User Tools

Site Tools


World Music

World Music is an internationally accepted term that describes a series of musical genres found across the globe. The category includes any form of traditional or contemporary folk music from any country in the world.

History of the World Music Category

According to American musician Matthew Montfort, the term “world music” was coined by ethnomusicologist Robert E. Brown in the early 1960s at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He used the term solely for the traditional music of the world, so it wasn't a genre, but rather a set of traditions.

Before the 1980s, world music was not clearly identified as a category of music. Some of the names used included International Music, Ethnic Music, or Folk. It is not clear who used the term world music first, but there are accounts from 1984. A CD review published on December 27 of 1984 in a German publication from Hannover reproduces a quote from German record company Exil Musik, which defined Dissidenten's music as ”a milestone on the road to a world-music.” At around the same time, another review published in Germany's Frankenpost describes Dissidenten's music as ”…a compact new world music.”

The term world music became widely used as marketing tool in 1987. According to fRoots founder, Ian Anderson, British record label executives Roger Armstrong (Ace Records) and Ben Mandelson (GlobeStyle) called a meeting in the UK in 1987 to discuss the creation of a new musical category. The meeting was attended by some of the key figures in the British world music industry. There are historical records of that meeting because Ian Anderson kept a copy of the minutes. Read the full article that is available at fRoots.

The term world music was translated to various languages. In Spanish it is called músicas del mundo. Germans call it weltmusik and French speakers use the term musiques du monde.

World music in the past decades

World Music Directory


Education and Research



Live music

Music Awards

Music Museums

  • Music Museums. A list of museums specialized in music or with large musical instrument collections.




Promotion, Publicity and Marketing

  • CD Filing. Details the filing guidelines that were implemented by independent world music labels for distribution and retail purposes


Music Organizations. Organizations involved with ethnomusicology and/or world music.

Recording industry



  • Countries. Search about world music by country.
  • Travel guides. These international travel guides focus on the musical and cultural aspects of specific cities throughout the globe. The guides include information about record stores, venues, festivals, instrument stores, instrument makers, and much more.


Marlon Klein (Dissidenten), Ian Anderson (fRoots), Angel Romero (World Music Central)

start.txt · Last modified: 2013/02/01 00:48 by angelromero