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World music is the traditional music or folk music of a culture that is created and played by indigenous musicians that is closely related to the music of the regions of their origin.

Terminology

The term has been credited to ethnomusicologist Robert E. Brown who coined it in the 1960s.The term became current in the 1980s as a marketing/classificatory device in the media and the music industry, and it is generally used to classify any kind of non-Western music.

In musical terms, World Music can be roughly defined as music that uses distinctive ethnic scales, modes and musical inflections, and which is usually (though not always) performed on or accompanied by distinctive traditional ethnic instruments, such as the kora (West African harp), the steel drum, the sitar or the didgeridoo.

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 word virtually meaningless. 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 were previously described as folk music or ethnic music. However, World Music is not exclusively traditional folk music. It may refer to the indigenous classical forms of various regions of the world, and to modern, cutting edge pop music styles as well. Succinctly, it can be described as "local music from out there", or "someone else's local music".

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 with which it has been associated, can be found in such disciplines as anthropology, Folkloristics, Performance Studies and Ethnomusicology.

Examples

Examples of popular forms of World Music include the various forms of non-European classical music (e.g. Japanese koto music, Indian raga music, Tibetan chants), eastern European folk music (e.g. the village music of the Balkans) and the many forms of folk and tribal music of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Central and South America. The Breton musician Alan Stivell pioneered the connection between traditional folk music, modern rock music and world music with his 1970's album Renaissance of the Celtic Harp.

The broad category of World Music includes isolated forms of ethnic music from diverse geographical regions. These dissimilar strains of ethnic music are commonly categorized together by virtue of their indigenous roots. Over the 20th century, the invention of sound recording, low-cost international air travel and common access to global communication among artists and the general public has given rise to a related phenomenon called "cross-over" music. Musicians from diverse cultures and locations could readily access recorded music from around the world, see and hear visiting musicians from other cultures and visit other countries to play their own music, creating a melting pot of stylistic influences.

While communication technology allows greater access to obscure forms of music, the pressures of commercialization also present the risk of increasing musical homogeny, the blurring of regional identities, and the gradual extinction of traditional local music-making practices.

Popular non-Western genres

Although it primarily describes traditional music, the World Music category also includes popular music from non-Western urban communities (e.g. South African "township" music) and non-European music forms that have been influenced by other so-called third-world musics (e.g. Afro-Cuban music), although Western-style popular song sourced from non-English-speaking countries in Western Europe (e.g. French pop music) would not generally be considered World Music.

Paris is one of the great European capitals for World Music. For many years, the city has attracted numerous musicians from former colonies in West Africa and North Africa. This thriving scene is aided by the fact that there are many concerts and institutions that help promote the music.

Algerian and Moroccan music have an important presence in the French capital. Hundreds of thousands of Algerian and Moroccan immigrants have settled in Paris, bringing the sounds of Amazigh (Berber), raï, and Gnawa music. Algerian raï also found a large French audience, especially Cheb Mami.

The West African community is also very large, integrated by people from Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, and Guinea. They have introduced manding jeli music, mbalax and other styles.

After 1987: WOMAD and beyond

The origins of the term World Music (in relation to the selling of this type of music) began in 1982 when World Music Day (Fête de la Musique) was initiated in France. World Music Day has been celebrated on 21 June every year since then. On Monday 29 June 1987 a meeting of interested parties gathered to capitalise on the marketing of this genre. Arguably popular interest was sparked with the release in 1986 of Paul Simon's Graceland album. The concept behind the album was to express his own sensibilities using the sounds he had fallen in love with while listening to artists from Southern Africa, including Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Savuka. This project and the work of Peter Gabriel and Johnny Clegg among others had, to some degree, introduced non-western music to a wider audience. This was an opportunity which could not be ignored.

Before 1987, World Music had a following but it was still difficult for interested parties to sell their music to the larger music stores. Although specialist music stores had been important in developing the genre over many years, the record companies, broadcasters and journalists had been finding it difficult to build a following because the music, itself, seemed too scarce. However, they were aware that the Jazz and Classic markets had developed a cross-over audience and decided that the best way forward would be to have a collective strategy in order to bring the music to a wider audience.

1987 meeting

At the outset of the 1987 meeting, the musician, Roger Armstrong, advised the reason why something needed to be done;
:"(He) felt that the main problem in selling our kind of material lay with the UK retail outlets and, specifically, the
:fact that they did not know how to rack it coherently. This discouraged (the retail stores) from stocking the material
:in any depth and made it more difficult for the record buyers to become acquainted with our catalogues."


The first concern of the meetings was to select the umbrella name that this 'new' music would be listed under. Suggestions included 'World Beat' and prefixing words such as 'Hot' or 'Tropical' to existing genre titles, but 'World Music' won after a show of hands, but initially it was not meant to be the title for a whole new genre, rather something which all of the record labels could place on the sleeves of records in order to distinguish them during the forthcoming campaign. It only became a title for the genre after an agreement that despite the publicity campaign, this wasn't an exclusive club and that for the good of all, any label which was selling this type of music would be able to take advantage.

Another issue which needed to be addressed was the distribution methods which existed at the time. Most of the main labels were unhappy with the lack of specialist knowledge displayed by sales persons which led to poor service; there was also a reluctance amongst many of the larger outlets to carry the music, because they understandably liked larger releases which could be promoted within store. It was difficult to justify a large presentation expense if the stock going into stores was limited.

