locations in Indonesia. In its religious role it further widens the role of the church organ in carrying out its religious service roles at remote areas, because it was easier to carry around in more mobile activities. So to for the European missionaries stationed at remote areas to serve Christian liturgy, while at the same time as a supporting medium for the spread of Christian mission (for example in India and other British areas of conquest). At locations like that the road transportation facilities are often quite unmaintained, with unadvantageous environmental conditions (high humidity, and extreme temperature difference between day and night), but the harmonium would function well here. Unlike the piano whose tunings would change when transported, or the organ which was relatively heavy.

Harmonium became popular and was also played by people of Western culture within the realm of their classical music especially in Europe and America. It was used by many classical composers in their musical works, including by Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, Antonin Dvorak, Cesar Auguste Franck and Gioachino Rossini. Harry Partch adopted the reed organ to play musical scales whose nature is microtonal and named it the chromelodeon. In popular music he appears within the recordings of the Beatles, among others.

Changing Tastes

Between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, a fundamental change happened within the life of European and American people as a the next stage of the revolutionary implications of the Enlightenment ideology, which echoed into the market economy, manufacture and agriculture methods, transport between continents, and population distribution. The Industrial Revolution caused the development of new technologies and the modernization of production processes which enlargened and heightened the music industry, the ‘globalization’ of the music market and the distribution of music into the atmosphere of public and private life. And it was within this atmosphere that secularization occurred within the Western people, which gave them the flexibility to determine their musical tastes within activities secular in nature, which had impact upon the context of religious activities. Because the use of harmonium was more among religious activities, and due to the development of newer anc heaper products with more attractiveness in the choice of musical tastes, this all indirecty had impact on the popularity of the harmonium.

It no longer became an alternative for an inexpensive musical instrument for its community of users. Harmonium’s popularity reached its zenith sometime around the early 1900s, and began to fade away from the end of the 1920s up to the beginning of the 1930s due to the change of musical tastes and the introduction of new technologies such as the player piano¸ phonograph and electric organ which are easier to play, has wider sound options and are sensational. At this time the harmonium was no longer fabricated, but would only pass along among enthusiasts who trade with each other old products, sometimes modernizing them with electric pumps for certain needs. The Estey Company was the last of the harmonium makers, who last produced them in the 1950s.

From the 1930s electric music instruments without pipes had been able of producing sounds similar to and has taken the same roles as the pipe organ. The musical instrument has been welcomed by houses of worship and other potential users of pipe organs, as well as many musicians (both professional and amateur) for whom it was impossible to own a pipe organ. Its smaller size, cheaper price, and portability in comparison to the pipe organ made it possible for them to use it at household events, at dance shows as accompaniment, and at new environmental settings. The presence of this tool almost replaced the reed organ, and now it only became one of many choices among the new keyboard instruments, increasingly more numerous in number.

New musical instruments will continue to be discovered, adopted and sometimes forgotten for various reasons. The Lituus (used in one of Bach’s works), the Glass Armonica (used in Mozart’s compositions), and the Serpent are but a few examples of musical instruments quite popular at their times which have been abandoned due to changes in taste, and use function of the related instruments. And so too with the harmonium, which had for a time been quite popular, and now no longer commonly used in the West.

From this short study of the harmonium we can examine a sample of the explorative nature of the Western people towards the development of their life and civilization, traced from the beginning of the Enlightenment era and continues to bear fruit to this day. The harmonium is but one example of a Western product no longer ‘important’ (only valued by its minority of appreciators), but its role as one stepping stone towards the development of western musical instrument repertoire, and its role in kindling the spirit of innovation, cannot be denied.

Rai: When Art is (no longer) a Movement

by Agung Waskito

This music was born in the middle of the Algerian people’s deterioration due to French colonialism (1841- 1962), which was followed by the rising & falling process in reaching equality of rights and the development of their seeds of national identity. In this era the Algerian people lived within struggle and oppression. Acute poverty, high unemployment and underemployment because of poverty was considered a curse (koukra), the people were removed from their roots, especially the youth who are neglected and without a future.

From Oran, a port city in Western North Algeria and the gateway for sailships of many nations in the Northern Africa Region and the Medditeranian, it is here where Rai first developed. This multiracial meeting over time took role in the development of Rai music in the contemporary Algerian people’s search for identity.

The seeds of Rai were born around the 1920-1930s from various Bedouin musical traditions (qasbah and darbuka/guellal) as well as Arabic (melody, and verses telling of love and life). There are two kinds of repertoires played by pioneering Rai musicians which are Sheikat with their worldly and profane themes; and Meddahat, whose verses are praises towards the Grandness of God, prophets, and local holy men. In many texts eventually Rai’s lyrics appear to continue playing in these two areas.

It is unknown when and by whom the word Rai was used as a name for this music. In socio-cultural life Rai means advice, opinion, words of wisdom given for the purpose of searching for a ‘way’, or to overcome a life problem. Someone would search for rai from a Cheikh (or Syech, master; which is also a designation given for experts in music) because he is considered knowledgeable and full of life experiences. In its use as a musical term it is used in similar fashion. Rai is a reaction in the form of a search for an answer or a way out from the powerlessness of the poor and an expression of concern towards the fate of the youth and the Algerian nation. The Rai musicians mostly come from among the poor who started to play music at a young age as an activity to take their mind off the pressure of problems by igniting their enthusiasm for finding a way out towards a better life. Because of that they know of the suffering experienced as described in the lyrics of Rai music, between poverty, hopelessness, heroism, carnal desires, drugs and alcohol, all the way to critiques of injustice.

