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World Music – what is it? Of course it can be all the music of the world rather than a pigeon hole for music sellers who are not sure how to classify certain music. Is Ali Farka Toure’s music “‘blues”‘   “Malian instrumental” , “Griot music”  or just  “World” Music. For the more broad minded,  World Music encompasses so many different styles, best not to classify ,just listen and decide whether you like it or not.

Ali Farka Toure

Ali Farka Toure

What about sources , just to listen and try – the BBC is a great place to start.

Go to Radio 3, World Music


Lucy Duran, BBC presenter,  has a wonderful breadth of knowledge about all music and a talent for presenting musicians with great dignity –

try World Routes in Segou

– two special editions of World Routes from the Festival on the Niger in Segou, Mali.

Andy Kershaw has an infectious enthusiasm for music and people from many countries –

try Kershaw in MauritaniaAndy Kershaw visits the Festival of Nomad Music in Mauritania, a country on the western fringe of the Sahara Desert that is rarely visited by  tourists.


Listen to a series of World Routes features highlighting the incredible diversity of music from more than 40 countries around the world, including unique audio recordings, interviews and photographs.

Radio 3 Guides to World Music

From Haiti to Mali and Venezuela to Finland, listen online to experts talk about the country’s musical history with supporting music examples.

World Music Audio Archive

The audio archive is the one stop shop for all the world music features and concerts currently available on the BBC web site.


Listen to  Charlie Gillet’s wide musical choices  on the World Service.

And the “best”……

Awards for World Music 2008

Find out all about the 2008 BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music, including Introduction and Highlights videos and profiles of all the winners and nominees.

And even more awards……

Songlines Magazine Awards 2009


Listen to samples and check information on the best group, cross-cultural collaboration, newcomer and best artist from this year’s awards.

Music is about politics, history, ethnicity and the environment so states the magazine.


Songlines is a magazine which apart from reporting on all things musical sells with a free CD of ‘World’ music.

The website has an interactive dimension where you can turn over sample pages from the magazine.

beginners guides

beginners guides

The June issue includes a profile on the record label Cumbancha who are offering all Songlines readers and elisters eight free track downloads including The Idan Raichel Project, Andy Palacio, Umalali and Rupa & The April Fishes. To download the full tracks, simply visit http://www.cumbancha.com/songlines.


Just like the BBC, Songlines has beginners guides, to introduce readers and listeners to a wide diversity of sounds, cultures , musicians and poets. The variety includes:

  • Alan Lomax >
  • Ali Farka Touré >
  • Altan >
  • Angelique Kidjo >
  • Asha Bhosle >
  • Baaba Maal >
  • Buena Vista >
  • Caetano Veloso >
  • Camarón de la Isla >
  • Capercaillie >
  • Carmen Miranda >
  • Cesaria Evora >
  • Eleftheria Arvanitakir >
  • Fairuz >
  • Fela Kuti >
  • felafeature
  • Femi Kuti >
  • Franco >
  • Gilberto Gil >
  • Gipsy Kings >
  • Huun-Huur-Tu >
  • Jacques Brel >
  • Khaled >
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo >
  • Lila Downs >
  • Manu Chao >
  • Manu Dibango >
  • Marta Sebestyen >
  • Mercedes Sosa >
  • Milton Nascimento >
  • Miriam Makeba >
  • Muzsikás >
  • Natasha Atlas >
  • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan >
  • Oliver Mtukudzi >
  • Oum Kalthoum >
  • Paco de Lucía >
  • Planxty >
  • Ray Barretto >
  • Ry Cooder >
  • Salif Keita >
  • Shahram Nazeri >
  • Solas >
  • Susana Baca >
  • Taraf de Haïdouks >
  • Trilok Gurtu >
  • Varttina >
  • Youssou N’Dour >

More on specific musicians in later posts.