Ludicrous Orientalism in marketing :(

Apart from the long issue with the term “ethnic” in music to generalise anything non-Western into one clump (are white ethnic groups not also ethnicities? Damn exceptionalism.), this is just ridiculous. 1/3th of the world’s population are not “ethnic”, but that’s what China and India have been lumped into by this marketing.

If we forgive the use of the term “far east” to invoke a sense of exoticism and abnormality, since when is India the “far east”? Here I thought that mostly describes China, Japan, and Korea as a region, but apparently India and China are the same now.

I notice that in the screenshot of the UI, there is also reference to an “Ethnic Minor” and “Ethnic Major” scale, as if every non-Western ethnic group share one characteristic scale. I hope I don’t have to explain why this is a problem of cultural exceptionalism, as well as failing to musically identify the scale in a useful way even in the context of 18C Western classical diatonic scales.

Honestly I wanted to file a private complaint with Steinberg about the marketing, but there doesn’t appear to be any channel to do so, so a forum post it is.


These are excellent points.


The problem is also not too difficult to fix:

  1. Label the music “Indian & Chinese” instead of “Ethnic”. Where appropriate for the samples, identify which of the two is relevant. You can do even better than this with some homework, and identify which culture in the country the music is from, because the meaning of “Indian” as a cultural designator is about as specific as “European”. Also resist the urge to describe anything as “exotic”.
  2. Don’t use the term “Far East”. Don’t say “takes you to”, say “inspired by”, unless it’s performed by people from the relevant culture, in which case you might write “from”.
  3. Identify the scale more precisely, please. Is it a harmonic minor? A double harmonic major? A different scale? Non-diatonic? All the current description says is “I guess these people have just identified something that’s not a mode of the Western major scale”.
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Why do people keep putting scales in plug-ins when a) the scale does not function as a “scale”. b) the “scale” is not in 12TET.

Overheard at a local jam session in the USA:

Musician from the “Orient”: “Gotta learn how to play that awesome ethnic music you guys are doing! Wow! What is it?”

Fiddler: “Bluegrass.”

Charming sounds from far away are enticing, but the work of learning cultures is work.


Ha! I’d be that guy!

True words.

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