Letter: Musical challenge

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Philip Sweeney's article on French pop ("Si, si, nous sommes des rock stars", 27 July) provides a useful corrective to Hamish McRae's apologia for American cultural cleansing ("America - the gentle giant?", 22 July). McRae's statement that "the US is the only country in the world that can export popular culture" is an ill-informed assertion which Sweeney's article goes some way towards correcting. However, Sweeney's piece still contains damaging assertions.

Nick Harris's comment on French (and by implication all non-US) dance music that "it all comes from the USA at the end of the day" is allowed to pass unchallenged. But without the influence of European electronic producers of the Seventies and Eighties - above all Kraftwerk - the US techno scene could not have emerged in the successful form that it has.

The influence of European electronic music is acknowledged by all the main Detroit techno producers (Jeff Mills, Mike Banks, Juan Atkins etc) and some of these artists have enjoyed more success in Europe than the US, where many dislike the music because of its "European" qualities.

Having established that there is much to discover in French music, Sweeney cautions that "the snag is, you need to learn French". This exemplifies Anglo prejudice: the "snag" for the rest of the world is that they have to learn English.

Fortunately, the linguistic barrier is not insurmountable. Even a German- language band such as Rammstein can break into the American market. Further, the success of dance and electronic musics from not just France, but (for instance) Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Japan and territories which the Anglocentric perspective renders even more marginal such as Slovenia, is helping to undermine Anglo-American hegemony.


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