The original spirit of cultural music

The original spirit of cultural music


In the article, the author talked about the formation history of the famous band called Ozomatli. The band members are Japanese, Scottish and black people, which are very diversity. The bands’ music styles are combined with hip-pop, samba style, Meg dance and black group dancing, East Los Angeles blues, New Orleans, Indian styles and so on. Their music styles are various, too. Ozomatli has been the favorite band in Los Angeles, even all over the world. As the author said: “Ozomatili’s music and political work offers us invaluable bottom-up perspectives on the terrain of counter-politics and cultural creation at the beginning of the twenty-first century” (SOB P445), the band has been the epitome of  Los Angeles even the whole American diverse culture and political differences conditions.

The band member said their music is “the sound of people”, it is because they elected and mix different kinds of music. They main music style is the Latino music, even they dissolve their folk culture and the commercial culture, even they combined the social movement culture and the popular culture, even they were impact by the commercial society, they still didn’t change their style. This made me think about a very popular traditional band in China. It is called “ Twelve Girls Band”. All the girls in this band are playing the Chinese traditional instruments like urheen, dulcimer, pipa, bamboo flute and so on. They don’t play these traditional instruments in the traditional ways. They mix the different playing skills and playing styles during their performance. For example, the urheen is played by the players when they are sitting, and they must put the instrument on their legs, but after they improved the playing skill, they can play the urheens when they are standing. Also, even they were impacted by the mainstream style music, they still keep on playing and creating music that played by the Chinese traditional instruments.



One of the band member, Wil-Dog, in Kun said: “Everyone in the band says, ‘we take you around the world’. (SOB P464) But for me, it is like we just take you around L.A.” He thought everything in Los Angeles would bring him inspiration of his music, and the music was also the representative of L.A. When you listen these music, you will know, it is Los Angeles, it is the soul of L.A., it is everything in L.A. This made me think about my home’s traditional music. In my city, there is a very famous mountain called Yimeng Mountain.  There is a very famous song called Yimeng song. It was sung by people from one generation to another. No matter where people come from, when they heard this song, they will know it’s a traditional song of Shandong Province. There are also many songs like that. In the Spring Festival evening party of CCTV in China, a very famous singer and Celine Dion sung a very famous song < The Jasmine>, when people heard this song, they seems feel the Jiangnan beautiful scenery. Also like the song < Liuyang River>, it made people think about the magnificent scenery and culture of Hunan Province in China. There are also many examples of other countries, like some famous Russian folk songs, they are impacted by the modern society and new style music, but they still keep the original spirit of their own.


Victor Hugo Viesca, Straight Out the Barrior: Ozomatli and the Importance of Place in the Formation of Chicano/ a Popular Culture in Los Angeles

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6 Responses to The original spirit of cultural music

  1. jeongyeon Ha says:

    I think the examples in your reading response is interesting and these examples can explain the mixture of the contemporary music style and their own music style which can show their identities.
    I think you try to use your own word, ‘sprit’ to explain the term ‘identities and indigenous style’.
    It was interesting for me to know the fact that “ Twelve Girls Band” are playing music with their traditional instruments combining with the mainstream music.
    In this reading, Chicano identity is combined with the contemporary music style and it is one of cultural creations. I agree that there are several instances of other countries. In Korea, there are some music which is similar to ‘Ozomatli”s music style.
    It would be more interesting if you have added some examples of music groups focused on their role enabling political activism and political coalitions.Because ‘Ozomatili”s music is not only known for its multiplicity of the sounds and the role played by its music in enabling political activism. This music is mainly about political issues combined with their own ‘chicano identity’. It was ‘ the product of – and a means for countering – the impact of globalization on low-wage workers and aggrieved racialized populations.'(SOB,464)

  2. Janice says:

    It’s interesting that the 12 Girls Band uses traditional Chinese instruments to play Western music (according to Wikipedia). That seems to be the closest semblance they bear to Ozomatli: taking instruments from a heritage and applying them to a contemporary setting, since 12 Girls isn’t based particularly in activism or social change — the group is more about entertainment.

