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The pulse of the backbeat is omnipresent in today’s global popular music. In what way is the predominance of syncopation historically related to the invention of the drum set and the establishment of the triad of bass drum, snare, and hi-hat? How has it revalued the role of percussion in European music since the beginning of the 20th century? The drum set is a hybrid aggregate of diverse percussion instruments and musical influences that can be traced back to West-Africa, Europe, and China, as well as to the Maghreb region and the Middle East. Exemplary for the transfer and transformation of musical practices and instruments that accompanied colonialism, transatlantic slavery, and migration, it resulted from the interaction between local and imported cultures, the active appropriation and interconnection of styles. Today it is primarily the new technological conditions of transnational networking and crosslinking, digital production, and dissemination of music that enable processes of transfer and transformation as well as generating multifaceted combinations of local rhythm traditions and underground styles with globally successful formats such as Hip-hop or Techno. Notably, these are still predominantly beat-based forms of music, music you can dance to. What does it mean, then, to take the drum set and the backbeat as point of entry to tell a global history of music that is shaped by transnational shifts and movements, to perceive musical innovation as a result of migration? In what ways does such a perspective change common notions of center and periphery, of tradition and modernity, and of regional distinctiveness and global trans-locality?