Art, language, religion, food, philosophy and technology are swapped, traded and exchanged from one side of the world to the other. So it's obvious that music, sound and song must also enter the global melting pot.
Whether we know it or not, our listening habits are evolving and mutating as a result of our cultural collision with the so-called Third World. When social, economic and political boundaries shift and break down, cultural barricades follow. In fact, it's often music that first brings people together on an international scale, with politicians and businessmen obliged to follow.
Once, the catch-all term "World Music" was almost a scathing, belittling expression that had most pop fans sneering under their breath. Neither was it particularly helpful to group all global roots, folk and pop music from Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East together into one category. Initially a middle-class curiosity for those interested in "New Age" philosophy and utopian hippie ideals, now it's an undeniable part of cultural life across age, gender, class and creed.
Personally, I'm delighted to see non-western influences stepping more confidently into the pop and rock pantheon. Realistically, there are only so many times a band can plagiarise The Velvet Underground and Joy Division while donning obligatory sunglasses and black leather. A whole new generation of independent groups such as Vampire Weekend, TV On The Radio, Yeasayer and our own Bwani Junction have unashamedly boasted of their African inspiration.
Like many, I was raised on a diet of John Peel and Andy Kershaw BBC Radio programmes where they'd spin exotic sounds by Bhundu Boys, The Four Brothers, King Sunny Ade, Fela Kuti and Ali Farka Toure. These musicians helped shape the sound of their own continent, and made indelible inroads into our western psyche. At first, as a teenager listener, I was often confused and simply wanted something by The Fall or other hip, new guitar-slingers. I did, however, slowly learn to love these otherworldly melodies and rhythms.
It often helps when established and well-loved artists champion different forms of music. The Clash originally turned me on to reggae, before incorporating further global sounds into the mix. Joe Strummer continued to do this in his solo work before his untimely death. David Byrne is also renowned for tirelessly promoting ethnic music from various continents though his Luaka Bop label. And certain stadium-filling mega-stars have brought the sounds of Africa to the record collections of millions – look no further than Paul Simon's Graceland and Peter Gabriel's Biko, not to mention the latter's Real World studio and Womad festival.
If Africa is the birthplace of humankind, it only makes sense to investigate its traditions and customs. The same is happening there. In the 1960s and 1970s, Africa heard Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Funkadelic and other freaky emanations drifting across, and blended them with their own indigenous, sonic shapes. Listen to the astonishing Ethiopiques and Nigeria Special series for proof. Now hip-hop has exploded across that continent and artists are moulding it into their own Third World image.
Today in the west, contemporary music looks fractured and unfocused. There is no punk, hip-hop or acid house revolution taking place. Musicians take what they want from wherever they want, past or present, western and non-western. This can be extremely exciting and reminds me of the post-punk early 1980s when anything seemed possible. Looking back, that notorious instigator Malcolm McLaren infused Double Dutch with Soweto High-Life, and groove-meisters such as Rip, Rig And Panic and Pigbag wilfully pilfered from Afro-Beat. Many are doing exactly that now. Electronica, hip-hop and dubstep keep forging forward and incorporating different ethnic patterns and time-signatures. Anti-Pop star MIA has made a career out of it, picking up a huge international following as a result.
Whether discovering new sounds via Giles Peterson and Cerys Matthews on BBC 6Music, or digging in the crates for new compilations on the Soundway, Strut, Soul Jazz or Tru Thoughts labels, I couldn't live without a smattering of Cumbia, Bhangra or Township funk in my life. I'm not alone either. Magazines, podcasts, blogs and taste-makers of all description gush endlessly about Tuareg rockers Tinariwen, the Congotronics compilations or global mash-up pioneers The Very Best among others.
Possibly the most visible of all initiatives, with polymath Damon Albarn at the helm, is the collaborative rollercoaster Africa Express. Drawing into Glasgow's Arches on Tuesday is a hugely diverse line-up that includes in its ranks Amadou and Mariam, Carl Barat, Toumani Diabate, The Temper Trap, Baaba Maal, Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club, Tony Allen and Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Beginning with a trip to Mali in 2006, followed by three more trips to Africa and a series of acclaimed concerts in Britain, France, Spain and Nigeria, Africa Express now has a rotating cast of players and singers and a truly multi-cultural vision.
Although hardly a household name, its last major concert in 2010 attracted an audience of more than 50,000 for a five-hour show featuring more than 120 artists from Africa, Spain, Britain and the US. Clearly this is far more than a specialist, minority interest.
Thankfully, it seems that deep down we are actually yearning for something different in our musical diet. Those brave enough reap rewards from critics and fans alike. In my eyes, that makes the world a better place.
Africa Express is at The Arches, Glasgow on Tuesday. Vic Galloway presents on BBC Radio Scotland, 8.05pm-10pm Mondays (repeated Fridays 10pm–midnight), www.bbc.co.uk/radioscotland. Contact Vic at www.twitter.com/vicgalloway or check www.vicgalloway.com