Virtually every community in the world has some tradition of music.

Some musical traditions are on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, but many that do not make that list are also important or interesting, at least to some people.

Styles of music


There are arguments about how to categorize music, but there are some commonly accepted genres:

  • Folk music is created and survives through local tradition. Folk songs are often by an unknown author, or traditional songs in a style similar to those. There is also an "urban folk" style, fusing folk, popular and other types of music, which was developed starting around the 1960s in various places, including the United States and Latin American countries.
  • Classical music has been written down in Europe since no earlier than the 9th century CE, though it had already existed for some time before that. It is roughly divided by period, between the Middle Ages (5th-early 15th century), Renaissance (early 15th-early 17th century), Baroque (late 16th-mid 18th century), the Classical period (early 18th-early 19th centuries), Romantic (19th and early 20th centuries) and contemporary (20th and 21st centuries). Western classical music spread to other continents through colonization and immigration from Europe and cultural exchange, and now exists throughout the world, though it is not uniformly distributed.
Aboriginal Australian didgeridoo player
  • Indian classical music includes Hindustani classical music in the north, and Carnatic classical music in the south.
  • Non-European classical music (or more properly musics) exist in the Arab world (Middle East and North Africa) and Turkey, Iran, Central Asia (e.g., Bukhara), the Indian Subcontinent (with distinct though related Hindustani [Northern Indian, including Pakistan and Bangladesh] and Carnatic [Southern Indian] traditions), Myanmar, Indonesia (with Central Javanese and Balinese styles particularly famous), Malaysia (epitomised by dikir barat, a type of group singing), Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, Japan, Korea and West Africa. Some of these have used their own forms of notation.
  • Popular music is made for a mainstream, contemporary audience, including genres such as rock and roll.
  • World music combines different musical traditions.
  • Blues originated among African-Americans in the Deep South of the United States in the 19th century. It forms the roots of jazz, bluegrass and rock and roll.
  • Jazz is a type of music that originally arose among African-Americans and Creoles in New Orleans in the early 20th century and has since gone through several style changes and become international. Almost every jazz performance includes improvisation or embellishment, with musicians creating their own impromptu melodies, usually based upon the chord changes of a preexisting melody (with the exception of free jazz). There are so many different styles of jazz that they are almost impossible to list; however, the main jazz subgenres are traditional jazz (starting in the early 1900s), big band and swing (1930s and 1940s), bebop (1940s and 1950s on the East Coast but a few years later on the West Coast), soul jazz (late 1950s and early to mid 1960s), free jazz (1960s to 1980s) and bossa nova (1950s and 1960s in Brazil).
  • Electronic dance music is made with synthesizers and drum machines and played at nightclubs, raves and electronic music festivals in many countries. It includes such subgenres as techno, house, electro and psytrance.
  • Country music is a style of American popular music that traces its origins to the rural white working class in the South, thus incorporating folk styles from different parts of Europe, though the banjo, which is a common instrument in country music, traces its origin to West African lutes. Nashville is considered to be the spiritual home of this type of music.
  • Reggae is a style developed mainly by Rastafarians in Jamaica. its best-known star is Bob Marley.
  • Musicals exist at the intersection of theater and music. While musicals have been written and performed in many styles of music, there is a certain style that at least some songs in the vast majority of musicals adhere to. While musicals are a huge phenomenon in Great Britain and the United States, they are much less of a factor outside the Anglosphere and often viewed as "less high brow" than theater or opera in continental Europe and thus usually do not benefit from state sponsoring while opera and spoken theater do.

There are also music genres for defined purposes: military music, film music, religious music, children's music, etc.



Aside from concert halls and operas with dress code, there are more casual ways to enjoy music.

  • Music is often combined with dancing in discoteques and clubs.
  • Travelers will encounter street musicians in downtown and public pianos in stations and airports.
  • Parades are often led by marching bands.
  • Traditional festivals are usually accompanied by some form of local folk music.
  • Originated in Japan, karaoke parlors quickly spread over Asia and some Western countries too.




Guitars outside the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland

Many museums of history, culture or archeology around the world include some exhibits of musical instruments or artifacts such as manuscripts.

There are also museums or halls of fame for particular genres or countries:

See also


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