Music is the rhythmical use of words that produce a certain follow which can be assisted with use of instruments such as drums, guitars, pianos etc (Philip, 11). Music is an art like painting or drawing and it involves different genres (Philip, 27). Music is made of different genres corresponding with its geographical and historical sets. It comprises hip hop, blues, rocks, reggae, jazz and so many others. World music is one of these music genres. World class music is a type of genre that involves two other set of genres. Its invention was a strong thing in the generation of human as it really assisted in the study of human emotions in different regions (Michael).
In early 1980s, Paul Simon had already made a platform of his rock and roll music in the United States. Despite the achievement he had made in the duo Simon and Garfunkel in the 1970s, he was facing the hard times in his career in the 1980s. Despite him maintaining a skillful reputation, several albums were unsuccessful in the 1980s (Philip 19). He was really struggling to maintain the sales amount he had grown to be selling in the previous years. In the year 1985, Simon Paul released the album Graceland among the songs in it were diamonds on the sole of her shoe and call ‘me al’. This album made a boom on his sales to date (James, 20). Simon had
made a trip to South Africa in the time of political crises and was greatly inspired. In his return to home, Simon composed the album and despite allegations that it was interfering with the political status of the country the album sold millions copies. The album opened the world to the spirit and culture of the South African people. It brought the vivid idea of non western music that through music emotions of different culture can correlate harmoniously (James, 23). Simon had traveled to South Africa to find a musical style that would revive his career and sure he did find one.
The desire to create an appealing album and still remain true to his cultural ways was a boom in the album. In his work, genuine sound and rhythms of South Africa Simon discovered the similarities between the popular songs in the country and American rock and roll music. The album not only opened the rich heritage of the country but also the cultural struggle due to colonialism. Simon Paul was not new in Anglo-American music he had done other hits like mother and child reunion, el condor pasa (Philip 87). In the album, Graceland Simon collaborated two different traditions. He venturing into the album was so normal but it brought out great ideas in the history of rock and roll. Before travelling to South Africa, Paul Simon had sought advice from other artists in his country who gave him positive ideas. Paul travelled to South Africa and met with the black African union and asked them to accept his collaboration (Michael).
They accepted the collaboration and this was such a great opportunity for Simon to collaborate with talented artist. In real sense, it was such a great deal to the black artists to who had never been heard beyond Soweto due to political regime (Philip 41). In the country, the musician referred to him as the man who opened the door. Listening to the diamonds on her shoes one hears the interrelationship between vocals and instruments. The bass line imitates the vocal introduction used in Thomas Mapfuko song (Michael). At the end of the song, there is a joint phase by the vocals and bass line saying “Tanana”. When the vocals start singing “Tanana”, the bass provide a ground line for the tight harmonies. In the midst, the bass line becomes more vivid bringing the rhythmical ideas of the song. The complexity of echoes from Simon’s singing is a distinctive African feature. This ability to directly improvise is technique is from kwela way of music. Kwela is an African way of sing that involves guitar, banjo, pennywhistle and one-string box bass (Gerhard, 238).
The melodic theme is still present and this flexibility of style allows variation of voice line. The similarity between Thomas Mapfumo song and Paul Simon’s Diamonds on the Sole of Her Shoes illustrates the existence of numerous styles (Philip 15). This work is continued in the song You Can Call Me Al. This song had great success in the American public at large. The song brings the essences of unity between human (James, 29). The song begins with an African funk dance and in the bridge that’s where one hears and evidence influence of the kwela style by a pennywhistle. As it proceeds, the pennywhistle becomes more vivid and clear. There is also reference of Mbube style. Mbube is a South African Zulu way sing. This is evidenced in the call and response part in the bass line, also the use of vocal effects depicts the same (Michael).
The use of both African artist and American artist defines unity and also brings out the idea that different cultures can correlate harmonically. Symbolically the song diamonds on the sole of her shoes illustrates the condition and state of the people in there that they have all the riches but they don’t get to enjoy them and although Simon depicted it as not political its worlds tend to really differ with the same. From the beginning of the album Graceland, Simon shows the South African impulses which pervade it. In the song “the boy in the bubble” initial thoughts of the song are depicted in the single solo line played by the accordion. The accordion is an instrument normally used in the traditional South African popular music.
The accordion in the begin of the album shows the important role of introducing the South African character providing link to the rest of the songs. In the song there is a strong influence of the Mbaqanga style. This was a style created by the Bantus in South Africa who were suffering the poor conditions and racial discrimination in the 20th century. In the style the bass line does not serve as a foundation of rhythm and harmonies ideas but plays an important role in the melodic development. This strengthen s the melodic and harmonious ideas of the song “the boy in the bubble”. In real sense the vocal and bass line in the song tend to differ but the similarities in rhythm tend to bring them showing how they are related. This is t5he main feature of Mbaqanga style. Through instrumentation and style characteristics Simon brings out the best use of Mbaqanga style in the song “the boy in the bubble”.
The accordion, bass and drums in the song “the boy in the bubble” are perfumed by a South African group known as Tao Ea Matsekha popularly based in the tradition style. Simon listened to them through a tape and was really fascinated by their voices. Instead of creating the same in the studios in America Simon opted to go to South Africa to record with them a song.(james,81). Simon’s commitment to use the South African style was very clear. His desire to collaborate with the original creators of the sound was very important in the album. Despite the problems of language barrier Simon had venture to work with them if even in the absence of them not knowing much about this career.
Though the music of Mbaqanga was new to the American people the album sold a million copies to two million. The album helped Paul regain popularity that he had lost in the 1970s. Publications like the rolling stones were quick to praise the album after its release. This was really a boom in his career and also to the South African music.