Continental Drift

Wednesday 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Genres: International
Host: Elizabeth Cowan

Continental Drift is Atlanta’s longest running international music radio program. Featuring quality traditional and contemporary music from around the planet, you can listen to the world on Continental Drift. We play music from a different country every week!

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continental drift 2/1/23: el salvador

Welcome back to another week of Continental Drift. Today we are drifting 1400 miles southwest to El Salvador. Find the playlist here, and listen back to the episode here.

The Republic of El Salvador is located in the center of Central America, bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Honduras, and Guatemala. It is home to 6.5 million people, making it the 112th most populated country in the world. Their official language is Spanish.

The music of El Salvador was impacted in many ways by colonization. Indigenous Salvadorans had instruments such as the flute and drums, and when European colonizers came they brought with them the guitar, trumpet, and piano. The biggest impact, however, came from West African slaves who brought the xylophone, marimba, guira, and mbira with them. 

Stamp: Xylophone (Marimba de arco) Surcharged (El Salvador(Musical  Instruments) Mi:SV 1347,Sn:SV C492,Yt:SV PA466,Sg:SV 1669The xylophone is El Salvador’s national instrument

Xylophone sample:
El Celoso, Fox Trot – Marimba Centroamericana 1928

We’ll now go to a classic genre of central america: cumbia. We talked about Cumbia a lot in the Colombian episode of drift, specifically chicha, which is the Colombian regional version. Cumbia is just as popular in El Salvador. It is a dance music that comes from a blend of European, African, and indigenous styles. In El Salvador there exists Cumbia marmibera, which includes the marimba. 

Cumbia segment:
Salvadorena // Los Hermanos Flores
Se Me Perdió la Cadenita // La Sonora Dinamita, Lucho Argain

MINED autoriza desfilar antes del discurso de Bukele por el Día de la  Independencia

Performing Xuc

Xuc is a popular form of folk music in El Salvador. It is named after a Salvadoran instrument juco, which makes a “xuc xuc” sound. Xuc music is typically performed in 2/4 time and has its own distinctive rhythm dance.

Xuc segment:
El Xuc // Orquestra Internacional Polio

Zafacaite comes from the North in a city called Chalatenango. The name comes from zafa, from zafar (to loosen) and caite (shoes). This refers to the fast and intricate foot dancing pattern that sometimes causes shoes to fly off. 

Zafacaite segment:
El Levanta Polvo // Jhosse Lora
Chamorrito “La Zafacaite” (Composed by Maria Barratta, famous Salvadoran composer and ethnomusicologist)

American/British pop and rock influence in the 1960s and 70s created an “Epoca de Oro” (Golden age) of music in a genre called “Guanarock.” This comes from the slang term Guanaco, which Salvadorans use to refer to themselves. It means “brother” in Poton Lanca, an indigenous language. 

Guanarock segment:
El Bardo // Hielo Ardiente
Se me olvidara // Los Supersonicos

A2Bandas (2) | Debil Estar y Omnionn + Voltar – La Radio Tomada

Debil Estar on his radio show

The 90s saw a continuation of popular music that blended global styles with Salvadoran rythyms. Pescozada was a hip hop group founded in 1998 in Chalatenango. Debil Estar, one of the members, has a hip hop radio show on Salvadoran station YXY 105.7 FM!

90s Segment:
Telarañas en la Mente // Rucks Parker
Dias Oscuros // Pescozada, Triple Homicidio

Modern Segment:
Ultramar // Conjunto Tropidélico
Technicolor // Gaby Nieto, Ricardo Bendek, Naomy Diaz
Abajo del agua // Nativa Geranio

continental drift 1/25/23: norway

grapTouching down at the Oslo airport, we are drifting to Norway! Listen to the playlist here, and listen back to the episode here.

The Kingdom of Norway makes up the northwest part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. With a population of 5.5 million, it comes in at the 118th most populated country in the world. The country has the fourth highest per capita income in the world, and has ranked first on the World Happiness Report before (remember Finland and New Zealand?)

The official languages of Norway are Norwegian and the uralic language Sámi. Notably, Norwegian has been described as the easiest language to  learn for native English speakers. It is mutually intelligible between Swedish and Finnish. 