    A lot of trending modern musical acts, though, are successful in taking a well-known/classical piece and reinterpreting it. Some people will play classic rock on traditionally-orchestral instruments (ex, Guns n Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” on two cellos), or maybe someone else records classic rock in a folksy style (as Max Raabe did with Queen’s “We Will Rock You”). These are not performances intended to result in social change, but they do a little bit of what Ozomatli does: they unite people. A cello player can listen to 2Cello’s cover of “Welcome to the Jungle” and be exposed to classic rock, and a GNR fan can listen to the same thing and be exposed to cellos. The concept of mashups and the crossing-over of styles (between Song A and Song B) makes A accessible to fans of B, and vice versa.

    Where you’re from, do you hear songs about social change on the radio or from friends? The activism/awareness songs that are in Ozomatli’s lyrical style don’t receive a lot of air time by popular radio stations because those songs aren’t afraid of shining a light on controversial topics (like race-based social inequality or corrupt governing bodies). One of the closest things I’d heard recently would maybe be “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire. It was a fairly successful song with lines like “But by the time the first bombs fell / We were already bored” and “And all of the houses they built in the seventies finally fall.” Arcade Fire, however, is indie rock, which is a genre nothing like the unabashedly diverse musical background of Ozomatli.

  3. Liz says:

    I agree that Ozomatli and Twelve Girls Band are similar in that they try to combine their traditional music and current music. Also, your representation reminds me other artists in Korea who try to put traditional music into current music. However, I think it is hard to come up with band like Ozomatli, they mix not only traditional music, but also other styles of music. Moreover, they put political messages in their song. I think that point, putting social messages into their song, makes Ozomatli great. I have never seen group who try to do this, except for Seotaiji in Korea.
    When I first read this reading material, Seotaiji is exactly like Ozomatli. Seotaiji is so called ‘Music President’ in Korea. He mixed heavy-metal, soft-rock, traditional music in Korea, and various type of hip hop. Not only just mixing the music styles, but also he wrote about social issues in his lyrics. For example, one of his songs, ‘Come back home’ is about teenage runway problem. After listening his song, many teenage runaways really came back their home and ‘Seotaiji syndrome’ began in 1990s. Truly! He also wrote about other social and political issues such as generational conflict, corruption in business and politics, and sovereignty problem between China and Korea.
    However, I’ve never seen artist like Ozomatli or Seotaiji.

  4. cekarri says:

    I find it interesting that you compared the Twelve Girls band with Ozomatli. While I had never heard of the Twelve Girls band before reading your reading response post I looked them up and found that they are really good! I like how they use traditional instruments and play them in non-traditional ways like you mentioned in your reading response. I agree with you to some degree when you said that Ozomatli takes you around Los Angels rather than around the world. Considering I had never heard of Ozomatli before this class (if I recall correctly no one else did either) I think it is difficult for them to claim that they take people all around the world. Around Los Angeles there are a lot of different cultures so I guess that is what they were trying to say. Their group is also very diverse so I think they were trying to make a point about going all around the world with the look and sound of their group. The group Ozomatli makes a pretty bold statement in my opinion but if that is how they feel I think they should attempt to become a little bit more well known.

  5. soolim says:

    I really enjoyed your reading response especially due to the Chinese girls band, “Twelve girls band”. I think it is the good example to compare Ozomatli to Twelve girls band. They have in common because they use their regional background in their song.
    It will be a tragedy if this kinds of band and song disappear. Imagine the world where there are left only commercial songs which do not have any meaningful message for the better society. Of course, commercial songs are also good and important. However, bands and songs dealing with political issues have an pivotal role in our society. .
    I really impressed your words, that “No matter where people come from, when they heard this song, they will know it’s a traditional song of Shandong Province” I think it represents well the location of the band like Ozomatli.

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