A Planet of Discovery

Dateline: 05/17/99

To many music fans, the term "World Music" evokes thoughts of African drums, Arabic harmonies, and Latin dance beats. And they would not be wrong -- World Music encompasses all of that, and much more.

World Music is not just non-Western musical styles or artists that incorporate musical instruments from different cultures other than the dominant North American one. For one, much of what is World Music uses many different genres and instrumentations from different parts of the world, not just one in particular. This is what we call World Fusion.

A side of World Music often overlooked is that which comes from Western countries, but is not commercial in nature, defies categorization, and often includes lyrics not in English -- something which automatically marginalizes the music and the artist outside of their particular country. Liedermacher (singer/songwriter) music in Germany, chanson in France, and even straight-ahead pop from Québec, Canada fall into this category.

We really live in a world *of* music. A lot of what surrounds us on the radio reflects aspects of cultures, be they are own or from far off lands. Native American music comes from our own backyard, literally, whether you live in Canada or the United States. If you live in Ireland, the Celtic sound and accompanying dances have a long, deep tradition.

Every country or culture has its own defining music. And you don't have to have the blood of a particular ethnicity or enjoy it. In that way, music is our common bond, and our common love -- no matter where in the world you are listening.

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