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Yi and Wa minority music from Yunnan

This video by Kris Ariel at GoKunming.com show performers from the Yunnan Yuansheng Indigenous Music and Dance Studio, a theater in Kunming dedicated to preserving the music and dance traditions of Yunnan's twenty-five ethnic minorities.

There are currently 2 Comments for Yi and Wa minority music from Yunnan.

Comments on Yi and Wa minority music from Yunnan

Why am I recording ethnic minorities music? For the last 10 years I have involved myself in a rather non lucrative activity, going to places, often remote, in India, in Tanzania, in Cambodia, in Laos, in Vietnam and China, aiming to record traditional music. Every country has a different context and also my approach is different, depending on how much time I spend, on how close I am with the people, on the degree of acculturation, on how easy it is to find musicians, on political situation, on who I am working with and a lot of subjective reasons like which music really interest me. I invest my time, money and energy on music that move me, in many cases I seem to be the first one to record those musicians, I am aware of this exclusive dimension, but this is not essential. I won t pretend that I m doing it for saving endangered cultures, I let the unesco and various organizations or ngos use big words like <preserving indigenous cultures> or officialy declaring <gongmusic as world immaterial patrimony> and actually not doing much about it . I ve contacted quite a few of those organizations in the past, without any results. I ve released a double cd in 2003 on the french label <musiques du monde> of my recordings of tanzanian bushmen, the Hadzas, who are in a very precarious situation. In the early 90ties I had been in contact with different ethnic groups in Uganda, Zaire or Nigeria and i understood rapidly the inferior status those people have in their own country, in contact with main ethnic groups. Back in Africa in 1999 nothing had changed, and the bushmen had to endure the invasion of other tribes, who claim the land for agriculture, when the government is not claiming the land for natural parks. In 2000 I could sell some of my recordings to Discovery Channel,who were shooting a documentary on James Stephenson, my american friend living with the hadzas; the result is a cliche film about friendly savages , the way safari tourists wish to see the bushmen . In the name of development, everyone outside the bushmen community had a plan , the maoist tanzanian government of the 70ies had previously failed to destroy tribalism and since the 90ies the new trend is based on the expansion of tourism. The Hadzas are definitely the most exotic, ,among the last remaining bushmen in Africa and so far I could not release my recordings of Datogas from the north and of the Makondes from the south of Tanzania. My african experience has repeated itself in south east Asia, in very different environments, historical, political and cultural contexts, ethnic minorities have to face the same challenges, being manipulated with various intentions by political powers, main ethnic groups, logging or mining companies , christian missionaries, development agencies, the tourists industry, the latter having specific cultural implications towards a relative cultural standardization, especially in China, where the tourist industry is huge . In Cambodia, they have to deal with recent land grabbing problems, in Laos with aneffective policy of resetelements. But all those countries share, at different degrees, a similar situation of acculturation, China with his official 56 minzu (specific Chinese concept of ethnicity), or Vietnam with his 54 minorities have promoted more than others, the glorious vision of colorful people, all integrated and supervised by a centralized communist government . In those 2 countries, some members of their own minority communities have adapted towards a diverse but acceptable presentation of themselves to the outside world, resulting for music as a bastardization , from animism to folklore, at various degree. China is the leader in producing vcds or dvds (hardly no audio cds can be found ) that show beautified local girls in local costumes, singing in their own language along with cheap techno music, Vietnam has a tv channel dedicated to showing all kind of ethnic shows, from rather authentic to cheesy commercial deviation. It can be done simultaneously with good intentions and bad taste, by official cultural institutions as much as by members of ethnic groups looking for some kind of recognition, willing to simplify their cultural practices for the outside world, or simply thinking in term of evolution . I love the rawness and uncompromising emotion that most ethnic musicians express, regardless of the main ethnic groups taste, and western and local cultural decision makers , not to mention tourists and expats who are usually just looking for western music to go along with their western meals!

[Truncated. Text continues at the commenter's MySpace page. --JM]

This looks like the group that performed at the Kennedy Center in DC a few years back. Not exactly field recordings.

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