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#500 - The Evolution of a Radio Program

Program 500

ARTIST ... Origin
Title  Duration
(Album) [Label]

I feel compelled to begin tonight's journey with a selection befitting a respectable "world music" program. My tongue is firmly in my cheek here because I recently sent this reply EMail to a relevant group of mostly radio broadcasters from around the world. My subtle suggestion of "extremely eclectic" went over the heads of most respondents who instinctively nibbled and insisted that there is little wrong with the term "world music". After all (and even I concede this point), everybody knows what you mean when you use it.

^Subject: Is This Kansas,Toto?
^The wild westerly and easterly winds have blown me all over the place
^venturing over here. Needless to say, I've missed a few on the road signs
^along the way.
^World music then, would be a little of this and a little of that, like
^bluegrass, celtic, folk, reggae and others or is it all grouped together
^under just one title: world music?
^Thanks for holding the sign close to my eyes, so Toto and I really know
^where we are. Bill :-)


A gently expressed melange is comforting, but the meaningless term "World Music" has been thrown back in the faces of Western interviewers by such talents as Miriam Makeba and Hossam Ramzy who suggest that it grew out of cultural imperialism, implying Third World Music.

So the term "World Music" has become a convenient marketing tool carelessly perpetuated by promoters and broadcasters like us.

Resitance is not futile, nor is an extremely eclectic radio program.

Enjoy your weekend.

La Canal 4'38
(Rumba Argelina) [World Circuit]
A delicious mixture of Spanish music with gallons of Moorish influence.

VÄRTTINÄ .... Finland
Mie Tahon Tanssia 3'05
(Aitara) [Xenophile]

SOUTH SINAI BEDOUINS - Selim SELIMAN (musical director), lead voice, oud, simsimiyya (oil-can "lute") .... Egypt
Nartiji Wa Al-Raja Fi Allah 2'46
(Music of the South Sinai Bedouins: Music of Islam Vol.2) [Celestial Harmonies]

Some of you know that the first 8 years of my PBS career (1981-89) included presenting long-form rock, instrumental and electronic music programs, and later more ambient/atmospheric excursions. A very wide-ranging weekly daytime rock/electronic diversion figured into this equation too.

To my astonishment, I now consider some of the music that I enjoyed during that time completely disposable or transitory.

In hindsight, the strange collection of music listed below (from Program #1) partly accommodated what began as the brief for this program - to cover two or three broad areas of music, and to provide an eclectic selection for an evening audience. I now know it was a watershed.

12 min collage of music played in Program #1
Sunday February 5 1989  9:30-11pm

  • UNTITLED RED .... Australia
    Aquatic (PBS Recording of a Live-to-air performance - April 1988) [unreleased]
  • Christopher WOOD .... Australia
    Long March / Druid dreaming (Christopher Wood - Guitarist LP) [independent]
  • ART OF NOISE .... UK
    Galleons of Stone - Opus for Four (In no sense? Nonsense!) [China]
  • Mory KANTE .... Mali / Paris
    Tama (Akwaba Beach) [Barclay]
  • Jaco PASTORIUS .... USA
    Opus Pocus (Jaco Pastorius LP)
    Complete CD-EP (Words with the Shaman) [Virgin]
  • Irene PAPAS / VANGELIS .... Greece
    Menousis (Odes) [PolyGram]
  • CLANNAD .... Ireland
    Sirius (Sirius) [Celtic Music]
  • CLANNAD .... Ireland
    Teidhir Abhaile Rui (Ring of Gold) [RCA]
  • MOTIONLESS SCENE .... Australia
    Weather Apart (Melbourne New Age Collection Cassette) [independent PBS-FM]
  • Andrew Thomas WILSON .... Australia
    Aluminium City (Carnarvon LP) [EMI]
  • Suzanne VEGA .... Canada
    Night Vision (Solitude Standing) [A&M]

REPLAY:  Program #42
Sunday December 17 1989  6 - 7:30pm
Australian Music Week Special, including ...

