Street culture, vacant niches, and a crevasse too wide and deep to cross

July 5, 2019

 

 

 

Recently I’ve attempted a study of the changing styles of invasive auditory contaminants.  And the City of Merida has passed new regulations which will reign in the abusers (bars, antros, restaurants, night clubs).  The regulations are in effect  now  and the abusers will start paying high fines very soon.

 

      Our small hotel, through the years since 1983, has hired many young people, mainly students.  And since opening Casa Mexilio and Taberna Mexilio, part of understanding the competition’s appeal and success is to actually visit, listen, and interview the participants of similar businesses.  I go, usually alone, to antros and bars known for loud ‘music’ - to listen and observe.

       The young people who sometimes work at Casa Mexilio teach me more.  They move around the building, sometimes with the hum of smartphone audio in their pants.  They don’t know what they are listening to. And the hum is similar to the always on radio that my mother played to keep the baby from waking up.

 

     Young Mexicans appreciate a very poor, and oft vulgar imitation of the lowest class culture which the United States exports.  But now, with YouTube and Spotify and Soundcloud in their pockets, its not exactly low class anymore.

 

      Out of Panama and Puerto Rico, during the 1970 to 1990 period, came something called reggaetón - a mix of claves, snare, kick drum, rap lyrics and some Spanish song lyrics, a genre that continues to grow in popularity. 

 

      The once common cumbia, a Colombian musical export/import, ruled until very few years ago, when young people ceased to support the traditional cumbia dance halls.  Still, in rural areas, cumbia is king.

 

      I  do not object - but the steady diet of these genres causes a type of cultural paralysis.  As someone who got stuck in the Russian Romanticism and Baroque niches for too many years, Ive tried to learn to be open to second dimension sounds and composers.  

 

      Rap, hip hop, and reggaetón are a road too far.

 

      A few years ago, the country of Mexico invited me to  represent Yucatan and to take part in a National Organ Festival in the grandest temple of culture in Mexico, the Auditorio Nacional, a building containing the largest and most impressive tubular organ in Latin America.

 

      The music I chose for this event was purely intellectual, French Twentieth Century - Maurice Duruflé, who only died six years after I moved to Mexico, and Marcel Dupré, another who astounded the world with his art during the first half of the Twentieth Century. 

 

Few would listen to this music, on purpose, and even fewer would use their own money to purchase it.  That was my point.  I guess the kids are making the same point -- to me ?

 


 

 

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