by Matthew Montfort, leader of Ancient Future.
I coined the term world fusion music in 1978 to describe my band Ancient Future's unusual blend of musical traditions from around the world.1 In my book on world rhythms, I define world fusion music as "music that combines ideas from many of the earth's traditions."2
The whole purpose of world fusion music is to encourage understanding between people through cross cultural exchange. People who understand each other are more likely to be able to work out conflicts peacefully than people who do not.
I like to look at world fusion music as a process. I've learned a lot from the different stages of world fusion music that could be of great help to the peace movement.
First stage world fusion music is what happens when musicians from different cultures who have no knowledge of each other's traditions try to find common ground. The results are usually mixed: some great moments and some moments of searching. Second stage world fusion music is the result of musicians studying many types of music for inspiration and knowledge, and then using that knowledge to create their art. This is where Ancient Future started in 1978. Third stage world fusion music is created by master musicians from many cultures who have for years been learning from each other and have developed a true understanding of each other's traditions. This is where Ancient Future is today. It has grown into a broad family of 19 world music masters who work together in a variety of smaller ensembles.
What this means to the peace movement is the more we understand each other's traditions and feelings, the more chance humanity has of reaching its full potential. This correlates to the process that happens when master musicians from different cultures perform together and the musicians grow from the exchange, learning techniques and forms that are new to them, making their music richer.
The peace movement needs to reach people who are not yet thinking about ways of cooperating to make a peaceful world, and music is a non-threatening way of reaching people. World fusion music has elements familiar to most people as well as elements that are exotic. In this way, it often opens people up to cultures other than their own. Out of new music that is living and breathing and fits in with people's lives today, an appreciation for people from other cultures can develop.
Great world fusion music shows how people from different cultures can create something unique, beautiful, and inspiring. In this time of war, world fusion music shows a positive way to interact, to learn from each other, and to resolve differences.
Being in a band is like being married to many people at once, so you can imagine that there are many conflicts in most bands. In Ancient Future, we have ensembles where not even the parent cultures of the musicians get along. Yet, in the making of the music, one can see the unity that does exist. We have a version of the band with Palestinian and Jewish musicians playing together, and it is one of my favorite's. In my experience, some of the best music can come out of conflict.
As this planet becomes more aware of itself as a whole, a growing number of musicians are now experimenting with new combinations of world music styles. Ancient Future has been dedicated exclusively to the mission of creating world fusion music since its inception. Today world fusion music is a standard term used in the music industry. More importantly, it has become a passion and life's work for many musicians who find it artistically stimulating to create music by integrating ideas from more than one tradition.
However, this music is not supported by a music industry that only cares about profits and is caught up in believing in a marketing categorization system that cannot accommodate creativity. But those that believe in creating peace can be part of a grass roots movement to support the world fusion music movement, as the lessons learned from this endeavor can help humanity to create the same sort of harmony that is created in the music.
In turn, the world fusion music movement wholeheartedly supports the peace movement. Indeed, world peace is the very reason for the existence of the world fusion music movement. As the coiner of the term world fusion music, I'm offering my services for benefit performances and speaking engagements on creating peace through music. I also am willing to donate music rights to peace organizations for use in fund raising CDs and videos.
Peace organizations wishing to receive audio and video samples of world fusion music by Ancient Future can call 1-888-823-8887 toll free or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's link up!
1 Stephen Hill, Guide to C.T.I.S. Music, (San Francisco: Hearts of Space Press, 1981), 36.
2 Matthew Montfort, Ancient Traditions--Future Possibilities Rhythmic Training Through the Traditions of Africa, Bali, and India (Mill Valley: Panoramic Press, 1985), 1.