Soundtrack to this post: “Sweepstakes” by Gorillaz & Mos Def, from Plastic Beach.
Warning: The following article may be biased, because I am currently working on a new album that is turning out to be sounding quite tribal. I mean REALLY tribal… like my uke and voice are up to their proverbial necks in hand drums. But can you blame me?! What did music start as, anyway? A dude hitting a rock with another rock over and over and over and… well, you get the idea.
Let me backtrack for a minute. I’ve noticed a trend in modern indie, folk, rock, hip hop, and many other genres… this trend can be described as a sudden jump in the percentage of “earthiness.” Big recorded crowds (which very well may be one to three people in a studio) have been chanting wordless outcries, big beats have been yielding big bass drums, snare drums are being replaced with claps, and more and more music listeners have been spotted dancing circles ’round fires. In my opinion, this should continue, flourish and increase even! Think about how tribal-ness (Tribiality? Tribalism? I’m obsessed with music, not grammar) effects a listener, and what message adding tribal elements conveys. I believe it’s the one type of music that every single person on the planet’s ancestors more than likely took part in. Primitive music. Human music.
One great example of can be seen/heard on a DVD I know I’ve sited before, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds live at Radio City. Dave takes an aside to, like he does, rant about how one of his tunes, this one entitled “Eh Hee” came about. He talks about visiting an African tribe and how they had songs for the different weather conditions and environmental changes, but none of them had any words, because they were songs that were written before words. Before words?! What?! Think about the depth of meaning that exists there, coupled with the pure non-existence of actual language. After really pondering that, try to tell me honestly that you don’t see the beauty in “primitive” music… or as Dave says, “Music from a people who are, in a way, the most advanced people on the planet.”
So basically, I don’t know who started this tribal reprise, but I sure am in love with it. And no, the new music I’m working on isn’t tribal just to capitalize on a trend, I’m doing it because after playing hand drums since I was nine, I’ve been inspired to re-dig up some old roots. It doesn’t hurt that it’s already on its way to coming back though! Tribal music can only bring people together, which is what music should be all about – celebrating what we are. Human!