Acculturation in songs

Background Acculturation : A significant term for world music (and world music , meaning the genre) today is acculturation, referring to the mixing process that takes place when cultures come into contact with each other. Musical syncretism is a feature of many popular music genres but borrowing is seldom indiscriminate. Manuel observes that “cultural borrowing... is often limited to elements that are in some way compatible with the host culture's musical system” and that vocal style “is generally the most resistant to change” (1988: 20).


Class Discussion : Hold a class discussion on acculturation. To get the students started ask them if they can think of any pop songs that use bits and pieces from other cultures. If they can't think of any then play them a few short examples of songs such as Yothu Yindi's ‘Treaty' (but ask them which way the acculturation is going), Paul Simon's ‘Graceland', anything by Kula Shaker (this version of ‘Govinda' is quite cool:, and, being a music teacher, you'll probably be able to think of better and more recent examples than these.


Acculturation in Thai lukthung : Overall it can be said that lukthung follows the pattern of many other acculturated song genres in that the folk vocal style is among the most fundamental traits (see Manuel, 1988: 20) However, just as there are some lukthung singers who use Western vocal styles (see Amporn, 2006: 34), there are also many examples of songs sung in Indian or Malay vocal styles.


Listening : Listen to three lukthung songs that have acculturated an Indian film song ( filmi geet ). ‘Neele gagan ke tale', composed by Ravi and sung by Mahendra Kapoor from the film Hamraaz (1967), becomes ‘Sao na khoi khu' (‘farm girl waits for partner' ), composed by Surin Paksiri and sung by Buppha Saichon, from the lukthung musical Monrak lukthung (1970). The melody was also used for ‘Roi rak, roi monthin' (‘love's scar, unclean mark'), sung by Phraiwan Lukphet and composed by Pradit Utamang, and later by Soraphet Phinyo for ‘Lop na thi Malay', sung by Phimpha Phonsiri. The students should be able to see that the first three songs are essentially identical in melody but that ‘Lop na thi Malay' shows significant development. The composer Soraphet Phinyo has created a new melody by adapting the distinctive first three bars of the original melody using repetition and sequence typical of morlam .