3 posts from December 2015

December 14, 2015

“Cosmic American Music”: Religiosity and Old-Time America

Joshua Kalin Busman (University of North Carolina, Pembroke)

In August 1968, California rock band The Byrds released their sixth full-length recording, an album of mostly country-western cover songs called Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Up to Sweetheart’s release, The Byrds had been primarily associated with two important musical styles of the 1960s. Their first two records drew on the aesthetic and political sensibilities of the American folk music revival, marrying simple musical textures and song forms with politically progressive lyrical messages. The title tracks from their first two albums, Mr. Tambourine Man (1965) and Turn! Turn! Turn! (1965), were written by Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger respectively, both iconic figures within the folk music movement. In early 1966, The Byrds began writing and recording in a new direction, incorporating elements of psychedelic rock experimentalism that would characterize their next three records. In particular, “Eight Miles High” from Fifth Dimension (1966) captures this experimentation by incorporating elements of Indian classical music and free jazz alongside its psychedelically influenced lyrics.

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December 7, 2015

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the “World Beat Dilemma”

Joshua Kalin Busman (University of North Carolina, Pembroke)


Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan provides the soundtrack for a Coca-Cola advertisement.


“Here's a world beat dilemma for you: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is one of the world's great singers, but his qawwali music is intended for Sufi Muslim religious ceremonies in Pakistan. How can Khan … be made palatable to the general listener?”

—Ron Givens, Entertainment Weekly

In the spring of 1991, it was perhaps surprising to readers of Entertainment Weekly to find a review of the most recent album by qawwali artist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. As the review notes, qawwali is a devotional style of music associated with Sufi Islam, and Khan, a Pakistani singer and composer, is the world’s foremost proponent of the style. Born in Faisalabad, Pakistan in 1948, Khan first came to the attention of Western audiences as one of the original acts to participate in Peter Gabriel’s World of Music, Arts and Dance festivals in 1982. Following his popular exposure through the festival, Khan was signed to Gabriel’s newly formed Real World Records label and collaborated with Gabriel on the 1989 soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. The album being reviewed is Mustt Mustt, Khan’s first collaboration with Canadian guitarist and producer Michael Brooks and his second release for the Real World imprint.

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December 3, 2015

The Avid Listener Digest, December 2015

To help readers navigate the growing list of essays published on The Avid Listener, we've created a downloadable "digest." In it, you'll find links to all our content—organized by category—as well as information on upcoming features. Check it out, and keep coming back for more!

Download The Avid Listener Digest December 2015

The Society Pages Community Blogs


For media inquiries and information about how to submit work to The Avid Listener, please contact Julie Kocsis, managing editor.

Norton Music

A History of Western Music

J. Peter Burkholder, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca

The Enjoyment of Music

Kristine Forney, Andrew Dell’Antonio, and Joseph Machlis

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