World Music Resources
Over 10 years ago when I first started listening to what would eventually become “world music” it was difficult to find many recordings. If you heard something on a late-night radio program (like Echoes), and missed the artist or album name… well, you were pretty much stuck.
Of course today, things are much different. The Internet has allowed artists and listeners to interact – sometimes directly – in ways that we could barely have imagined as we were buying our new Walkmans.
Now, the quickest way to find a particular artist or style of music is to do a search on Amazon.com or Emusic.com. Emusic in particular has a lot of old material and off-the-beaten path music that you won’t necessarily find elsewhere.
If you still can’t find something, I’ve hand-picked these resources as some of the most reliable and interesting that personally have helped me explore music. Just don’t forget… the world is becoming a smaller place, so some of this stuff is now in our backyards just waiting to be explored. We no longer need to travel to Philly, NY or DC to find great “world music”… however you define it. Which brings me to my next point…
If you see/hear a band locally – buy their CD at the gig. Don’t say… “Oh, I’ll just get it online.” Why?
#1 – You will probably forget, or lose the impulse (which is fine if you are on a budget, but if you really do like it – get it there).
#2 – Buying CDs at gigs directly from the artist ensures that a larger portion of money actually goes in their pocket. As an artist myself, I know this from personal experience.
#3 – You may not be able to find it on line easily.
#4 – Supporting a band at the gig by purchasing their music goes above and beyond any applause they might get that single night. And besides, you now have a piece of their history with you – a moment in time that you will always be able to relive and think about when you look at the CD you purchased.
While I’m at it… CD or MP3? As much as I love online music and support legal download sites, I still love the physical and tactile experience that comes with unwrapping a CD (yes, even the annoying spine labels) and reading through the (hopefully) detailed notes. When I was growing up, and I couldn’t afford much music, I would sit on the floor and savor a recording end to end with headphones, many times reading the words as I went. For me, nothing can replace that experience. For the current generation, well… band web sites are often very good too, and offer additional tracks and downloads… to each his own.
Resources… places to start…
World Music Network – web site for Rough Guides – Books and CDs about music from all over the world. Most releases are highly reviewed and of high quality, so this is a great way to explore a new form of music.
Arc Music – UK record label with a broad selection of music from around the globe.
Fonó Records – Eastern European label featuring a site in Hungarian or English.
Kalan – Turkish music specialty label.
Luaka Bop – David Byrne’s record label.
Lyrichord – Lyrichord Discs is the premier independent label featuring the finest Traditional World Music Recordings, Early Music, World Music and Dance DVDs, and classical music recordings since 1950. Music Recordings Worldwide and throughout history on compact disc and DVD.
– Zakir Hussein’s record label.
Navras Records – Great resource for East Indian music.
Putumayo – Criticized for their more-or-less yuppie approach to music, there are often gems hidden in their collections. You can always use this as a rather safe investment in a style of music that you might not otherwise try.
Rykodisc – Rykodisc was the world’s first CD-only label, now operating in all formats, dedicated to the highest standards of quality in the industry, both in new releases and re-releases. Premium quality has always been a Rykodisc trademark. Most releases feature detailed liner notes and deluxe packaging, and many titles are over 70 minutes long, with extra tracks added wherever possible and appropriate.
Six Degrees Records – Six Degrees is known for releasing great contemporary South Asian music.
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings – Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution, the national museum of the United States.
World Circuit – Buena Vista Social Club, Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate… the list goes on.
Media & other resources
Songlines Magazine – UK-based magazine that has basically replaced all other forms of music journalism at Mothership Studios. Has built itself as the sold standard of world music criticism (in my opinion) and continues to be a source of new musical adventures for me, both as a listener and as an artist.Comes out quarterly with a cover mount CD sampler that is always a doorway to new talents. If you are into Podcasts, they have one of those too.
fROOTS – “Essential worldwide roots music guide”
World Music Central – Vast web site of resources, reviews and more.
– Concert Listings
RootsWorld – Regional resources and CD reviews.
World Music Press – Top quality, award-winning multicultural music books, recordings and choral music for educators, community outreach programs and music lovers.
National Geographic World Music Site – Provides samples of music from many groups all over the world, along with the usual great photos we’re used to seeing from NG.
World Music Store – Almost 12,000 titles of traditional and contemporary world music compact discs, videos and DVDs! The #1 choice for educators and educational institutions around the world, as well as for world music fans. Hard-to-find titles from many world music recording labels.
Library of Congress recordings – Perfect example of how Amercian music is itself a form of world music. Large repository of Blues and Folk.
Global Rhythm – an online magazine featuring world music festivals, concerts, world music downloads plus music reviews from Africa, Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. (This might be an American rival to Songlines… but I can’t vouch for the quality).
Calabash Music – One of many online sites selling music with legal downloads, but with a focus on world music.
Womad – One of the largest, most respected festival brands in the world music business.
GLOBE-L – the electronic discussion group about world music. We welcome subscribers who are radio dj’s, listeners, performers, record company people, reviewers, and anyone else who enjoys world music, including both traditional and “world beat” genres. GLOBE-L is an unmoderated list, but the usual standards of good taste apply, and posts should be germane to the subject of world music. The owner is Kay Tuma, Specialty Music Director and world music DJ for KUNV, Community Radio at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Contact Kay (email@example.com). To join GLOBE-L, send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the following message in the body: SUBSCRIBE GLOBE-L [YOUR NAME HERE]
Lark in the Morning – Locate unusual or hard to find instruments. Sometimes it’s fun just to look things up to see what they look like!
Mickey Hart – Grateful Dead percussionist and drumming pioneer. His Planet Drum project opened up a world of sounds to many artists, and his impact can even be heard on some of my own recordings.