As the beginning of their people’s interaction within the dynamics and fluctuations of modern urban life intensifies, slowly Rai begins absorbing elements of Western music (French; piano, violin, orchestration) and continues moving to ‘modernize’ itself (the entrance of the instruments guitar, bass, electric keyboard, drum set, combo format) in keeping up with world developments. Not only adopting physical aspects, Rai music also absorbed many things including genres (rock, jazz, reggae), musical styles (Andalusian, Egypt, Europe) and were somehow able to adapt their contexts into various new aspects and properties without losing their unique local identity attributes (repetitive music patterns, etc.). This was an effort by Rai musicians to consistently place themselves close to the emotions and hardships of their audience, their fellow poor.

But on the other hand, they trigger the anxiety and anger of those from their government, as well as from militant Islamic groups, because these groups consider the behavior of Rai musicians to be immoral, and to have a negative influence on the populace. Hittiste, a term for those youth of Algeria without futures who are dependent on their families even after they had reached adult age, had grown epidemic; but this was not handled any attention from the government nor the Islamists, who neither consider it a serious problem. Because the youth with their social behaviors (addiction, delinquency, prostitution) was considered by both groups as trouble makers (who must be punished), and not as victims of their nations mistakes in history (who must be guided and rehabilitated).

The theme of poverty and its social excesses and the life of youth described in newer Rai music began appearing during the era after their independence. Before that only very few songs would describe struggle, among them from Cheikh Hamada who protested the death sentence given to his son, and Cheika Rimitti who inflamed the nationalism spirit of the Algerian nation’s independence movement.

The push and pull between secularization (government) and religiosization (militant Islam) cause confusion among the Algerian people (particularly among youth) who were in the process of searching for their identity as a modern nation. When in fact secular life (wether realized or not) was born precisely because of how daily life is mired in acute poverty, so much so that social bonds, moral, etc. became irrelevant in daily life. In 1988 an anti-government riot erupted caused by political and economic problems which took victim of so many civilians. In this tragedy, Rai musicians indirectly became the target of government because one of Khaled’s songs “El Harba Wayn?” (meaning To Flee, But Where? in English) became the dissidents’ anthem. From that moment on they received many threats. Rai musicians exiled to France, keeping in mind that between the late ‘70s to the ‘80s the government had banned Rai music. In 1985 the ban on Rai music was uplifted because Khaled’s international career skyrocketed, and it was considered that he could become the spearhead of Algerian cultural diplomacy. The government continued to control the development of Rai music by enacting conditions, that only polite (‘clean’) Rai music was allowed, while the ‘true’ Rai music (which was considered ‘dirty’) kept developing outside of Algeria (particularly in France).

Conflict and political tension in Algeria continued being uncertain due to the conflict between government and the militant Islamists, in addition to the Berber ethnic group who wanted cultural recognition as a part of Algeria. Within this uncertainty of conflict there happened many kidnappings, torture, and murder towards artists and intellectuals among them towards Cheb Hasni (1994), Matoub Lounes (1998), etc.. But on the next time period Rai music in Algeria became an entertainment commodity, a tourism ‘object’ of Algeria. The big Rai musicians (who in general resided in France) continued their career while continuing efforts to ‘pressure’ the government into giving attention to the problem of youths and the poverty of Algerian people.

Time continued passing, never too late, but unfortunately it was only after the end of the first decade of this 2nd millennium did the government and the Islamic militant groups realized the core of their nation’s problem, which is the abandonment of the youth and their people in the pursuit of ideology and power. The debate regarding secular or religious in their governmental system no longer became a main issue. The religious could not ignore how pervasive secular life was among the people. Because the secular life that had by then spread wide was rooted in the acute poverty reaching back to colonial times, and had continued for several generations and cracked the social fabric of Algerian society.

Rock, Reggae, Rai, to name these examples of music among many, are one manifestation of human movement towards their socio-cultural life context. This gives a description, understanding, and inspiration for us of how people struggled to bring to life the function and role of music as a self-reliant supportive system in their social life. Creative potential was deployed to get people to turn their head and realize their foundational life problems that are often left uncomprehended or are avoided.

But in this increasingly ‘globalized’ world, with technology increasingly ‘easing’ human life and the complexities of their problem, what music will be born, as a response to (the problems of) their social life?

Notting Hill Caribbean Carnival

by Agung Waskito
Translated by Ferdi Zebua

The Caribbean roots

The Notting Hill Carnival is a Caribbean carnival held in England, taking place during the August Bank Holiday, with the largest visitor number in the world among the many similar carnivals spread throughout several cities in America and Europe. This carnival with its Caribbean cultural motive is held each year with differing themes each times. Three other similar festivals with similarly enthusiastic large crowds are the Trinidad & Tobago Carnival (at Trinidad-Tobago in the Caribbeans), the Rio Carnival (at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), and the Mardi Gras (in Louisiana, USA), their visitors ranging from 500 thousand to 1,5 million people. This largest carnival in Europe is 50 years old, relatively young compared to her ‘older sisters’ who in general are as old as the formal abolition of slavery, more than 150 years old.

