What Is World Music?

As we’ve explored in a previous article, many music genres fail to find a concrete definition among music lovers. What may be defined as one genre by some may be considered within a completely different category by others. This is arguably one of the most beautiful things about music; it’s ability to change and grow with each individual’s ear.

“World music” is often used as a blanket term to refer to any music outside of a person’s identified culture. However there is something slightly underwhelming about a phrase so simplified that represents all musical sounds. An interesting fact about the term is that the official definition of “world music” from World Music in Music Libraries only includes eastern music from the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa and occasionally Oceania, and entirely excludes native western cultures. To further understand why and how the definition makes these distinctions, we will look at two contrasting compilations Soul and Rise. 

We have explored in a previous post that Soul consists of Native American sounds infused with dance music. The way in which traditional sounds are made reflects the lifestyle and resources of indigenous people. From percussion-based chants to throat singing, the sounds are uniquely identifiable in the North American region. 

On the other hand, the music of Rise definitely falls under the conventional definition of “world music.” Middle Eastern sounds infuse within the featured dance music as Indian artist Prem Joshua is featured alongside world music connoisseur Jeremy Roske. It can be argued that because all North American music stems from alternative cultural roots, but that the definition does not encompass these pieces as true “world music.”

“World music” may have many alternative meanings, but it is ultimately left up to the listener to define for themselves. To make your decision, check out the Soul or Rise compilation on Amazon and Google Play.

Contact us for licensing opportunities or to have a custom soundtrack curated for your project.