Much of the world’s music, certainly including Western Classical, has religious origins. Some contemporary religious music, like Gospel and the briefly popular revival of Gregorian Chant, has achieved commercial recording success. Recent interest in world music is starting to illuminate a wider range of Ceremonial and Chant styles, including the Hindu-based Monkey Chant of Indonesia, the chants of the Buddhist monks of Tibet, the music of the sacred dances of the Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest, the music of the healing dance trances of the Ganawi of Morocco, and the Rustavi Choir from the Republic of Georgia. Although many of these recordings are made for reasons of historical or cultural preservation, some inventive artists — like the successful dance act Enigma — have merged elements of Ceremonial or Chant music with pop song structures for considerable commercial and critical success.

Each country has their own folk music, but the genre usually refers to American and British music that has been passed through the generations by oral tradition. It’s simple, acoustic-based music that spins everyday events and common people into mythic status. Many traditional folksongs have no known author, they have simply evolved over the years. Most of the earliest recorded folk music was of this nature, but with Woody Guthrie, topical folk began making its way to record. Still, many artists, including the Weavers and Pete Seeger, chose to mix traditional songs with newer material, either written by the artists themselves or other contemporary musicians. Initially, Bob Dylan functioned in that style, but by his second album, =The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,= he began relying entirely on original material, thereby ushering the modern era of folk, where most performers sang their own (usually personally and introspective) material, and only occasionally throwing in covers.

From Jamaica, the reggae derives from the mento and acquired its name in the late 1960s. Reggae musicians have been influenced by Rastafariansim, a cult movement that looks to Africa as the motherland of all black peoples. Bob Marley (1945-1981) was the first important artist of this style.

A unique blend of New Orleans-based R&B crossed with Jamaican syncopated laid-back grooves, incorporating percussive rhythm guitar and keyboard riffs. Over the years, reggae has developed into many sub-genres including dub, dancehall and ska. Superstar legends Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, and the pop/reggae stylings of Maxi Priest are among its strongest proponents.

World Beat

Worldbeat is a catch-all applied to various global and ethnic musics, typically those heavy on percussion and rhythm and not of Western origin.

World Fusion

This blending of jazz and non-western music can incorporate elements of rock, jazz, African, Latin and Indian sounds. Prime examples include the Zawinul Syndicate, Paco de Lucia, Trilok Gurtu and Shakti.

World Traditions

Music that reflects the intrinsic values of an indigenous ethnic or cultural group.