Hardanger Fiddle | Helland, K. E. | V&A Explore The Collections

Hardanger Fiddle

The most typical folk instrument is the Hardanger fiddle, which looks and plays like an ordinary fiddle but is engineered so that a performer plays on two strings most of the time.  

Bygdedans is a type of Norwegian folk music played especially for “courting dances.” It’s a dance music,  very social, often performed by couples.  

A note: I focused on North Germanic folk music for this episode, but the uralic Sami people absolutely have a rich tradition! Their main folk style, joik, was featured in the Finland episode. 

Bygdedans sample:
Sigdalspringar: Springar (Etter Ola Hiåsen) // Steinar Strøm

Violinist Ole Bull's Desperate Gamble : Interlude

Ole Bull

One of the first classical composers to come out of Norway was Georg von Bertouch. He was a juris doctorate, a military officer, and famous composer. He is most well known for composing 24 sonatas, in each of the 24 keys. Only 16 survive. 

Ole Bull is cited as “the first major Norwegian musician.” He was born February 5th 1810, and is credited as bringing traditional Norwegian music to public classical consciousness. He led an interesting life that included playing first violin in the orchestra of Bergen at age nine, pretending to study law in Germany, and becoming a leader in Norwegian romantic nationalism. He was a violinist and composer. 

After the French Revolution in 1848, Norway experienced economic growth coinciding with a boom in music. Female musicians were widely accepted, even so far as being published and given stipends by the state.  Thus started the “golden age” of Norwegian classical, led by Christian Sinding and Johan Halvorsen.  

Classical segment:
Trio Sonata No. 8 in G Major // Georg von Bertouch, Bergen Baroqu
Passacaglia for Violin and Viola // Johan Halvorsen, Davide Algona, Jose Adolfo Alejo
Gjendines Bånlåt // Pernille Anker
Margaret’s Waltz // Aly Bain, Tellef Kvifte, Leiv Solberg, Henning Sommerro

Annbjørg Lien is “controversial.” She blends classical and Norwegian traditional, which leads some to criticize her for having a “lack of regional tradition” or “watering down folk music.” She received her PhD in Hardingfele in 2019 from University of Agder, but has no other formal education. She is also part of the band Bukken Bruse (translation: billy goats gruff), which was the official band of the 1994 winter olympics in lillehammer. In addition, she plays in String Sisters, which featured strings players from 6 countries. 

Gluggjen // Annbjørg Lien

The first recorded emergence of a saxophone in Norway was 1923. In the 1930s there was a recession, so less jazz, but it found its way again in the 1940s, when the Norwegians found a way to sneak in the violin into the genre. Post world war two there was a greater shift towards French, American, and British styles. Including jazz! In recent years, jazz has taken off, centered in Oslo. 

Jazz segment:
Hole In the Wall // Henry Purcell, Bjarte Eike, Barokksolistene
Flipper the Bush Kangaroo // The Brazz Brothers
On the Horizon, Part 2 // Hedvig Mollestad, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra

Black metal is definitely popular, consistent with the metal traditions of the rest of the Scandinavian peninsula. Mayhem, a popular band, was also the center of a cult, and were known to be very extreme.  They encouraged violence against churches, and a bandmate even killed another. I think we focused on enough metal in Finland, so I didn’t include any here. (Listen to Wrekage for more haha). 

Susanne Sundfør, Debaser Hornstulls Strand (Stockholm) - ROCKFOTO.NU

Susanne Sundfør

Popular Norwegian pop artists include A-ha, Aurora, Girl in Red, Kings of Convenience, and Sigrid. Of course, this is WREK, so we’ll focus on the underground. 

Popular music segment:
Fotspor // Holm CPU
Fade Away // Susanne Sundfør
Icarus // Mandalai Lamas
I’m On Top // Otha
Love You Like That // Dagny

continental drift 1/18/23: mauritania

This week we are drifting (in a continental fashion) to Mauritania! Find the playlist here, and listen back to the episode here.

The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is a country in Northwest Africa, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Western Sahara, Algeria, Mali, and Senegal. The name Mauritania is derived from the dominant ethnic group, the Moors. Its official language is Arabic, though pulaar, soninke, wolof, and french are also officially recognized. Its signed language is Francophone African Sign LanguageSince independence from France in 1960, Mauritania has been culturally, linguistically, and politically part of the Arab world; they belong to the Arab League and the official religion is Islam. 

