Ethnic Music
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English ensembleEthnic music
Ethnic music is the music of different peoples. Every nation has its own musical culture, and the variety of folk music is very broad, offering an abundant richness of musical beauty and sophistication, derived from a culture and various social characteristics, but also from influences of the music of other nations. In the 20th century, and especially today, as the world becomes a "global village", acquaintance with the music of other peoples and its features is an essential experience for the man of the world and the so-called 'world musician'Israeli world music group 'Bustan Avraham' mix musical influences.
Most ethnic music is monophonic, and does not include harmony. Harmony is a product of European art-music. Many peoples did not use polyphony or harmony of chords. Ethnic music is usually heterophonic, and the accompaniment is rarely sophisticated. In the area of meter, it is a few times richer than western art-music, and the fact that it holds very little commitment to meter provides it with vitality and beauty. Particularly known is the music of the Balkans, with its lively complex meters, and Hindu music in which the "tala" (rhythm unit) sets rhythm, so much more compound than its western parallels.
Native African drummers - photograph courtesy of Dr. Jacob DafniFurthermore, folk music's melodic material is not based on Western major and minor keys or scales. Arab music, for example, is based on the "maqamat" (sing. - maqam), in which there are intervals of quarters of the whole tone, and Hindu music - on the "raga". The folk music of many nations focus on the pentatonic scale (a five-note scale), among which are the Chinese and some African peoples.
Many nations include a great deal of improvisation in their music. In contrast to the meticulous notation of art music, these peoples tend towards improvising and momentary performances. Oriental music uses a lot of ornaments and trills on the basic melody, and pays considerable respect to singers who ornament gracefully. Singing "haman haman..." and "yallal" in Arab poetry is for purposes of graceful ornamentation and trilling, that gain for the performer a deep impression and applauds.
The different instruments in every culture or country and the diverse playing techniques add another dimension to this musical varietyMongolian playersUkraine folk music ensemble. As early as in the 19th century, following the nationalist wave of the 1848 revolutions, composers explored their national folk music. Some of them even recorded it in orderly studies (Bartók and Kodály, to name two of them), and many others wrote under the inspiration of folk music.
World's nations sing and play fascinating music. The World Wide Web nowadays allows even people who do not travel to exotic countries to be exposed to their captivating sounds.

World music styles

The music of IndiaExample of the music of India
Indian playerThe musical tradition of India has two dominant strains: the Hindustani (North Indian school) and the very rigid Carnatic (South Indian music). Although these schools have a common philosophy and heritage, their ragas and articulation are usually distinctive. Indian musicians usually belong to a particular gharana (house) and each gharana has its unique traditions.
The raga, which is a sort of musical mode, forms the basis of the entire musical event. Each raga is said to have a specific mood and flavor, according to its specific season or hour of the day. The raga is essentially an aesthetic rendering of five, six or seven musical notes, with a tonic note (called shadja).
The tala is a rhythm or time cycle which underlies the creative aspects of the raga. It repeats itself after the completion of each cycle, and makes possible a lot of improvisations between beats and cycles. Nowadays, there are twenty talas in common use.
The Indian classical music tradition as a whole is a form of meditation and worship, with musical instruments such as the sitar, sarod and the tabla.
Famous artists: Pandit Ravi Shankar, Zakir Hussain

The Flamenco of SpainExample of the Spanish Flamenco
A style of Spanish Gypsy guitar music with singing and dancing. Originating in Andalusia, were music was influenced by the musical cultures of nomadic Gypsies, Sephardic Jewish settlers, Mediterranean traders, and the Arabs and Berbers, also known as Moors. By the early 19th century, Flamenco was mainly performed by poor gypsies, although more and more non-gypsies were playing this music for a living. During the 19th century it became a recognized art. The Flamenco dance is characterized by hand-clapping and stamping.
Famous artists: Paco de Lucia, Ramon Montoya, Tomatito

The music of ChinaExample of Chinese music
Chinese opera singerMusic was a major element in the life of China from earlier times. Ancient Chinese musical instruments from 1700s BC, such as drums, bells, stone chimes and round flutes, have been found. Reed mouth organs, zithers and bell chimes, from the 12th century BC, have also been found, demonstrating how important music was in the culture of ancient China, from the songs and ballads that were sung in the imperial court, to the agricultural year's festivals.
The pentatonic scale became the basis of Chinese and most of the Far East music, as different such scales have been employed for diverse occasions. Chinese opera was developed at the court, with dramas about secular themes, such as folk stories and epics.
Some percussion instruments such as the gong and the wood block originated in the Chinese music.

The Fado of Portugal
A melancholic Portuguese music style, mostly urban ballads, with sad lyrics of longing and despair, to a wistful accompaniment of guitars and woodwinds. Fado began as a whole out of the dives and houses of ill repute along the Lisbon waterfront. Fado melodies draw on African, Arabic, and Iberian influences.
Famous artists: Amalia Rodrigues

Celtic music
Irish harp playerThe music from the Celtic traditional countries (mostly Ireland but also Scotland, Wales, and more). The differences between Celtic music from all these different countries are very strong which make the term sometimes controversial and vague. Celtic music, however, mostly include bagpipes, flutes, fiddles and drums.