    Expanse (Expanse LP) [independent]
    Cathedral of Trees (Rainforest LP) [independent cassette]
  • Peter MUMMÉ
    No Standing Room Only (Veronica Takes A Bath) [independent cassette]
    Rural soundscape (Mumbles) [independent cassette]
    Wattle Blossom (Eucalypt) [independent cassette]
    Organic Eargasm (Veronica Takes A Bath) [independent cassette]

Next are three pieces that highlight my continuing passion for finely-crafted (yet difficult to define) atmospheric / eclectic / hybridized music ...

The NECKS ....Australia
Aquatic 1   ~4'00
(Aquatic) [Fish-of-Milk]

Mark HOLLIS .... UK
The Gift   4'20
(Mark Hollis) [PolyGram]

Paolo MODUGNO .... Italy
Tammuriata   ~4'00
(Le bala et la mouche) [Robi Droli / Newtone]

Several factors have shaped this program up to the present day

1. responding to your feedback
2. a genuine need to compliment other "world-wide" music programs on PBS
3. PBS policy that does not limit program presenter/producers to any playlists or impose formulae
4. my own continually and dramatically evolving musical taste

With regard to the latter (and as I have revealed on air at times), I have shunned a few recent trends in electronic music, especially the ruthlessly mechanical and soulless incarnations popular with the ravers who would probably throb in time to a 160bpm metronome if it were fed through a 2000 watt subwoofer. The magic missing ingredient for me here is the human factor, and an ability to count past 4. Everything has a rightful place though.

For my own music making in that area, removing the inhuman factor from lifeless computerised production tools is the most difficult aspect of creating something personally satisfying - in short (for those with knowledge of sequencers and samplers) the need to turn the quantizing OFF, to spend hours programming expressive dynamics and variances into your programmed sounds, and to spend time on detail.

So here is the paradox - listening to the music of the world broadens my appreciation, and over time I feel that I have learnt to gauge good performances of almost any genre. However, the more I listen to acoustic performances of traditional music (from wherever), the more difficult it becomes for me to have any real passion for filtering musical ideas through electronic devices.

I hope this helps you understand why Continental Drift has evolved so substantially over the first 500 programs.

  • REPLAY: Interview from Program #81
    Sunday August 19 1990  6 - 7:30pm
    A nervous Lisa Gerrard meets an equally nervous presenter, live-to-air
    The Song of the Sibyl (Aion) [4AD]
    Mephisto (Aion) [4AD]
  • REPLAY: Interview from Program #109
    Sunday March 3 1991  6 - 7:30pm
    Australian Music veterans Mike Rudd and Bill Putt, live-to-air
    Trust Me (Live recording from the Limmerick Arms Hotel March 2 1991)

Trilok GURTU .... India / Germany
Deep Tri   7'02
(Usfret) [CMP]

  • REPLAY: Interview from Program #194
    Sunday October 29 1992  6 - 7:30pm
    Darrin Verhagen reveals the first of many CD releases, live-to-air
    Open Wound (Bloody Tourist) [Extreme]
    Nkoma (Bloody Tourist) [Extreme]
  • REPLAY: Interview from Program #367
    Sunday March 3 1996  10:30pm - Midnight
    Hossam Ramzy blows through Melbourne at the end of the Page & Plant world tour. Recorded at his hotel on the same day
  • Hossam RAMZY
    Night Foal (Baladi Plus) [ARC Music]
    Arabian Nights (Baladi Plus) [ARC Music]
  • REPLAY:  Garry loses it. Program #344
    Sunday September 24 1995  10:30pm - Midnight
    A personal guide to premium traditional-style CDs. A program filled with emotionally-charged and intimate music got the better of me on this occasion ...
  • Hamza El-DIN
    The Visitors (Eclipse) [Ryko]

The NECKS ....Australia
Aquatic 2   ~2'00
(Aquatic) [Fish-of-Milk]