Item Details

From South to East: Exoticism in Polish popular music of the state socialist period

Issue: Vol 11 No. 1 (2016) Special Issue: Crossing national borders in Eastern European popular music

Journal: Popular Music History

Subject Areas: Popular Music

DOI: 10.1558/pomh.36188


This article considers cases when Polish popular music of the state socialist period drew on non-western motifs. It argues that initially the main source of inspiration was South America and its music; in the later period the Middle-East and India moved to the fore, which reflects a wider trend in Anglo-American pop-rock and testifies to the knowledge and experiences gained during travels undertaken by Polish musicians, especially to the eastern part of the Soviet Union. Appropriation of exotic motifs took different forms. In Estrada music of the 1950s and 1960s ‘banal exoticism’ prevailed, based on recycling touristy clichés; in the later periods rock musicians attempted to imitate and rework the sound of non-western musics and even live in tune with Oriental philosophy. There were also cases of playful and ironic appropriation of exotic themes. A special case is the work of Czesław Niemen, who was particularly open to non-western cultures. The piece is grounded in the study of Orientalism and tourism.

Author: Ewa Mazierska

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