What is fusion music? Well, you don’t have to be an atomic scientist to understand fusion music. Let’s look at a basic definition of fusion; ‘the union of different things by or as if by melting; blending; coalition.’ This definition is from the New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition. So, in music, different musical elements, often from different musical genres are put together. Here are some examples of fusion music;
- Reggae Rock
- Rap Rock
- Jazz Fusion
- Gypsy Punk
- Gypsie Jazz
- Folk Metal
- Folk Punk
- Celtic Punk
- Country Rap
From most of these titles, you can see what genre has been mixed with what other genre; ‘Country Rap’ is obviously Country Music mixed with Rap Music and ‘Folk Punk’ is Folk Music mixed with Punk Music. This is only a partial list, of course, since the combinations are pretty much unlimited. Being of Germanic heritage, I have attended a number of Oktoberfests and heard ‘Umpah Bands’ playing rock songs. One of the more successful types of fusion music is Country Rock.
Another term applied to fusion music is ‘cross-over.’ You have probably heard the term ‘Cross-Over Hit,’ referring to a song that captured the attention of listeners in different genres of music. Fusion music often originates from the desire of a band to reach a broader audience but it can also come from the effort to establish a unique or new sound.
Most musical artists who have stood out have had a unique sound of their own and this is actually the end product of this fusion process we are talking about. Whereas some fusion efforts are very obvious, that is to say they have combined a very identifiable musical element with another very identifiable musical element, some fusion processes are much more subtle and involve a larger number of musical elements.
To illustrate this point, I will share a short story of when I heard a lecture by the late, great author Ray Bradbury. He knew that he was addressing an audience of young writers and he said, quite simply, if you want to be a writer, you just read and read and read and it starts coming back out. Somehow, I understood just what he was saying which was that, in being a writer, you don’t shut yourself off in an ivory tower but you get as much exposure as possible to the writings of other authors and then this starts to come across in a mix that reflects your own personality.
You can take just about any great musical artist and trace his personal favorite musical artists in his music. In Beethoven, for example, we can find Mozart, Haydn, Handle and Bach, not ripped off verbatim, but present stylistically in the mix that is uniquely Beethoven. When we really look, we see that no musical genre has popped out of the blue but is a product what is fusion music.