Moorish music can be roughly divided into ‘folk’ music and ‘classical’ music. Folk music includes lullabies, work songs, game songs, courting songs, shepherd songs, and religious praise ‘songs’, and the classical music is of the Iggawen, or griots. The music industry in Mauritania is limited: the first professional studio opened in 2003, and they are only now starting to develop a nightlife where popular music is played.

Tidinit - N´Goni (instrumento musical) - EcuRed

The tidinit

Jakwar is a style of dance music that was created in 1976 by Jheich ould Abba, a blind musician from Atar in Northern Mauritania. It was named after the fast French fighter jets, “Jaguar,” that often flew over northern Mauritania during the Saharan war.  It was made by amplifying the tidinit, a traditional 5-string lute. 

Jakwar sample:
“Guera” // Idoumou ould Jheich ould Abba (surge of wedding)

Iggawen started playing Jakwar on the electric guitar instead of the tidinit, and Hammadi ould Nana is credited as the first to do so. Hammadi learned tidinit from his father and was also influenced by his paternal grandmother, who led a group of three female singers. Hammadi was trained on the traditional tidinit music but was more interested in the Haratin folk music. 

The music of Mauritania, Part One. « Music Time in Africa

Hammadi ould Nana

In the late 1960s, one of his cousins had brought a guitar with him. When his cousin left Tidjikja several months later, the guitar did not leave with him. Over the next couple of years Hammadi started to develop a unique repertoire of guitar melodies; a repertoire that both conformed to the strict modal structures of Moorish music, and drew on Haratin folk rhythms. Running his acoustic guitar through a radio amplifier, and accompanied by his sister, several percussionists, and a chorus of female singers, Hammadi was starting to develop the sound that would make his name. When he was gifted an electric guitar, his distinctive style took form. 

Electric jakwar sample:
Hammadi ould Nana, live recording July 2000

This next recording features two young sisters, Hudho mint Abba (16 years old) and Guine mint Abba (14 years old), accompanied by their mother Mukhtara mint Nana on Ardin, an eleven string harp, and their cousin Idoumou ould Jheich ould Abba on Tidinit. This recording was made in a “small blue-walled room at 11 pm.”

Small Blue Walled Segment:
Hudho mint Abba, Guine mint Abba, Mukhtara mina Nana, & Idoumou ould Abbba

Between Tradition And Taboo: The Music Of Malouma


Female musicians are considered rare in Mauritania, though, paradoxically, the most popular musicians are often female. Dimi Mint Abba is known for her ‘salon music.’ Both of her parents were musicians, and her father was commissioned to compose the national anthem.

Malouma is a singer, politician, and activist. She’s been exiled from Mauritania (and since let back in) for her views on women’s rights and caste inequality. She’s earned the recognition of Knight of the Legion of Honor from France for her activism.

Female musician segment:
Hassaniya Song for Dancing // Khalifa Ould Eide, Dimi Mint Abba
Biyé // Ooleya Mint Amartichitt
Yarab // Malouma 
Ghlana // Noura Mint Seymali

The Orchestre National De Mauritanie was created in 1968 following independence from France, but they were shut down in 1975 after a military coup overthrew the Daddah regime. All of their recordings were nearly destroyed in the coup when the radio archive was looted by loyal military forces. During the chaos, one heroic radio engineer snuck into the archives and salvaged the reels of the music which were sequestered in his home for the past decades.

Orchestre segment:
Mauritanie Mon Pays, Que J’aime (Mauritania My Country, Which I Love) // Orchestre National de Mauritanie
La Mone (The Monk) // Orchestre National de Mauritanie

Modern Music segment:
Kar // Ahmedou Ahmed Lowl
Zina // Babylone

continental drift 1/11/23: cambodia

Continental Drift is finally back after what seems like ages (2 weeks). This week we are dusting off the engines and drifting to Cambodia. Find the playlist here, and listen back to the episode here.

