January 30, 2014
1. An economic realm
At a first glance, "international" is just an economic realm, a continental separation between developed and under-developed groups of countries, but the consequences are far-reaching for all aspects of cultural production and artistic trajectories. Regarding the music market, the US, Japan, and the UK dominate in record sales, followed by France, Germany, Canada, Spain, Australia and a few more. One could safely assume that they represent, to a certain extent, the International industry.
Yet for decades now, another shapeless world has been developing at the periphery of the International sphere. Comprised of many diverse countries with complex socio-political histories, this outer domain holds some common features regarding modes of music production, consumption, and proliferation. Today for this outer-world we have diverse names. One of the most (in)famous is “World Music” ("Musique du Monde"); another term less frequently used but randomly appearing is “Outernational”.
Of course it is a blurry map, with lots of intersections, exceptions and indistinct borderlines. Brazil stands out as a particular example within the Outernational sphere, already in the sixties managing to reach out to the world through its cultural production in spite of a harsh dictatorship at home. As stated in Oswald de Andrade's Manifesto Antropófago, the Tropicalia movement cannibalized Western culture and transgressed genres and territories, with Tropicalia records released to great success both in Europe and Brazil. Brazilian musicians set foot in the International history very early on.
The cases of artists like Fela Kuti or Bob Marley add to the fogginess of the International-Outernational distinction. Once arrived in London or New York during the 1960s and 70s, their music influenced Western sounds forever, revealing whole new genres and instantly becoming internationally famous.
“The Outernational domain seems defined by obscurity, grey margins, unequal times of exposure, dark spots, frequent amnesia and violent shifts.”