Due to its strong attraction towards visitors, during the last few decades Caribbean Carnivals have become a sort of trend setter for street events in the world. This tendency is connected with how many nations have taken advantage of tourism developments as one of their revenue sources, by presenting their countries’ attractions to the ‘world’.

Among the hundreds of Caribbean carnivals spread throughout America and Europe, some of them are built upon the basis of their local communities. Each participant is involved voluntariy, they have strong local attributes and they have a strong social atmosphere with a spirit stemming from the community. There are also carnivals created by organizations (or sponsors) which emphasize aspects of entertainment, products and more slanted towards commercial aspects and prominently displaying their fashion aspects, for example. The event organizers would try to make the carnival event as festive as possible, with profits going to the organizing body.

The birth and development of Caribbean festivals spread throughout various cities in the Americas and Europe are not with out cause. Their life flows within the path of human history with their cultural and humanitarian problems. Curiosity, the urge to own, and knowledge often drags towards power that shackles humanity. But antagonism is always born in the world, action creates reaction. That which is blocked from flowing would overflow, nothing can stop them in their seeking their way through, like water seeking the bay where they meet the ocean where all currents meet. The place where each element complements without annihilating any other, and enriching uniqueness and variety. Thus the fate of humans carried by the currents of eras meeting up in this small world-the carnival, where all are equal and differences gather into strength to celebrate life.

The Great Migration

The Caribbeans have settled in the UK since the 17th century. But, mass migration really began in 1948, when more than 300 Caribbeans (Jamaicans) were transported to England. The government enacted a policy of accepting migration from commonwealth nations due to a scarcity of unskilled labour needed to reconstruct infrastructural conditions. Because the economy suffered the Great Depression post World War 2, bringing in immigrants was one way to lower the cost of development, by paying cheap wages.

This governmental decision to bring in migrants was not welcomed by parliament members, but only on 1962 (when migrant numbers in England reached 98,000 people) was this policy to bring in migrants was finally repelled.

The Black (and other ‘colored’) people were attracted to coming to England, because they hoped to reach a better life, though they come carrying past memories of bitternes and pain. Moreso they feel that the Caribbean people had helped England during the 1st and 2nd World Wars. Fueled with this enthusiasm and good will, they migrated with the hope that the government of the United Kingdom would return the favor of the Caribbean people’s contribution (favors including since times of slavery and colonization).

But once again their fates was once again dragged down by circumstances. Because their arrival in this country, which (they say) is the “Mother Country” of the colonies, the arrival of these newcomers was not welcome and they were not treated well. The memories of slavery it turns out are perceived differently by the two sides.

The presence of fascist attitudes among some English citizens with narrow points of view are part of the reality in living among the English people. But the forming of this friction caused by the arrival of migrants was also something never realized (or considered important) by the Government. The Establishment which include the Government are the parties whose roles (both as individuals and institutionally) have created conditions which hampers the Blacks (and Colored) from living safely and decently in England. Therefore in their new place, they are treated discriminatively in how they receive housing, education, social and health services, wages, and other primary living needs.

And in their social lives too they experience similar things in various public facilities, police action towards black youth, etc. This all happened merely because of differences in skin color, and other factors (like xenophobias). The segregation of skin color in public facilities prove that attitudes of tolerance towards differences and variety was apparently not part of English people’s lives. As a nation, they were ready to exploit, but were incapable of sharing. ‘Keep Britain White’, a statement of propaganda by sir Oswald Mosley to various establishment members and racist groups (such as the Teddy Boy gangs) underlined the attitudes of some of the English. Which is the serious problem of interracial relation,s which continue to this day. From time to time, injustices and terrible treatment towards blacks (and colors) increasingly became threatening, becoming a burden in life and killing hope. And, triggering more active behaviors of harassment and violence (even murder).

In the summer of 1958 the situation in Black (Afro-Caribbean) settlements in Notting Hill (London, Birmingham, and Nottingham) became tense and heated. Violence by the Teddy Boys group in their nigger hunting intensified. Caribbean stores and workplaces were attacked. In the following days the situation worsened, causing distress and fear among the blacks, especially women and children. Dangers threaten to happen at any time in their daily work and community activities. Travelling alone was dangerous, especially at night. Even the Notting Hill neighborhood was no longer safe for its residents.

The riots of that year was strongly believed by many people to be triggered by several attack incidents (between August 24 and 29), where several Black persons and couples were injured by assault. This violent behavior intensified when a crowd of around 400 white people crowded and attacked the Caribbean settlement at Notting Hill. This attack was responded to by local inhabitants, and would only come under control by the police in September 5, 1958. The brutality of these racists brought back memories of English behavior and exploitation in slavery from the past.