The Kingdom of Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia located in the Indochinese peninsula. It has a population of 17 million, making it the 71st most populated in the world, and 97% of Cambodians practice Buddhism. Its official language is Khmer.

Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate, featuring two seasons each year (wet from May to September and dry from October to April). At the end of the wet season each year, as the Mekong River sinks back to normal levels, the Tonle Sap River reverses its flow. Bon Om Touk, the Cambodian Water & Moon Festival, is an annual boat rowing contest and the most attended Cambodian national festival. It features games, thanksgivings to the moon, fireworks, feasts, and the boat race on the reversed river. 

Traditional Cambodian music comes in 3 forms: pinpeat, phleng kar, and mahori. A pinpeat orchestra contains a ching, roneat, pai au, sralai, chapey, gong, tro, and various kinds of drums, and is sometimes accompanied by pinpeat dance. 

Pinpeat sample:
Sathouka // The Pinpeat Orchestra

Mahori is made for noblemen, contrasting with the pinpeat music for dieties. Mahori seeks to “soothe their souls,” and consequently takes on a softer sound. Common instruments include  khloy flute, krapeu, tro chhé, tro sor and Tro Ou stringed instruments, and roneat ek xylophone, roneat thong metallophone, skor romonea drums and chhing finger cymbals.

Mahori sample:
Laang Preah Poun Leah // The Mahori Orchestra

The very distinctive rock and roll of Cambodia which was produced in the late 50s, the 1960s and 70s. 

នរោត្តម សីហនុ Albums: songs, discography, biography, and listening guide -  Rate Your Music

Music of the prince

In the 50s, music was celebrated in the country. The prince Norodom Sihanouk was a singer himself, often performing on TV and releasing albums of his work. Norodom Sihanouk took over the country following independence from France in 1953. At this time, records from France, Cuba, and South America were making their way into Cambodian record stores, and it wasn’t long before Cambodian popular artists began to emerge, mixing these styles with traditional singing styles. 

The “father of popular music in Cambodia,” as proclaimed by musicologist Sam Ang Sam, was former medical student Sin Sisamouth. For a long time, he dominated the airwaves. People without radios would park their bikes outside the radio stations after work and listen as his music was broadcast on speakers outside the station. 

Stream Fearful ភ័យ ភ័យ ភ័យ Ros Serey Sothea by Sinn Sisamouth | Listen  online for free on SoundCloud

Ros Serey Sothea and Sinn Sisamouth

Ros Serey Sothea worked closely with Sinn Sisamouth, even collaborating with him on dozens of records. Born a rice planter, she took her one shot and moved to Phnom Penh as a teenager, where she was recognized for her singing talent. Her career shot off from there.  

The Vietnam war was raging right on Cambodia’s border, though Cambodia was determined to stay neutral. American soliders influenced the music scene of Cambodia through their radio, which exposed the Cambodian people to American rock and roll. One of the first “guitar bands” in the country was Baksey Cham Krong, created in the late 50s and made up of teenage brothers and friends. Whereas Sinn Sisamouth was popular with adults, guitar music became the music of young people. 

Now we move on to the 1970s. Early in the 1970s a US-aligned group took over the government, ousting Norodom Sihanouk from power. Sinn Sisamouth, Ros Serey Sothea, etc remained popular, but “hippie” acts began to emerge with long hair and looser styles. None were more famous than Yol Aularong. Working closely with him, sometimes performing in his band, was Pan Rom. 

Cambodian Rock & Roll/Psych Rock Segment:
Stingy Cheeks // Sinn Sisamouth,
Khmer folk songs – Srey No (Lady Name No) Original recording
Shave Your Beard // Ros Serey Sothea
BCK // Baksey Cham Krong
Console Me // Sieng Vannthy
Youm Os Tirk Pnake // Pov Vannary
Cyclo // Yol Aularong
Pha em nas sneh (Love Is So Sweet) // Pan Rom
Crazy Loving You // Drakkar

Unfortunately, the music history of Cambodia isn’t a pretty one. Cambodia couldn’t stay neutral forever as war waged on its borders. The US bombed rural Cambodia in hopes of inciting them to action, but it ended up backfiring as rural Cambodians sided with the Khmer Rouge, a communist group backed by China. What sealed the deal for Khmer Rouge was former prince Norodom Sihanouk backing them after China promised they’d subsequently ally with Cambodia. The US pulled out support from the country and a civil war broke out, Cambodians fighting each other. 

