Global Beat Fusion: The History of the Future of Music
by Derek Beres
Book Review by William Doty, Ph. D.
Frequent readers of any of the various schools of speculative
fiction/"science fiction" will be aware that there are terms no author has to clarify
when using: sophont, for instant, or maglev — for magnetic
levitation of vehicles, already a daily experienced reality in countries outside the
now rather backward technology of the USA. Derek Beres's first book was to me
— someone with several decades of music study and performance,
producing classical programming for a public radio station, and managing a
chamber orchestra — a bit like a non-habitué of sf suddenly reading
an sf classic. It seemed like at least a hundred types of world music —
"international electronica" — and as many instruments that I'd never heard of.
No matter: he clarifies many in a glossary or in the text (an index would have
helped enormously). The point is no "match the columns" quiz here, but "Relax, dude
[or is it — at 66, I'm no longer sure I grok the argot — dudess]
and enjoy the light show!" Or in this case soundshow, and while I've never experienced
the DJ'd club scenes Beres is a master at, I've had my earwax simply melted away by
the CDs he has mixed and sent to me over the last year. (We met briefly at the Mythic
Journeys 2004 conference, where he presented Mythika Electronika; turns out he did
a BA in Religious Studies at Rutgers, where I used to teach).
There are so many things going on in this volume, it is sometimes like relapses
to MJ '04 and hints of the forthcoming '06. But as with Journeys, it coheres, largely
thanks to Beres's energy, coming from a source deep within his praxis of yoga/s
(which he teaches in New York). And I am reminded of Joseph Campbell stating that
his yogic practice was underlining books as he read — clearly Beres's "other"
yoga is Joe's as well, because he's been a Voracious Reader, and a student especially
of Asian-Indian materials. His style is sometimes off the wall with philosophical and
religious insights that suggest an ancient mind in his young frame.
The book cries out for digital hypertexts — I don't think I might have been
so impressed with it, had I not had those CDs in my inner head (check out samples
Website www.globalbeatfusion.com; his first published DJ-mixed CD,
Moving Stillness, on One World Music came out in May). But it remains
wonderfully humane, not spacecat stuff, largely because he remains clear about
how his own autobiography is something to be proud of (Hungarian roots, maybe
Rom, the way I've sometimes wondered if American Indian blood flows in me). And
how skillfully and respectfully he turns repeatedly to statements from the many world
music performers he's worked with. They are carefully cited (and photographed) in
the same manner to indicate his respect for them all; he is a marvelously sympathetic
interviewer, as he has shown in many performance and artist reviews in music mags
The "future" of the subtitle that Beres presages is rooted in the various "folk"
musics that global beat fusion enfolds (or "infuses," as American Heritage Dictionary
suggests: "To introduce (a solution) into the body through a vein for therapeutic
purposes"). But not just as quaint tones ukuleled at a Honolulu luau — "folk"
as in Astor Piazzola's astonishing tangos for bandaneon that Kronos Quartet has
featured, or the sort of extravaganzas my generation experienced in the bravura
performances of Ravi Shankar. We are at a point where a truly 21st
century musical scene is being birthed, and this book (alas without accompanying
CD) is a bit like the US Declaration of Independence. Forget where we have been;
here's the Ellis Island gates disgorging a whole new mythical musicality.
As a child in mountain New Mexico, I used to be glad when I was ill on a Sunday
morning, and could stay home to listen to the one hour of classical music to be heard
(of course, on a commercial station — "culture" to the vast majority of the
American landscape has always meant "elitist"). That one hour a week led me to
a lifelong love, to piano and then cornet and for the longest stretch of time, French horn
and solo/choral voice.
I think Global Beat Fusion might be the equivalent of that hour for many
people, not of course, necessarily to my classical path, but to a revolutionary/
evolutionary sonic awakening. Reading this book, one realizes that "music" to
Derek Beres is as it was to the ancient Greeks: not what one practices after the
day's lessons and homework, but an attunement of the psyche, a (piano-)tuning
of the intellect, an emotional discipline that may stabilize one's life, even to long-life
and the hereafter, should there be one.
Global Beat Fusion:The History of the Future of Music. by Derek Beres
New York: Outside the Box Publishing-iUniverse, 2005. Pb. $21.95. 0-595-34899-8.
Global Beat Fusion on the web
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