In Notting Hill, after the riots, tension intensified in the lives of the Blacks. This was strengthened by police and media statements which surpress the racist motivations behind the riots and the various incidents which followed after. Such as the murder of Kelso Cochran in May 17th, 1959 (which to this day remain unsolved). The rioting several months before and the development of the situation in Notting Hill brought a realization of the fragility of their lives. Because the Blacks could not rely on anyone else within the sensitive and fragile situation in Britain, except on themselves (as individuals and as a community). But the attacks by the Teddy Boys also made them realize, that as a community they can anticipate the upcoming attacks. But what is chilling is how to overcome the bigger life problems of today, and the future? Noone could answer. 

The birth of Caribbean Carnival @ Notting Hill

A few months after the racial riots, on January 1959, in the community of the West Indie Gazette newspaper and humanitarian activists, Claudia Jones with several of her friends discussed the problems of the black community. The discussion reached the topic of carnivals. This idea came from a silly suggestion by one of them. Almost all of them wouldn’t believe that a carnival would be able to change the condition of Blacks in Britain. Luckily Jones understood the essence and character of carnivals in relation to the role and the political-cultural power of the Trinidad Carnival in the Caribbeans. Which is, the ability to anticipate oppression by taking back their identity and personal balance within a condition of antagonistic dualism (master-slave relation). She was sure the alienated people could be united to take back their lives. And to become a strong community, such as the experience of the Caribbean people during the times after they were freed from slavery (1833-1962).

Through the carnival that she knew, Jones understood the meaning of celebrating life as the purification and rehabilitation of the soul of individuals, the people and the environment. The Carnival was viewed as an attempt to break out and overcome life’s problems within a spirit of high enthusiasm. Because within the creation process she formed an effective leadership, various creative work processes, and gave birth to positive and sustained working activities. In addition to bringing back to life confidence, perseverance, and various regenerative mechanisms related to the carnival and community. The atmosphere during carnival preparations also spurred community members to take lead as well as to work cooperatively in giving their best to the wider community and environment (which then lead to multicultarism in Britain). In other words she was able to create new and strong work opportunities, education, and social networks to mobilize the activities of their people which in the end reconnected the circle of life of a community in Notting Hill, and the Afro-Caribbean identity.

Memories and experiences of life in the Carribiean, and the first experience of becoming involved in Carnival within the fragile situation in Britain gave a large hope to the Black community. As if like when someone realizes a seed she had planted is growing naturally. Because the ritual ‘creation’ of this small world in the form of an expressive arena, has a role in pushing forward the overflowing of all passions and problems bottled up within daily life. They were convinced this purification brought benefits towards the reparation of the circle of life. Because this activity was willed by, is owned by and is for the purpose of welfare for all members of their society. As a ‘world’ that they had created in real life, the carnival would become the platform from which they overcome problems and gue towards the life goals of the Blacks. For her role in this carnival, Jones was then named as the “Mother of Notting Hill Carnival.”

Their first carnival was held indoor within the St. Pancras town hall. Jones’ statement, expressed with the theme, “A people’s art is the genesis of their freedom,” needed to be proven at that time; do the arts really have the ability to give birth to seeds of freedom and justice for the Black? Does the Carnival have the power to restore life from chaos to order?

The carnival then took place each of the following years until 1964, ending because of Claudia Jones’ death. The Carnival as a political and cultural movement also underwent a stagnation. Up to this year, the Carnival which was called a Mardi Gras had become recognized within the Anglo-Caribbean events calendar. A year later (1965) by chance the carnival activity was continued by Rhaune Laslett at Notting Hill, she was a community activist who was unknown before and had no prior knowledge of Claudia Jones. She had a mission to embrace various ethnic groups which encompassed Ukranian, Spanich, Protugues, irish including Afro-Caribbean. An it was at this stage that the Carnival was first held on the streets in the form of a multicultural English carnival procession. In this first Notting Hill Festival, Laslett invited a Steelpan music group gathering 1000 spectaters and 2 police officers. When the Steelpan played, almost all Caribbeans and White poured onto the streets to enjoy the popular music and dance. For the Black this was the first time they were able to express themselves on the streets of Notting Hill while enjoying music, togetherness and take rememberance of the Carnivals at their birthplace.

But a year later (1966) a new threat appeared, threatening to disband the carnival. At that time a new Black community leadership took over the festival. In 1967, the carnival turned into a ture Caribbean Carnival due to the involvement of people from Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua and Trinidad, who live on the area around Landbroke Grove. This change in the next development displayes even more that the carnival is a source of Caribbean identity, especially the identity of the Black people within the sensitive situation in England. One element which became a trait of the carnival in Carribea is that, everyone is welcome to participate, which also became the motto of Notting Hill Carnival, “Every spectator is a participant – Carnival is for all who dare to participate”.

The contents of Notting Hill Festival

The performance materials of Caribbean carnivals are sourced from the volunteer participation from locals who have their own expertise in their respective fields which consist of: Mas or Masquerade, Steel Pan, Calypso, Soca and Sound System. In general each of these art forms have elements of satire or bedgrudging insults, comedy or humor, irony, seriousness, and also sexuality.

