Books About Music

Get to know music by reading

World Music: books

World Music is a controversial marketing term, normally referring to the folk music and traditional music of the many different ethnicities around the globe. When it was first coined, it referred mainly to Non-Western indigenous music of places exotic to the Western world. This page lists and reviews books on the subject of world music.

If you look beyond the controversial nature of the term, you will find a real musical treasure. Music has been recorded all over the world, and sometimes only with primitive field recorders. For instance, the famous ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey recorded indigenous music in Southern and Central Africa between the 1920s and the 1970s. World music may take some time to get into when it comes to listening to it, but reading about it actually will catch your interest quicker. The way in which music and dancing are “used” in different parts of the world can be so very different, depending on social conditions, traditions and norms!

If you want to purchase any of the books – feel free to use the Amazon links!

List of books

As of now, there are two books in this section.

The Rough Guide to World Music (Volume 1): Africa and the Middle East

world music books the rough guide to world music africa middle eastThe Rough Guides to World Music helped me construct an entire website on world music. These books, edited by Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham and Jon Lusk, contain more information than you’re probably able to take in on the subject of world music. This is the first book in the third edition of the series, which is slightly different from the second in that the first volume previously contained information on the music in European countries as well.

Most of the countries get their own chapters, with titles reflecting the trends and philosophies guiding the development and performance of traditional music. Towards the end of each chapter, there are recommendations of good recordings to purchase. This book has, as of now, an incredible rating of 4,76 / 5 if combining the user reviews of Amazon US and Amazon UK. It has been called a work of “lunatic scholarship”.

Buy at (US) | Buy at (UK)

The Rough Guide to World Music (Volume 2): Europe, Asia & Pacific

rough guide to world music europe asia pacificThe section on music in European countries is included in volume 2 in the third edition of the Rough Guides to World Music. In the second edition, this section is in volume 1, whereas volume 2 also includes the music of the Americas. This means that, as of now, the third edition of these books do not cover the music of North and South America. If this is the area that interests you the most, I strongly recommend you to purchase the second edition, which is not dated yet (buy at Amazon US, buy at Amazon UK).

I think I’ve read almost every page in this 784-page resource on world music. It is a fantastic book, and if compared with the second edition, several new, smaller areas and countries are covered. There is also an extensive section of gypsy music, which is great, given that the Roman communities do not have that strong connections to specific geographic locations.

Buy at (US) | Buy at (UK)

More world music books may appear on this page in the future.

Book review page: 15. Published August 17, 2012 as World Music: books.

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