Here are 3 videos that have been hacking my own thoughts about music. All of them have a distinctive non-western approach to melody, harmony and rhythm, and they are each incredibly catchy. My jazz training has given me a feeling that chord changes are "the bones" of a song, but the more I look outside of western music the more I realize how melodic and rhythmic exploration inside of more static harmonies can be deeply gratifying. I realize that many western musicians have explored modal music, but each of the examples below has a deep folkiness that is riveting and truly different than much of what I've heard. None of these songs feel like an experiment but rather a continuation of a musical tradition that has been in process for centuries (With the possible exception of some of Wu Man's extended techniques). The thing that is so interesting about all three of these pieces is that they each have a "hook." They all force me to reconsider what makes music enjoyable, addictive, and the extent to which computers have homogenized the sonic reach of popular music around the world. This is ironic because I actually believe that computers are supremely versatile instruments, however they allow for a laziness that can end up eliminating nuance. I do think that computers are creating music that helps us process our computerized lives (eg: dubstep), just as ancient music helped people understand pre-industrial life. But just as our use of technology might become more organic and integrated into our humanity so might our music. These musicians all have a lot of information about what music means for humanity.
Kalumbu Song from Zambia
Pipa Song from China
Song from the Carnatic Indian Tradition (Southern India)