29 March 2006

Reading Into Cultures

I was browsing around at the website of one of the world's great bookstores, Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon, the other day. As I browsed the virtual stacks, I felt that familiar bookstore feeling of simultaneous joy and despair. Joy at the rich offerings, the promise of knowledge and wonder that awaited in all of these marvelous works. And despair that I will never be able to read all that I want to, that I will never know all the delightful details of humanity. There are just too many stories, genres of music, fables, religions, dances, histories, and poems.

Ah, but what I can do -- and have done! -- is create a little bookshelf of interesting titles that may intrigue SoundRoots readers, as they've intrigued me. Some I have read, like the marvelously fresh African children's stories of Nancy Farmer and some of the books on world music. Others remain on my to-read list, like the ones about mariachis, and Muslim women, and the history of yodeling. If you're interested in cultural knowledge, check out the SoundRoots bookshelf.

Of course, I'd love to hear what you're reading and what you recommend. While SoundRoots tends to concentrate more on music, we're just as fond of a good read. In fact, books on my desk but not on the above list include "Global Beat Fusion" by Derek Beres, "For God and Country" by James Yee, "Many People, Many Faiths" by Ellwood and McGraw, and "Planet Musician" by Julie Lyonn Lieberman.

And now I'm starting to get that conflicted feeling again...

I can't help but add a footnote with some web references. If you're interested in yodeling, check out yodelcourse.com's online tutorial, complete with sound files. Or this Crash Course in Yodeling.

And here, for your listening pleasure, is some live yodeling. Feel free to yodel along.
[mp3] Group Yodel

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh, online yodeling? Well, first I need to take this Tuvan throat singing lessons: http://khoomei.com/lessons.htm

So far as books go I am always reading bits of Chernoff's African Rhythms & African Sensibilities, which I find quite an engaging read as an it's sort of an ethnomusicological text and I'm sort of a layperson. I doubt you haven't seen them, but he has two fun reads about the life of an African friend, Hustling is Not Stealing and Exchange is Not Robbery (subtitled "Stories of an African Bar Girl") - not very much informed by his musical pursuits, but great reads.

I also just finished this book you see in everyone's hands, The Spirit Catches you and you Fall Down by Anne Fadiman about the Hmong people. I was pleased to find a lot of content about spiritual practices, mythology and the role of music in ritual. I now understand the book's popularity. It's really interesting, so if anyone reading this hasn't read it, I'll join the many voices singing its praise.

This is likely the only time I'll leave a comment. It's a slow morning at work, and I wanted to thank you for the blog. You have much up to date news, which is helpful in my role of buying and selling world music at our cafe (Bulldog News in Seattle's U District) and you're somewhat local so I get to see reviews of shows I've gone to or missed. So I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate it - thanks.