Calypso is considered the mother of Soca, it rises from the rhythmic tradition of Kaiso (from West Africa). It was born in a situation where slaves were absolutely prevented from communicating with one another. The Calypsonians played this music with texts/lyrics which subversively and in an inobvious way criticizes their masters and communicates with their fellow slaves. At the beginning they used simple tools to express their hearts with this music which continues developing and was used in a Canboulay (carnival) in locations safely away from their masters’ observation. The first Calypso music ever recorded in 1912 is an instrumental number from the band Lovey’s Orchestra, and following was the Calypso music with vocals by Duke of Iron who worked together with jules Sims in 1914.

Steelpan was also born because of a ban on using traditional drums, because the Europeans realized their slaves could use their drum playing as a communications tool. Because of that the slaves created the Tamboo Bamboo (a drum made of bamboo), which are a group of bamboo of different lengths which could create certain notes when the bamboos are hit to the ground. This instrument was usually played by youth in the slums of Port of Spain, and played in the Black people’s carnivals.

But then during World War II the Carnival was banned. They tried to replace tamboo bamboo with biscuit tin cans, various used tools and metals including oil drums, with the hope of carrying out a carnival. And unexpectedly, these new oil drum instruments could create nusical notes and would even develop to have quite a wide range of low to high notes. And when they had finally succeded in making all the heights and tuning consistent, they began making an orchestra group for this steelpan, or also often called steel band.

Soca was born during the time when Calypso began to fade in the 40s. It was created by Lord Shorty who at first experimented with Calypso rhythms in combination with Indian rhythmic instruments. This experiment produced an expressive musical combination which he called Solka, which meant ‘soul of calypso.’ And on the following periods this term then transformed into Soca. This music is also played with the band wearing masquerade costumes, which is also called Carnival Mas Band.

Masquerade (or Mas) means mask or disguise, which also includes costumes worn in Caribbean carnival tradition; it is a drama which portrays memories from the slavery era with various characters connected to the traits of evil or clowning, history, culture, life and death. These Mas groups are also accompanied with their band, who also functions to explain the themes presented by Mas.

In addition to all the materials above, usually there are also additional materials which originate from visitors who wish to participate to become carnival participants.

Each of those primary materials have history which connects to the times of slavery and colonization. The main materials have history with strong connections to the resistance of slaves towards their masters.

Until 1974 gradually organizations supporting the carnival began to form, such as the steelband group (now consisting of 20 separate groups), the costume bands and the masquerade bands (which now number 80). Followed by the use of sound systems to attract the attention of youths, who at the time were particular towards Reggae (with Reggae’s sound system). The sound systems also played other music such as Calypso, Hip Hop, Soca, etc. in line with the character of their lyrics and music, social messages hold an important role since the beginning of the Caribbean Festival as a platform to remind the roots of life and to strengthen the cohesion among black Afro-Caribbean. Especially when the youth increacingly became involved with the social troubles and are prone to conflicts with police. 

The carnival, black youth and the end of racialism

In the year 1975 the Notting Hill Carnival became the primary festival (under leadership of Leslie Palmer), and was more popular compared to other programs by Black Londoners for Radio London (by Alex Pascal, who in 1980 lead this festival)

Attempts to ban the carnival again grew and attracted police attention, who increased their vigilance due to the increase in number of black youth attending (which was associated with criminality and violence). Though racial discrimination did not have its legal justification anymore in public spaces after the enactment of the Race Relations Act (’65 and ’68), this problem continue on in the social life of the British people. In the following periods black youth increasingly became police target, and so conflict between the two groups became more frequent. And because of this the carnival committee began to incorporate themselves into an organization (lead by Selwyn Baptiste), who was then known as the Carnival Development Committee (CDC) whose mission is to promote and maintain the carnival.

At the Notting Hill Carnival of 1976, which was attended by over 150,000 people, a riot occurred between the police and the black youth. The Carnival of that year was remembered as an incident full of violence and danger. On several occasions the Home Secretacy made threats to ban the Carnival. And for the time being it appeared the Carnival would be stopped.

But as time passes Prince Charles, among several other influential public figures, gave their support to the Notting Hill Carnival. This action was followed during several yearly moments afterward during other rioths at St Pauls (1980 & 1982), Brixton (1981 & 1985), Toxteth (1981 & 1982), Notting Hill Gate (1982), Handsworth, and Birmingham (2005) for much the same reasons. When tracked back, conflicts within interracial relations tended to dramatically increase (continuously until 2008). But efforts to stop the festival by Government and Police forces (with various argumentations) was successfully deflected by the community and festival sympathizers.

These public incidents of course could not solve all problems of the Black communities in short order, and Black youth have become their own fenomenon for the future of their people, because they increasingly become involved in clashes with police, narcotics, and criminality.

But when seen as a 50 year journey, the struggle of the actors in overcoming the problem of interracial relations, and the presence of their millions of supporters, have proven Claudia Jones’ statement from half a century ago. That through their arts the black could emancipate themselves from fear and inferiority by turning conflict into potential. The Notting Hill Carnival had formed into a carnival which not only belonged to Afro-Caribbeans or Britons but also belonged to the world. Because the Afro-Caribbean people have their roots of identity firmly planted as a community through this festival. And the festival had become like an open home where all can come by.