Marketing

One of the marketing strategies used in the vinyl market at the time was the use of browser cards, which would appear in the record racks. As part of the World Music campaign it was decided that these would be a two colour affair designed to carry a special offer package; to aid the retailer a selection of labels would also be included

In an unprecedented move, all of the World Music labels co-ordinated together and developed a compilation cassette for the cover of the music magazine NME. The overall running time was ninety minutes, each package containing a mini-catalogue showing the other releases on offer. This was a smart move as NME readers are often seen as discerning listeners and it was important step to get them on board.

By the time of a second meeting it was becoming clear that in order for the campaign to be successful, it should have its own dedicated press officer. The press officer would be able to juggle the various deadlines and also be able to sell the music as a concept to, not just the national stations, but also regional DJs who were keen to expand the variety of music they could offer. The DJ's were a key resource as it was important for 'World Music' to be seen as something which could be important to people outside London - most regions after all had a similarly rich folk heritage which could be tapped into. A cost effective way of achieving all this would be a leafleting campaign.

The next step was to develop a World Music chart, gathering together selling information from around fifty shops, so that it would finally be possible to see which were big sellers in the genre - allowing new listeners to see what was particularly popular. It was agreed that the NME could again be involved in printing the chart and also Music Week and the London listings magazine City Limits. It was also suggested that Andy Kershaw might be persuaded to do a run down of this chart on his show regularly.

World Music Month

October 1987 was designated 'World Music' month. A music festival, Crossing the Border was held at the Town & Country Club, London and it was the start of the winter season for both WOMAD and Arts Worldwide. The main press release stressed the issues inherent in the campaign.

Since the early Eighties the enthusiasm for music from 'outside' Western pop culture has been steadily mounting. More and more international artists, many of whom are big stars in their own countries, are coming to England on tour. They started off, like The Bhundu Boys, playing small clubs and pubs, but now many acts are so popular that they are filling larger venues.

The excitement and word-of-mouth appeal is backed up by radio. Examples of shows that feature World Music include World of Music on Voice of America, Transpacific Sound Paradise on WFMUmarker, The Planet on Australia's ABC Radio National, DJ Edu presenting D.N.A: DestiNation Africa on BBC Radio 1Xtra, Adil Ray on the BBC Asian Network, Andy Kershaw's show on BBC Radio 3 and Charlie Gillett's show on the BBC World Service.

Today

Today, mainstream music has adopted many of the features of World Music, and artists such as Shakira and the members of the Buena Vista Social Club have reached a much wider audience. At the same time World Music has been influenced by hip hop, pop and jazz. Even heavy metal bands such as Tool and Nile have incorporated world music into their own. Some entertainers who cross over to recording from film and television will often start with World music; Steven Seagal is a recent example.

World Music radio programs these days often play African hip hop or reggae artists, crossover Bhangra and Latin American jazz groups, etc. Public radio and webcasting are an important way for music enthusiasts all over the world to hear the enormous diversity of sounds and styles which, collectively, amount to World Music. The BBC, NPR, and ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporationmarker) are rich sources for World Music where it is possible to listen online as well as read about the artists and history of this genre.

Criticisms of the term

Some musicians and curators of music have come to dislike the term "World Music". To these critics, "World Music" is a parochial, catchall marketing term for non-western music of all genres. On October 3, 1999, David Byrne, the founder of the Luaka Bop music label, wrote an editorial in The New York Times entitled I Hate World Music explaining his objections to the term. Byrne argued that the labeling and categorization of other cultures as "exotic" serves to attract an insincere consumership and deter other potential consumers.

BBC Awards for World Music

World Music Awards CD's
World Music awards are awards presented by broadcasting organizations such as the BBC (see BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music) and others to world music artists. The BBC presents awards every year. The hosts for the Awards for World Music 2005 Poll Winners' Concert were Eliza Carthy and Benjamin Zephaniah.

In 2008, they were presented by Mary Ann Kennedy in Camden, London. The award winners are listed here: [5916]

Festivals

There are many World Music festivals and jazz/folk/roots/new age crossover events. A small selection is represented here:

France

2008 Line up: Anoushka Shankar, Sandhya Sanjana, Bhagyashree Mahe, Masaladosa

Germany



Spain

Spain has developed some interesting and amazing World Music festivals. The most important ones are:



Portugal

  • Festival Músicas do Mundo, in Sines, Setúbal region.


Ukraine

  • Svirzh World Music Festival (Lvivmarker region)


Notes

References

  • Bohlman, Philip (2002). World Music: A Very Short Introduction, "Preface". ISBN 0-19-285429-1.
  • Manuel, Peter (1988). Popular Musics of the Non-Western World: An Introductory Survey. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505342-7.
  • N'Dour, Youssou. "Foreword" to Nickson, Chris (2004). The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to World Music. ISBN 0-399-53032-0.
  • Nidel, Richard (2004). World Music: The Basics. ISBN 0-415-96801-1.
  • Sorce Keller, Marcello (1996). "Of Minority Musics, Preservation and Multiculturalism: Some Considerations". In Echo der Vielfalt: traditionelle Musik von Minderheiten/ethnischen Gruppen = Echoes of Diversity: Traditional Music of Ethnic Groups/Minorities, Schriften zur Volksmusik 16, edited by Ursula Hemetek and Emil H. Lubej, . Vienna, Cologne, and Weimar: Böhlau Verlag. ISBN 320598594X. Reprinted in Sonus 16, no. 2 (1998): 33- 41.


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