Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Global Groove

What follows is the final chapter, lightly edited, of my (self-published) e-book, The Life and Times of a Musical Virus: A Critical History of the Rhythm Section. To provide a bit of context, I'll quote from the blurb posted at the Amazon website:
In one form or other, the rhythm section underlies just about every popular genre one can think of, and is consequently heard in literally every corner of our “globalized” world. It can certainly be characterized as a “musical virus,” since it has so infectiously “infected” so much of the music we know and love, from just about any tradition, and in so profound a manner. So where did it come from? And what does it mean? 
Tracking his subject to its roots, Grauer takes us back to Bach and the so-called “baroque” period, where a remarkably similar practice, known as basso continuo, also went viral, to dominate just about all musical performances of that era in every corner of the Western world. According to Grauer, the origins of the continuo lie in still earlier developments in the popular dance music of the towns and aristocratic courts of Europe, dating to the 16th century -- and the musical revolution that followed, where, as he demonstrates, it was a key factor in the birth and development of the tonal system itself.
While the bulk of my book deals with the complex history of the rhythm section, going all the way back to the 16th century, the final chapter deals mostly with its role in the world of today, focusing on the economics, and politics, of globalization. As this chapter is especially timely, in a manner that warrants wider dissemination, I've decided to make it freely available here.