Their growth now is no longer barricaded by racialism, because millions of supporters who always enjoy this yearly event is a representation of people against injustice and oppression. And now Notting Hill Carnival is preparing itself to welcome the Olympics and Paralympics of 2012, which will attract tourists and will begin a new chapter in Britain’s multiculturalism journey. And of course, the attention of these tourists are due to the socio-cultural rootedness which form the basis of the Notting Hill Festival, not because it was ‘designed’ as a commodity to fulfill a ‘market demand’.

(from various sources)

World Cup South Africa 2010: Whose Side is it on?

[Jakarta, LTTW] It is almost impossible to decimate music from human life, because music is like air that fills void. In all its shape it fills up space, and in all times at all capacities, chances and the will and support of the local society where it lives. It can even give influence the life of those not wishing for the atmosphere it creates. Music can be more than mere entertainment. But it can (at the same time) be a tool through which to grow the self-assurance, self-identification, and self dignity of a person, or a people, so that they stand tall and firm as a complete entity. The effect of music can go beyond what man imagines. It can also strengthen the frayed bonds between peoples, because music is free from the shackles of conflict, hate, and the latent problems of people’s everyday lives. And so too is it able to cross the boundaries of differences in race, faith, ideology, and class so defining the variety and cultural richness of human civilization[i]. The ability to create art (as is sports) is one of humankind’s ultimate manifestation with potential to be beneficial for the continuation of life (but it too can produce the opposite effect). The usefulness or not of music as a vehicle depends at what level can man understand his life. Music can be very inspirational, but at the same time it can also become a vehicle for propaganda that can threaten the very lives of a people or a race[ii].

Beginning on the year 1990 music begun to be used by FIFA as the Anthem/Official songs of the World Cup, because (consciously or not) music begins to be considered to have an important strategic value to celebrate (or immortalize) victories (or glory), while at the same time having high commercial value[iii]. On further developments, as an intertwining sport and music were used to trigger sportiveness & achievement culminating in a point of vibrant communion. Going so far even as to erupt emotions which sow the seeds of new brotherhood and peace beyond the invisible limits of logic. It is world events such as this which should have the potential to replenish the vibrancy of a nation, even the core value and meaning of humanity. Not as a court for ridiculing the losers, or to venerate winners. But on the other hand, experience has also sharpened the business instincts which has made music become a complementary element of a most profitable sporting event, and as a vehicle through which a nation’s resources are exploited[iv]. 

So important was the role of music in the World Cup events, that all this time it was made with a particular concept in alignment with the situation, the socio-cultural context of the nation where these events were held.

In its history, some of the theme songs composed are more in line with the host nation’s characters (Italy, 1990; Argentina, 1978), sometimes more international in character (Spain, 1982; South Korea-Japan, 2002), and sometimes its characteristic of one nation but is of international caliber (USA, 1994; France, 1998; Germany, 2006)[v]. Though there are no fixed rules, between FIFA and each hosting country there (apparently) is a process between the two parties in searching for an image that aligns with the wishes and goals of both parties, hoping for a mutually symbiotic relationship.

It is interesting to observe this World Cup championship to find out how aspects of universalism and locality interact with each other in the spirit of sportiveness on the different ages compared to this era, where it has been said that disconnects have become easier to prevent.

As a mediator, FIFA gathers people from many nations to gather in competition and focus the attention of the world to none place. This event can become a contestation ground to test whether so called universal values (equality, fairness, friendship, etc.) really do take place, can be defended, or more readily understood by the world’s citizens (at one particular location with its local contexts). As a facilitator and provider of venues, the hosting country becomes a ‘battleground’ of abilities and values, and opens a door for local values to interact and attempt to become compatible with the international world.

This test applies to all parties involved, especially FIFA itself and the hosting country, the local citizens and match spectators, even spectators throughout the world. Can the parties involved accommodate all their ‘interests’ in synergy without sacrificing a bigger goal, that of the upholding of our conscience and humanity. Or, will this tackling over the ball become no more than footwork play proving nothing beyond the ‘power’ to win, to conquer the loser[vi].

There is no doubt of Music’s potential for life. It can play a good role only if it is supported by its community within a conducive societal atmosphere. It is hard to tell what underlies FIFA’s consideration with regard of its commitments but it appears this statement was made earnestly. Because right now the FIFA World Cup 2010 is being held in South Africa with a goal of echoing out the spirit and rise of Africa towards all corners of the world. A decision to take part in a journey to trace the paths of historic oceans of conquest and slavery. This statement is a grand gesture laden with a heavy task and responsibility, when associated with Africa’s current social history and condition, much colored with problems and paradox. On the flip side, this can be a stepping stone (or a stumbling block) for the ‘international world’ (here represented by FIFA) to execute appropriately without becoming trapped in local conflicts of interest. Especially when this takes place where South Africa is part of the problem[vii]. This event can also become a trial for the nations or races that had been conquered in the past. Are they ready to take part in the field of global economics with all its risks? So too for those inheriting the ‘sins’ of unrighteous slavery by other branches of humanity, are they able (or willing) to share wealth and prosperity? (And is not all forms of colonization centered around this issue?)

This tale of music began when FIFA declared ‘Waka Waka’ (‘This Time for Africa’) as Official Song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa to the mass media. This song is sung by Shakira with the backing of the group Freshlyground (from South Africa). This work is claimed to be written by Shakira[viii].

