World music

World music (also called global music or international music)[1] is a Western musical category encompassing many different styles of music from other parts of the globe. It includes many forms of music that Westerners consider ethnic, indigenous music, folk music, neotraditional music, and music where more than one cultural tradition, such as non-Western music and Western popular music, intermingle.

World music's inclusive nature and elasticity as a musical category may pose for some obstacles to a universal definition, but its ethic of interest in the culturally exotic is encapsulated in fRoots magazine's description of the genre as "local music from out there".[2]

The term was popularized in the 1980s as a marketing category for non-Western traditional music.[3][4] It has grown to include subgenres such as ethnic fusion (Clannad, Ry Cooder, Enya, etc.)[5] and worldbeat.[6][7]

Terminology

The term has been credited to ethnomusicologist Robert E. Brown, who coined it in the early 1960s at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where he developed undergraduate through doctoral programs in the discipline. To enhance the learning process (John Hill), he invited more than a dozen visiting performers from Africa and Asia and began a world music concert series.[8][9] The term became current in the 1980s as a marketing/classificatory device in the media and the music industry.[10] There are several conflicting definitions for world music. One is that it consists of "all the music in the world", though such a broad definition renders the term virtually meaningless.[11][12]

The term also is taken as a classification of music that combines Western popular music styles with one of many genres of non-Western music that are also described as folk music or ethnic music. However, world music is not exclusively traditional folk music. It may include cutting edge pop music styles as well. Succinctly, it can be described as "local music from out there",[13] or "someone else's local music".[14] It is a very nebulous term with an increasing number of genres that fall under the umbrella of world music to capture musical trends of combined ethnic style and texture, including Western elements (examples noted in this section).

World music may incorporate distinctive non-Western scales, modes and/or musical inflections, and often features distinctive traditional ethnic instruments, such as the kora (West African harp), the steel drum, the sitar or the didgeridoo.[15]

Music from around the world exerts wide cross-cultural influence as styles naturally influence one another, and in recent years world music has also been marketed as a successful genre in itself. Academic study of world music, as well as the musical genres and individual artists associated with it appear in such disciplines as anthropology, folkloristics, performance studies and ethnomusicology.

Evolving terminology

Anda Union at a music festival

In the age of digital music production the increased availability of high-quality, ethnic music samples, sound bites and loops from every known region are commonly used in commercial music production, which has exposed a vast spectrum of indigenous music texture to developing, independent artists.

An amalgamation of roots music in the global, contemporary listening palette has become apparent, which weakens the role major entertainment labels such as Columbia, Warner, MCA and EMI can play in the cultural perception of genre boundaries.

Similar terminology between distinctly different sub-categories under primary music genres, such as world, rock and pop, can be as ambiguous and confusing to industry moguls as it is to consumers. As Damian Burns writes, this is especially true in the context of world music, where branches of ethnically influenced pop trends are as genre-defined by consumer perception as they are by the music industry forums that govern the basis for categorical distinction. Academic scholars tend to agree that, in today's world of consumer music reviews and blogging, global music culture's public perception is what ultimately distils a prevailing basis for definition from genre ambiguity, regardless of how clearly a category has been outlined by corporate marketing forums and music journalism. The world music genre's gradual migration from a clear spectrum of roots music traditions to an extended list of hybrid subgenres is a good example of the motion genre boundaries can exhibit in a globalizing pop culture.

The classic, original definition of world music was in part created to instill a perceived authenticity and distinction between indigenous music traditions and those that eventually become diluted by pop culture, and the modern debate over how possible it is to maintain that perception in the richly diverse genre of world music is ongoing.[16][17]

In a report on the 2014 globalFEST, National Public Radio's Anastasia Tsioulcas said, "Even within the 'world music' community, nobody likes the term 'world music'. It smacks of all kinds of loaded issues, from cultural colonialism to questions about what's "authentic" and what isn't (and who might get to police such inquiries), and forces an incredible array of styles that don't have anything in common under the label of "exotic Other." What's more: I believe that in many people's imaginations, "world music" means a kind of fairly awful, gloppy, hippy-ish, worldbeat fusion. It's a problematic, horrible term that satisfies absolutely no one."[18]

Other Languages
brezhoneg: World music
català: World music
čeština: World music
Deutsch: Weltmusik
Esperanto: Mondmuziko
galego: World music
한국어: 월드 뮤직
Bahasa Indonesia: Musik dunia
italiano: World music
magyar: Világzene
Nāhuatl: World Music
Nederlands: Wereldmuziek
norsk nynorsk: Verdsmusikk
polski: World music
português: Música do Mundo
română: World music
Seeltersk: Waareldmusik
Simple English: World music
slovenčina: World music
српски / srpski: Етно музика
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Етно музика
svenska: Världsmusik
Türkçe: Dünya müziği
українська: Етнічна музика
Tiếng Việt: Nhạc thế giới
粵語: 世界音樂
中文: 世界音乐