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Speaking In Tongues: A Listening Exercise.


One of the most fascinating things about listening to music is that intent and tone truly do translate into discernable emotions. It’s why metal heads are thought to be angry and aggresive, punk kids are believed to be rebellious and goth kids are tagged as depressed. It’s why mainstream media can make claims that lyrical content is the culprit for a percentage of modern crime including murder.

Music is a cross-cultural affair. There isn’t one nation on Earth that doesn’t make music and although it may be in languages that we cannot immediately qualify or classify, there are still layers of to interpret. Therein lies the beauty and significance of art.

One of the most fascinating and satisfying things about building up an international catalogue of music is being able to hear the differences in influences. New instruments, new constructions of percussion and altogether different intepretations of how to arrange songs. I’d argue that most popular music in most industrialized nations still tries to incorporate the verse/chorus/verse/bridge/verse/chorus structure and relies heavily on its own ability to be catchy and likeable. Once you start sneaking into other genres, the rigidity almost melts away. The songs become longer, seem a little more fluid.

Sometimes I mind that I can’t understand the lyrics. Other times the music is enough.

Emeraude – West African Cosmos

I found this over at Captain’s Crate awhile ago. This is a funky, swanky song. Electric piano, light percussion, electric guitar. It’s a seven-minute long groove with vocals interspersed. Download this, if nothing else.

Jaan Pehechaan Ho – Mohammed Rafi

This is an Indian pop song from the fifties. This guy was a big deal in India. He was one of three leading male singers in his country for almost 20 years. I heard this song from the movie “Ghost World” (based on the comic) when I was in high school and immediately liked it. It’s lively and animated.

Topknot – Bubbley Kaur

This is an indie pop song from a United Kingdom-Indian band. It was their first recording on their 12″ inch single. I never heard the song on the B-side, “Natch,”but someone said it reminded them of a disco track. That could be interesting. This time it’s a female vocalist with a pretty controlled delivery. There some’s interesting production going on that contrasts with the vocals in a good way.

Aguarela Do Brasil – Gal Costa

One of my multilingual, brainiac friends travels a lot and, as any good traveler should, immerses himself in the culture. Especially it’s music. He loves this woman and recommended her to me awhile ago. Apparently, she is loved, respected and highly revered in Brazil. She’s in her sixties and has released over twenty album. I guess no one could ever say she wasn’t productive. This song is very upbeat and likeable. Another good one is “Chega De Saudade.”


I Want You Back (Japanese)

I don’t know who the kid is singing this, but he sounds as close to Michael Jackson as I think you can. Well, besides the lead singer from that British all-girl group Cleopatra that Madonna discovered. They were pretty bad, but they had a cover of “I Want You Back” and it was kind of startling how similar she sounded to him. Anyway, this track cuts off in two minutes. I apologize but otherwise, it’s magic.


About Etta Strange

Writer, obsessive audiophile, secret bedroom DJ, local daydreamer with more books than shelf space. I'm stockpiling for the inevitable drought. Let's collaborate.

One response to “Speaking In Tongues: A Listening Exercise.

  1. Pingback: » Speaking In Tongues: A Listening Exercise.

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