Don't Think I've Forgotten - WikipediaThe documentary Don’t Think I’ve Forgottenwhich chronicles the “lost rock & roll” of Cambodia, describes:

“After taking over the country on April 17, 1975, the Khmer Rouge began wiping out all traces of modernity and Western influence. Intellectuals, artists and musicians were specifically and systematically targeted and eliminated. Thus began one of the most brutal genocides in history, killing an estimated two million people – a quarter of the Cambodian population.”

As a result, 90% of musicians perished, and Cambodia has had to completely rebuild its arts scene. Players of traditional instruments are designated by the government as essential people in hopes that they will inspire and teach others to take up these styles. While the country is undergoing repair, new bands have emerged to continue on the Cambodian rock and roll tradition that was so strong before.

Revival segment:
(01) Dengue Fever – Both Sides Now   (Joni Mitchell cover)
I’m Unsatisfied // The Cambodian Space Project

continental drift 12/21/22- greece

Listen to the playlist here, and listen back to this episode here.

Today we drifted to the idyllic locale of Greece, known officially as the Hellenic Republic. It is located in the southern part of the balkans peninsula in southern Europe on the mediterranean basin. Greece was the origin of not only democracy but also western philosophy, literature, theater, and the Olympics. Because its history goes back to the 8th century BC, and its history is relatively well recorded, its folk music is rich. 

Rebetiko was the defining sound of 20th century Greece, and remains a popular folk music style. The Lausanne Treaty in 1923, intended to end a WWI border dispute, moved approximately 1.5 million Christians of Turkish citizenship to Greece. There they continued to spread eastern influence to the Turkish sound. 

Though Greece is the “birthplace of Western civilization”, you’ll hear today that a lot of its music is heavily Eastern-influenced. This is because Greece was under Ottoman rule for a good bit of its history, as well as because of its positioning around countries like Turkey and Albania that have influenced its music and culture over the years.

Rebetiko sample:
Ximeronei Kai Vradiazei // Vassilis Tsitsanis ((translation: dawn and dusk))

Dimotiká, or folk music, has lyrics influenced by poetry and often features instruments like laoutos and lyras. Nikos Saragoudas was a popular greek composer who drew inspiration from both folk and classical traditions. 

Dimotika sample:
San pas sta ksena // Nikos Saragoudas

Laiko is what followed after the commercialization of rebetiko music. Though translated Laïko means “popular song” or “song of the people”, it is less pop music and more modern greek folk music. Marinella was a popular classic Laiko singer in the 70s and 80s and has released 66 solo albums

Laïko sample:
Na Paizei To Tranzistor // Marinella

The Greek label Teranga Beat blends traditional sounds with electronic music

One band signed to the label, Evritiki Zygia, plays thracian music. According to their bandcamp album description, “The distinctively psychedelic element of Thracian music was enhanced with the introduction of the CRB-Diamond 800 organ and the Moog, giving the whole project a hybrid sound with a unique identity.” The album was recorded on an analog 24-track tape Otari MX80 and in two sessions that took place on May 18 and 19 2019. It is a live recording that captures the energy of the group’s live performances.”

Greek Fusion Orchestra was a group who played together on radio in 1973. Adamantios Kafetzis, the label creator, says of the group: “It started as a program on the radio to create a jazz fusion progressive orchestra playing traditional music tracks. Every week, they would have to produce 30 minutes of music. He [Kyriakos Sfetsas] would go and find old music in books, and bring it to the musicians just before the show started, and they would only have a small rehearsal before going on air.” 

Terranga Beat segment:
Karsilamas //  Evritiki Zygia
Morning Expectations // Greek Fusion Orchestra

Pop/Indie Segment:
Moro Mou Sss // Elli Kokkinou
Koktela // Nalyssa Green (a theremin player!)
The Race // Σtella
Don Quixote (death was a letter never sent) // Kid Flicks
Lucy // Plastic Flowers
We Need Some Space // Baby Guru

Cinematic Beats/Trip Hop Segment:
Spice Lahore // Moderator
Besima // Mononome