World Music – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Musical Genres Glossary

I. What is World Music?

World music is a genre that encompasses a wide variety of musical styles and traditions from around the globe. It is a term used to describe music that is rooted in a particular culture or region, and often incorporates traditional instruments, rhythms, and melodies. World music can include everything from traditional folk songs to modern fusion genres that blend elements from different cultures.

II. Origins and History of World Music

The concept of world music as a genre emerged in the 1980s, as a way to categorize and promote non-Western music in Western markets. Prior to this, music from different cultures was often labeled as “ethnic” or “traditional,” and was not widely recognized or appreciated outside of its native context.

World music draws on a rich history of musical traditions from around the world, including African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, and European influences. These diverse traditions have been passed down through generations, and continue to evolve and adapt to new influences and technologies.

III. Characteristics of World Music

One of the defining characteristics of world music is its emphasis on cultural authenticity and tradition. Many world music artists draw on their cultural heritage to create music that reflects their roots and identity. This can include using traditional instruments, singing in native languages, and incorporating folk melodies and rhythms.

World music also often features a strong sense of community and connection, with many artists collaborating with musicians from different cultures to create unique and innovative sounds. This spirit of collaboration and cross-cultural exchange is a key aspect of world music, and has led to the development of new genres and styles that blend elements from different traditions.

IV. Instruments Used in World Music

World music is known for its diverse range of instruments, many of which are unique to specific cultures and regions. Some common instruments used in world music include the tabla (an Indian drum), the kora (a West African harp), the duduk (an Armenian wind instrument), and the didgeridoo (an Australian Aboriginal instrument).

In addition to traditional instruments, world music artists often incorporate modern instruments such as guitars, keyboards, and synthesizers into their music, creating a fusion of traditional and contemporary sounds. This blending of old and new instruments is a hallmark of world music, and contributes to its rich and diverse sound.

V. Popular World Music Artists and Bands

There are many talented world music artists and bands who have gained international recognition for their unique and innovative music. Some popular world music artists include Fela Kuti (Nigeria), Ali Farka Toure (Mali), Buena Vista Social Club (Cuba), and Ravi Shankar (India).

In recent years, world music has become increasingly popular in mainstream music markets, with artists such as Shakira, Manu Chao, and Angelique Kidjo incorporating world music influences into their music. These artists have helped to bring world music to a wider audience, and have introduced new audiences to the rich and diverse sounds of different cultures.

VI. Impact and Influence of World Music

World music has had a significant impact on the global music industry, influencing a wide range of genres and styles. Its emphasis on cultural diversity and authenticity has inspired artists from around the world to explore new sounds and experiment with different musical traditions.

In addition to its musical influence, world music has also played a role in promoting cultural understanding and appreciation. By bringing together artists from different cultures and backgrounds, world music has helped to break down barriers and foster a sense of unity and connection among people from diverse backgrounds.

Overall, world music is a vibrant and dynamic genre that continues to evolve and grow, drawing on a rich tapestry of musical traditions from around the world. Its influence can be seen and heard in a wide range of musical genres, and its message of unity and diversity continues to resonate with audiences around the globe.