The Rebetiko (Rebétika) of Greece
A folk music style which combined Greek and Eastern influences and later gained wide popularity. During the 1920s, Greek refugees from the Turkish cities and lands in Asia Minor were forcibly moved to Greece, and they brought with them their own music and dance tradition. Their songs of the life and misery of the urban working class, accompanied with instruments such as the baglama(the Turkish saz) and the bouzouki, became an important root of modern bouzouki Greek music.
Famous artists: Markos Bambakaris, Vaggelis Papazoglou, George Batis, Stelios Kazantzidis

The Tango of Argentina
Tango is a passionate style that originated in the lower class streets of Buenos Aires in the 1880s and spread to Spain and other countries. Tango music is instrumental, with the violin and bandoneon are commonly used for the leading part, or vocal. Although early tangos were lively and happy, by the 1920s the lyrics and music became more and more melancholy. It was also influenced by the Cuban habanera and the Argentine milonga dance.
Famous artists: Astor Piazzolla, Carlos Gardel

The music of Japan
Japanese drum playersBegan with the chants of Shinto temple ritual, Japanese music was mainly influenced from Chinese, Manchurian, Indian and Korean music. The Japanese musical drama, called Noh, usually portraying everyday scenes, is based on Buddhist themes. The popular Kabuki dance-theatre uses musical instruments such as the flutes, drums and shamisen.
The Japanese court music featured a veriety of musical wind instruments (such as the shakuhachi and the national instrument, the koto) and percussion, such as the gong and the drums.

The Samba from BrazilMIDI example of SambaExample of the Samba
A popular Brazilian folk and ballroom dance in 2/4 meter. Although the roots of the Samba are in Africa, most of the development is done in Brazil, where the Samba, or the Batuque (Batukada), is the main dance in the carnival parties and samba schoolsBandeo - a samba school from Italy. Its syncopated rhythm was used, in the 1960s, as the basis of the bossa nova.

Bossa NovaBossa nova example
In the early 1960's Brazilian Bossa Nova was started in Rio de Janeiro, as a mixture of elements of Samba with Cool jazz and classical music. Off beat guitar rhythms are dominant in Bossa nova with a very warm and intimate vocal style.
Famous artists: Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto, Luiz Bonfa and Gerry Mulligan.

The Cuban RumbaRhumba example
A family of Cuban social rhythms and dances, such as the old, slow 'Yambu', the medium-tempo courtship dance 'Guaguanco' and 'Columbia' - an acrobatic and strong dance. Some experts estimate that the Rumba was brought to America by the African slaves.
Famous artists: "Los Papines", "Los Munequitos de Mantanzas"

SalsaSalsa rhythm in fusion musicSalsa example
An American (New York) term for Cuban and Puerto Rican dance music, based on the mambo or montuno rhythms; literally means 'sauce' in Spanish. Tito Puente, the king of mambo, claims that what the salsa musicians are playing is really a mambo and there is nothing new in the NY salsa style: "Salsa is something you eat!".
A Salsa band mostly include percussion instruments such as timbales, congas and bongos, and the guitar, bass, piano, brass section and vocals.
Famous artists: Celia Cruz, Hansel Martrinez, Gloria Estefan, Tito Nieves

Cha cha chaCha cha cha exampleLatin music
A fast rhythmic ballroom dance from Cuba, consisting of three steps and a hip-swaying shuffle. Many forms of American music, including Motown, Jazz, Folk and Rock used the Cha Cha Cha with great success (including Carlos Santana's great hit "Oye Como Va").
Famous artists: Enrique Jorrin, Tito Puente

MerengueExample of Merengue
The Dominican Republic contributed this social dance in the 1940's. Merengue is originally a guitar style, accompanying a dance for two, with a fast tempo.
Famous artists: Wilfrido Vargas, Juan Luis Guerra

The music of AfricaZumari (double-reed instrument) player in Kenya - Courtesy of Lior DafniMasenqo (spike fiddle) player in Ethiopia - Courtesy of Lior DafniExample of the music of Africa
Arab North African music is a branch of Middle Eastern (Arab) music. But with more than 50 African nations and around 1,000 different languages, the music of sub-Saharan Africa is diverse and full of music styles, influences and musical instruments. A common feature in African music is the use of repetition as a basis for improvisation, and musical variations. Another common feature in this music is the use of antiphonal or call-and-response, a conversational technique in singing and playing.
Music is a useful art in Africa. Africans use singing in order to coordinate the planting in the field, to control the movement of cattle by playing flutes, and they use specific types of music to mark important stages of a person's life (children's games, weddings, funerals, etc). Music as a whole is a medium for the transmission of social values.
Often combined with dance and speech, African music allows everyone to participate in the event by singing along with the chorus, dancing, or clapping hands in an appropriate pattern.

Jewish Klezmer musicKlezmer music by Israel Zohar and his band
Study more
Famous artists: Giora Feidmann, Israel Zohar and Albert Piamenta

Middle Eastern (Arabic) musicClassical Arabic music
Study more
Famous artists: composers such as Abdel Wahab, Farid El Atrache, Sunbati and singer Um Kalsum

American Country musicAmerican country music
See in the pop section

ReggaeReggae example
See in the pop section

Musical World
Composer's Nations
Lesson for you
Oriental rhythms


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