At the Vanguard of World Music

At the Vanguard of World Music|At the Vanguard of World Music

Derek Beres, a shaman of sorts, navigates the merging styles, sensibilities wrought by technology

The world lives in New York City. Cultures from around the globe move in next door to each other. Streets become national boundaries. In Lower Manhattan, Chinese share a border with Italians. Puerto Ricans share a neighborhood with the Irish. Throughout the city, people of all ethnicities live in the same community, and walk through the streets with iPods piping into their ears music collaged together from distant lands and eras. Popular, mainstream musicians like Rufus Wainwright, Missy Elliot, Dave Matthews, and countless others are already bridging chasms that once seemed to divide the world’s musical styles for mainstream audience through their popular music.

Derek Beres is one of those who walks the streets tuned to music, and he has articulated a definition of music’s future as the fusion of times past and far away places into a global musical style, a concept he explores intellectually, creatively, and musically through his new book, “Global Beat Fusion: The History of the Future of Music.”

The book, which includes a CD mix of world music, is a sort of sophisticated chronicle of Beres’ philosophical findings about the influence of technology on the globalization and reinvention of music in our world today.

As a journalist, DJ, and yoga instructor, Beres continually explores the impact of mythology on culture and music. While spinning tunes, he does research, looking out over the crowd, actively watching the thriving club culture vibrate. He analyzes and reports his findings, tracing sonic and social similarities between bhangra and hip-hop, blues and qawwali, reggae and devotional Hindu.

“The instrumentation may be different between world musics,” Beres said in a statement accompanying his release, “but there is a similar language running throughout all folk forms. Sometimes the aim is social and political, while other times it is spiritual and devotional. They all invoke a state of camaraderie between both individual and community, as well as the person and whatever belief in a higher source they have. The history of music is a constantly unfolding feedback loop particular to the region while universal in intent.”

“All over the planet, DJs and producers are taking elements of their culture’s traditional music and splicing it into electronic songs,” Beres writes in his book. “What we create out of our exterior surroundings is representative of what occurs inside of us, in turn a mirror image of the world we live within. The global village goes digital.”

The CD accompanying the book includes tracks from artists featured in the book. The music not only serves as useful multi-media evidence for Beres’ assertions, but also as a curious and invigorating collection of music to spice up and diversify any music collection.

Beres has been called “a modern-day shaman,” a sort of music guru moving among us, keenly exploring our world culture through the sounds we use to satisfy and excite us. He has created his own niche in the realm of global music journalism and anthropology by exploring the source of seemingly disparate sacred and traditional folk styles through the use of modern electronica.

Most importantly, Beres discovers and shares information and sounds from far-flung musicians who have begun to adapt their musical culture to that of the world at large. “Global Beat Fusion” features interviews and conversations with some of the world’s most prolific musicians, including, among several others, kirtan master Krishna Das, Polish hardcore folkers Warsaw Village Band, and Cuban pianist Omar Sosa.

Beres has come to find similarities not only among music worldwide, but also among spiritualities.

“I’m not Muslim, nor religious at all,” writes Beres, “but through the process of music I’ve learned to speak a thousand languages praising thousands of gods in the same few words.”