The Globalization of Musics in Transit: Music Migration and Tourism

Simone Krüger and Ruxandra Trandafoiu (eds.)
London: Routledge, 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-415-64007-7
RRP: US$140 (hardcover)

Garth Sheridan

RMIT University (Australia)

Advances in communication technologies and the global flow of people as tourists, workers and permanent or temporary migrants have facilitated the spread of music beyond their originating communities and across national borders. Accordingly, the globalization of music is an increasingly well-researched area of inquiry within popular music studies and ethnomusicology. Key themes within the area include the importance of music within diaspora communities, the role of globalization in cultivating musical diversity, the interruption of local cultural practice, cultural commodification, hybridity and appropriation. The Globalization of Musics in Transit engages with many of these themes and places the migration of people and music at the centre of each chapter. This review will feature a general overview of the collection, followed by discussion of the chapter most pertinent to scholars of electronic dance music culture.

The Globalization of Musics in Transit is grouped into two sections, “Music and Tourism” and “Music and Migration”. “Music and Tourism” features seven chapters that consider how music features in tourism discourses and how musical cultures develop around tourist subcultures. The discussions of these themes focus on topics including encounters between nomads and tourists in West Africa (Amico), music and cruise ships (Cashman and Hayward), the use of domestic and migrant musical culture in branding by European cities (Cohen and Roberts; Krüger) and the evolution of psyculture within transnational traveller groups (St John). “Music and Migration” consists of six chapters that discuss the practice of music in diaspora, the relationship between music and identity, appropriation and adaptation. These themes are related to discussions concerning the Ghanaian diaspora (Carl), identity and symbolism within South Africa's Jewish population (Muir) and the globalization of Balkan Gypsy music (Silverman). Present throughout the volume are concerns as to how people and musics take instruments, voices and musical styles through processes of diasporization and migration. The effects of transit and resettlement on musical practices are as much of interest as the evolution of new cultural traditions including forms of migratory or diasporic music.

Graham St John's chapter, “Goatrance Travellers: Psychedelic Trance and Its Seasoned Progeny”, analyses the development and spread of Goa Trance, psytrance and psyculture. While psyculture may be common ground for those familiar with St John's research, this chapter focuses on the role of tourism and travelling in establishing the communities involved in the culture's origination and global proliferation. St John builds on the work of D'Andrea (2007) in pointing to the formation of a transnational “freak” diaspora in Goa since the late 1960s. The concept of diaspora is engaged by St John to refer not to a national or ethnic group, but instead to a countercultural movement that is diverse in terms of political and personal philosophies, ethnicity and nationality. Music is kept at the fore in discussing the roots of psyculture, and the role of migratory artists including Goa Gil, DJ Laurent, Ben Watkins and Martin Glover is central to establishing Goa and psytrance as auditory, physical and metaphysical spaces for experiencing transcendental psyculture and the reimagining or “obliteration” (171) of the self.

St John critically outlines paths through which psyculture spread internationally, as practitioners, promoters and attendees took elements of the experiences and set to replicate and expand the culture at home and in other traveller enclaves throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The resulting cultural transit is related back to the themes of the collection, as the music is shown to have spread through the nomadic practices of travellers, and established an industry of festivals and publications that add to psyculture's global and migratory outlook. The culture's transnational roots become clear in St John's discussion of the links between Goa and Portugal's Boom festival, and the importance of Boom to global psyculture. Similarly, the analysis of the importation of psyculture to Israel as travellers established events there after taking part in seasons in Goa reveals patterns of musical migration. While the focus on the “freak” diaspora is strong, the research raises further questions regarding the relationship of psyculture to cultures and nations within which they operate, particularly regarding exclusionary practices of event organizers in Goa and Thailand, the impact of traveller-oriented psyculture in Brazil, or issues surrounding the commodification of Orientalist aesthetics.

The Globalization of Musics in Transit returns throughout to issues surrounding globalization and identity, two areas well covered within popular music studies and ethnomusicology. As Taylor reflects in the afterword, identity is an increasingly fractured, politicized and under-theorized concept. Taylor argues that this is particularly true in the study of poplar music, where discussion of identity (whether individual, cultural, national, social or musical) can become a placeholder for a substantive analysis of identity. Taylor raises further concerns that in such a discussion the ethnographer risks projecting their personal identity onto those studied. The Globalization of Musics in Transit resists such simplistic discussions and builds a picture of a complex global web of identities being challenged, built upon and reimagined through cultural practice, tourism and migration. The strong thematic focus and broad topic base mean this collection could be valuable to a range of research interests including popular music studies, cultural anthropology, diaspora studies and tourism studies.


D'Andrea, Anthony. 2007. Global Nomads: Techno and New Age as Transnational Countercultures in Ibiza and Goa. London: Routledge.