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
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'.
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
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.
folk music's melodic material is not based on Western major
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
music - on the "raga". The folk music of many nations
focus on the pentatonic scale (a five-note scale), among which are the
and some African
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 variety.
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
to name two of them), and many others wrote under the inspiration of folk
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 India
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).
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,
and the tabla.
Famous artists: Pandit Ravi Shankar, Zakir Hussain
The Flamenco of Spain
A style of Spanish
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,
The music of China
was a major element in the life of China from
earlier times. Ancient Chinese musical instruments from 1700s BC, such
bells, stone chimes
and round flutes,
have been found. Reed mouth organs,
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.
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
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
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,
The Rebetiko (Rebétika)
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
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
and the Argentine milonga dance.
Famous artists: Astor
The music of Japan
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,
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 Brazil
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 schools.
Its syncopated rhythm was used, in the 1960s, as the basis of the bossa
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
Famous artists: Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz,
Joao Gilberto, Luiz Bonfa and Gerry Mulligan.
The Cuban Rumba
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"
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,
and the guitar,
section and vocals.
Famous artists: Celia Cruz, Hansel Martrinez,
Gloria Estefan, Tito Nieves
Cha cha cha
A fast rhythmic ballroom dance from Cuba,
consisting of three steps and a hip-swaying shuffle. Many forms of American
music, including Motown, Jazz,
used the Cha Cha Cha with great success (including Carlos
Santana's great hit "Oye Como Va").
Famous artists: Enrique Jorrin, Tito Puente
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 Africa
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
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
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.