But not long after the announcement, this song sowed controversy. Some of the parties in support are the fans of soccer and Shakira’s music who in general are from outside South Africa. They hold their opinion that this is an international event which should properly be celebrated by the whole world. Some do not consider important the issues that develop in South Africa (like the World Cups that took place at developed nations, where music is considered more an accessory), some others do not understand the problems. They consider resistance towards Waka Waka an annoying obstacle in the event’s success.

Shakira is a bright star, with a fast moving career which began from her teenage years, and she has a high social concern for empowering the disadvantaged. Aside from her vocal powers and her sex appeal, she is also an inspiring figure as a role model much favored by soccer fans and the youth (who are considered by FIFA as potential and future buyers). It is these things that underlie the main reason Shakira was involved. No wonder FIFA considers her to be the right person to usher the success of this event. Because she too has experiences in participating in events of the same kind and caliber as this World Cup. As a strategy, FIFA has taken one correct step. Because for FIFA one of the most important thing in their consideration for World Cup is to have a memorable official World Cup song, long lasting like from World Cup 1998, ‘La Copa de la Vida’ (‘The Cup of Life’) by Ricky Martin, etc.[ix]

Related to the preceding things, aside from Shakira, FIFA also recruited several musicians considered popular by the captive market of western pop music. Famous musicians such as Alicia Keys, John Legend, the Black Eyed Peas, etc. has been included in the music list of the World Cup 2010 soundtrack and has made headlines at various mass media. At the beginning they were reluctant to recruit South African musicians whom they consider to be not very marketable in the international world.[x] But recently they have corrected this by recruiting South African musicians gradually and discretely (though they admit that they have erred before elements of South African society), due to the appearance of strong critique aimed to the FIFA organizing committee over their decisions. Is this turn of events just another episode of the push and pull between globality (popularity) and locality (pride)? About the way FIFA manages the internal tension related to business and the credibility of South Africa? (who still of course have issues regarding perception of relationship and certain specific interests). Or, is this nothing more than a mere multinational business game placed upon a poor country?

To smooth out the spread of World Cup songs FIFA had signed a contract with Sony Music Entertainment as the official record label for the World Cup 2010 soundtrack album (CD & DVD). This agreement was done to strengthen position and ensure positive response from the target buying audience.

This plan appears to have been well prepared, because they had also prepared a charity social responsibility program. FIFA and their partners will donate their net profits to talent development of soccer for the disadvantaged throughout Africa through the ’20 Centers for 2010’ program and 1Goal[xi]. To realize this Shakira will be its traveling ambassador to socialize this program throughout all of Africa.

FIFA appears to have carefully calculated the opportunities and challenges in reaching World Cup profit and success in the internal social situation and setting of South Africa (such as poverty, economic inequality, social injustice, existing racism issues, etc). What was it really that became FIFA’s main consideration in this World Cup 2010 in South Africa? Is it merely aiming for profit, or does it consider common benefit with its partner nation? How to lift the thread of Africa and at the same time become successful financially and reach the goal of World Cup? Since so many challenging factors and work remains to be done.

And so to the limitations from the South Africa party with all that they have and their limitations, in relation to their main priority of what needs to be reached in taking advantage of World Cup 2010 maximally. What actions to take to gain true benefit for all layers of its society, and to avoid profit that only reach a small part in the name of globalization? How does cooperation work between the government and its people in anticipating the World Cup? Because miracles cannot come just like that by merely preparing venues and facilities.

For another matter an opposing reaction appeared from many citizens of South Africa. The main issue being the World Cup had become in-contextual and too ‘international’[xii]. Because there was an uncertainty happening between FIFA and South Africa’s ruling government. Making it so that South Africa was denied the opportunity to promote herself properly to the international world[xiii].

Therefore it is unsurprising if South Africa’s music did not gain a proper place.

At the beginning only three South African musicians were involved in this grand celebration[xiv]. This reality sparked protest from among local musicians, who demand that South African musicians are able to properly participate as hosts welcoming guests, and to enhance the musical flavor of South Africa in World Cup 2010.

This anxiousness was also felt by the local citizens (especially by the majority underprivileged local population of South Africa) because they were also not given proper room to introduce South Africa’s arts and culture within the area surrounding the soccer stadiums[xv]. Eventually several private radio stations ceased to report on World Cup 2010 and played more South African music. So too several galleries canceled in selling products bearing the FIFA World Cup 2010 initials except for those that are original local art creations, due to solidarity and concern towards South Africa.

They also conclude that the song Waka Waka by Shakira, does not represent what they call the spirit of Africa (since she was actually a Colombian). Even more sharply they focused on Shakira’s claim that Waka Waka was her original work. Because a song very similar to it was performed around 1986 by the musical group Golden Sounds (a musical accompaniment group for the President of Cameroon) as their original work which they named Zangalewa. This means that Shakira had plagiarized another work (the chorus) without permission, and after this (plagiarism) happened only then was it realized, and this had happened several times in the past. Apparently this plagiarism done by international musicians (Michael Jackson, James Brown, Missy Elliot, etc.) to African musicians had become a bad habit of megastars, which they do without any guilt[xvi].

