World Music Genres List

The most comprehensive list of World Music genres available on the Internet

The Music Genres List site covers many of the most popular styles of world music, we hope this becomes the definitive list of world music genres on the Internet, send an email to add @ musicgenreslist dot com if you feel any world music genres are missing and we’ll add to complete the music list.

  • World
    • Africa
    • Afrobeat
    • Afro-Pop
    • Asia
    • Australia
    • Bossa Nova (with thx to Marcos José Sant’Anna Magalhães)
    • Cajun
    • Caribbean
    • Celtic
    • Celtic Folk
    • Contemporary Celtic
    • Drinking Songs
    • Drone (with thx to Robert Conrod)
    • Europe
    • France
    • Hawaii
    • Indian Pop
    • Japan
    • Japanese Pop
    • Klezmer
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Polka
    • South Africa
    • South America
    • Traditional Celtic
    • Worldbeat
    • Zydeco

World Music: Musical genre incorporating diverse styles from Africa, eastern Europe, Asia, South and Central America, the Caribbean, and nonmainstream Western folk sources. The term was first coined largely in response to the sudden increase of recordings in non-English languages that were released in Great Britain and the United States in the 1980s, but by the early 1990s world music had become a bona fide musical genre and counterpoint to the increasingly synthetic sounds of Western pop music. Initially, African popular music and world music were virtually synonymous, and the genre’s biggest stars included the Nigerians King Sunny Ade and Fela Anikulapo Kuti and the Senegalese Youssou N’Dour. Moreover, one of its earliest advocates was the Cameroonian-born Frenchman Francis Bebey.

By the 21st century world music encompassed everything from Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the pop-flamenco of the French group the Gipsy Kings to “ambient-global” projects that merged so-called ethnic voice samples with state-of-the-art rhythm programming.


Drone: Ethnic or spiritual music which contains drones and is rhythmically still or very slow, called “drone music”,[5] can be found in many parts of the world, including bagpipe traditions, among them Scottish pibroch piping; didgeridoo music in Australia, South Indian classical Carnatic music and Hindustani classical music (both of which are accompanied almost invariably by the tambura, a plucked, four-string instrument which is only capable of playing a drone); the sustained tones found in the Japanese gagaku[12] classical tradition; possibly (disputed) in pre-polyphonic organum vocal music of late medieval Europe;[13] and the Byzantine chant’s ison (or drone-singing, attested after the fifteenth century).[14] Repetition of tones, supposed to be in imitation of bagpipes,[15][16][17][18] is found in a wide variety of genres and musical forms. However, the lineage of stillness and long tones occurring in classical compositions during adagio movements, including, for instance, the third movement of Anton Webern’s Five Small Pieces for Orchestra, as well as in Northern European folk musics in the form of “slow airs” has directly descended into modern popular and electronic music.[citation needed]

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