The title Symbiotica refers to the close association of two or more different kinds of things. Biological symbiosis is a long-term partnership between two or more different species, such as flowers and flying insects, or trees and fungi, for example. Cultural symbiosis is a persistent relationship between different cultural objects, such as a cell phone that incorporates phone, camera, email, and internet; or computers, corporate mergers, consumer malls, opera, etc. In music, instruments or voices representing diverse content, forms, or styles heard simultaneously can be said to be ‘symbiotic’.

The term ‘cross-cultural music’ refers to recorded pieces that combine two or more unlikely, or apparently unrelated, musical elements, styles, or genres.

Creating a mixup of radically different musical ideas and forms invites the listener to identify with global processes of integration and connection.

For the past several decades, the world has embraced the ideal of cultural diversity, but today we are learning at ground level exactly how to live and work with others supportively, even though we may not share similar values or ideals. We are already witnessing new hybrids that reflect this uncommonality. On the global scale, new world organizations, coalitions, and partnerships are emerging. In cities, there are recurring examples of cross-cultural activity such as fusion restaurants, fashion composites, musical mash-ups, and more. These are clear attempts to synthesize and transcend cultural difference.

In this online setting, you can move through the program at your own pace, read a Complementary Text that precedes the music, and select each of the musical offerings in any order. And you can go back and listen to something again. Or you can listen to the Podcast from beginning to end without interruption.

The Program Notes (reluctantly) are accompanied by the music, so that you can read the notes while listening. (Go to Program Notes for this option.)

Some of the musical pieces on this recording are paired with a ‘complementary text’ that contains a subject related to the music. A text is available for viewing by clicking on its name just above the title of the music. When possible, read the text aloud.

Surprisingly, reading the Complementary Texts may dramatically change the way you listen to the music. The pairing of text and music is not arbitrary, but is intended to heighten the listening experience by connecting the music with a related idea. In ‘live’ performances, I have often read aloud selected texts that were coupled with specific musical pieces.

There are two volumes of Symbiotica – A Cross-Cultural Mixup. (To listen to Vol. 2, click on Sister Site in the right Sidebar.)

Amber Vistein’s review of Vol. 1 can be found under the menu heading ‘Reviews’.

The MP3’s are UNAVAILABLE for purchase. None of the music is, or has been, sold commercially. It is intended for online playback only and is not downloadable.

J. H.

(Header photo credit: Ron Wallace – Cross St., Chatham, Massachusetts)