Whatever the reason and situation, Shakira had trespassed another’s intellectual property. What comes next in this tale? Will she repair her mistake with sportive spirit like a human being (not as a mega star), produce an apology to show that she still have respect to the intellectual property rights (of the Zangalewa music group, their name after Golden Sounds)? Or, will she quietly do it in order to save face in front of her millions of fans (though everyone knows what she had done)? Or, will she consider this situation manageable (‘manipulable’), and pretend that nothing happened?

And then what does this (attitude of ignorance to intellectual property rights) have to do with her commitment to humanitarian issues through the ’20 Centers for 2010’ and ‘1Goal’ later on? Does it have anything to do with her calling in her heart or is this only part of the nominal calculations and popularity thought of fleetingly across her head?

The attitude shown by Shakira in this World Cup 2010 shows an affinity that FIFA has about how the ‘international community’ treats the local ‘society’, who tend to make them an object of exploitation. FIFA, though finally apologizing (due to pressure), reveals something it doesn’t realize which is the tendency to underestimate people due to selfishness. When the people of South Africa spends $5 million (by incurring debt), never mind South African identity, not even to become a proper host was the opportunity not given (if not for the harsh shoutback). Is this phenomena causuistic, or is this the typical attitude of the ‘international community’ (rich nations) towards the formerly colonized nations of the world (who are quite obviously still poor)?

And so too with South Africa, will the profit and popularity hard-fought all this time weaken the life goals they had originally been fighting for? Will they become more ‘modern’ but in the process lose their cultural roots and become shackled by ever tightening debt (such as has happened in Malaysia, Indonesia, etc.)? Or, will they become a nation that successfully mends the cracks in their culture to develop their self worth as one united nation capable of solving the problems of their lives? This which is achieved through methods that do not create new dependencies on false hopes to solve problems by depending on the ‘goodness of heart’ from developed nations or the world’s donor organizations.

This World Cup event shows how music can take role in the formation process of a nation, and, or be manipulated so that it functions to lift the popularity of a person or group.

World Cup 2010 is a new learning chapter for human civilization to bring together the spirit of a continent that once had been brought to their knees by the granite slabs of ‘international world’ standing tall and pompous. Errors can be repaired if all parties would be willing to take a level sitting position, and be willing to help each other unconditionally from deep in the heart. Here is where music (in this matter the official song ‘Waka Waka’, as claimed by FIFA) makes it possible to take role in meeting heart with soul, to give rise to the spirit to raise Africa. But without conscience and emotional unity, trying to fulfill the grand vision of giving rise to Africa (though South Africa bears much debt) is like trying to make stand a wet string.

[i] World Cup Musician Welcomes Humankind Back to Africa, http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/feedarticle/9120597

[ii] Music of South Africa, http://cw.routledge.com/textbooks/97 80415960717/ch3.asp;
Apartheid Era Song Swells Racial Tensions in S. Africa, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125473544

[iii] FIFA World Cup official songs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_World_Cup_ official_songs

[iv] South Africa Pushes to Make the Cup Its Own, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/24/sports/soccer/ 24safrica.html

[v] FIFA World Cup Official Songs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_World_Cup_official_songs

[vi] After a chequered history the England World Cup song is dead, The Guardian

[vii] World Cup 2010 100 days to what, http://www.theafricareport.com/typerighter/index. php?post/2010/03/04/World-Cup-2010%3A-100-days-to-what

[viii] FIFA and Sony Music Entertainment Select ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’ by Shakira Featuring Freshlyground as FIFA World Cup 2010(TM) Official Song, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fifa-and-sony-music-entertainment-select-waka-waka-this-time-for-africa-by-shakira-featuring-freshlyground-as-fifa-world-cup-2010tm-official-song-92171284.html

[ix] FIFA World Cup official songs, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_World_Cup_official_songs

[x] South African stars to miss out on World Cup 2010, www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/…/world-cup-south-africa-musicians-opening-ceremony-protests

[xi] FIFA and Sony Music Entertainment Select ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’ by Shakira Featuring Freshlyground as FIFA World Cup 2010(TM) Official Song, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fifa-and-sony-music-entertainment-select-waka-waka-this-time-for-africa-by-shakira-featuring-freshlyground-as-fifa-world-cup-2010tm-official-song-92171284.html

[xii] South Africans want place in FIFA concert, http://www.cbc.ca/arts/music/story/2010/04/09/world-cupconcert.html#ixzz0qu U7nO5K;

ANCYL in talks about 2010 concert, http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=139&art_id=iol1275473038562A524

[xiii] World Cup 2010 100 days to what, http://www.theafricareport.com/typerighter/index.php?post/2010/03/04/World-Cup-2010%3A-100-days-to-what

[xiv] South African stars to miss out on World Cup, www.guardian.co.uk/ world/2010/…/world-cup-south-africa-musicians-opening-ceremony-protests

[xv] South Africa Pushes to Make the Cup Its Own, http://www.deccanherald.com/content/71767/south-africa-pushes-make-world.html

[xvi] Undermining African Intellectual and Artistic Rights: Shakira, Zangalewa & the World Cup Anthem, http://www.dibussi.com/2010/05/undermining-african-intellectual-and-artistic-rights-.html