Traditional Musics of the World: 5 styles not to be missed

Traditional Musics of the World: 5 styles not to be missed

SEA and YOU. The festival of traditional music in Europe

Songs, dances and enveloping music. Traditional musics around the world are priceless diamonds, for the peoples who play them and for us who are delighted by this variety of sounds, colors and feelings.

All different and yet so similar, traditional musics in the World represent a cultural heritage to be preserved and conveyed with all our might. That is why SEA and YOUthe travelling festival of traditional music from Porto, Granada and Naples, was born.

Three cities, three concert halls, three associations that have come together to give life to a unique festival that aims to make fado, flamenco and classic Neapolitan song as widely known as possible.

The start of the Festival is set for November 11th in Granada, it will continue on February 17th in Porto and on April 26th in Naples, and it will start something unique.

If this new way of musical tourism is a fundamental part of the SEA and YOU festival, the discovery of other traditional musics around the world can only increase the desire to discover these beautiful realities that are so fundamental to human development. 

Despite being so different, traditional musics around the world share many aspects.

Almost all of them are the result of a grassroots birth, which flourished thanks to non-professional artists; they have in common that they are expressions of social and religious events of their peoples and are always made with characteristic instruments such as drums, flutes and guitars.

Let’s take a look at five traditional musics around the world that you ABSOLUTELY must know.

Irish Music. Fairy tales, myths and legends in traditional music around the world

In the Celtic tradition, handed down orally from generation to generation, Irish music did not acquire scores until around the 18th century. The so-called music of the bards, of which Turlough O’Carolan is the greatest exponent, produced ballads for poets and minstrels to extol the deeds of the people.

It is not difficult to understand the success of Irish music. They transport you to a world of magic, straight out of fairy tales and ancient myths. Huge endless meadows, the gray atmosphere of the Midlands and the sounds made with harps, bagpipes, flutes and drums make Irish songs of Celtic origin unique.

Celtic music has always been a point of reference for those who love and follow traditional music around the world. There are several festivals that welcome and enhance this ancient tradition, one even being in Italy, and the reason is that this music manages to unite all those who listen to it, with folk dancing and singing. The typical scene is as follows: a pub, beers at the table, in a corner the musicians and everyone dancing, singing and enjoying themselves.

Whether you are in a pub in Dublin or visiting Loch Ness you will come across the famous music of this wonderful land of legends and ancient stories.

Traditional music in the ancient world. African music

Africa is a land that always arouses wonder. Its sunsets, scenic beauty and wonderful traditions make it a continent of high cultural and historical value.

If we imagine African music, we immediately think of a type of tribal music, made up of dancing, singing and rhythms beaten by a drum.

This particular tribal music is actually peculiar not to the whole of Africa, but to sub-Saharan Africa.

Pentatonic and poly rhythmic, music in Africa had not only artistic value, but above all social and religious value. It was performed by particular instruments, such as the 21-string guitar known as the kora, or the drum known as the djembe, but also by a very particular storyteller known as the griot, whose function was not only to accompany songs, but to recall the past of the ancestors during religious and social functions.

It is a music that is strongly tied to the land, which spread during the dark period of colonialism, but which then gave voice to an entire people, and made known a type of traditional music that is among the most beautiful in the world.

Sombrero and guitar. Traditional Mexican music

Nothing is more characteristic than typical Mexican mariachi music. With their broad sombreros and vibrant clothes, the mariachis are known for their sweeping music and extravagant attire, but above all for being the keepers of one of the most iconic traditional musics in the world.

Like all popular music, the Mexican song has a history rooted in centuries past, possibly originating in the 18th century in the western region of Mexico, and derived from the union of the music of the indigenous people with the Spanish music of the colonizers. 

The Mariachi orchestras are an essential part of this popular music, and its instruments are inseparable from the songs. They range from the lively little vihuela guitar to the acoustic bass guitar called guitarrón, via trumpets and violins.

The Mariachi repertoire is full of songs that tell stories of life, love and national pride. For example, songs like La Adelita are dedicated to the women who participated in the Mexican Revolution, while Cielito Lindo is a hymn to the love and beauty of the Mexican land.

Their music reflects the past, celebrates the present and inspires future generations, channeling the emotions and pride of a nation through unforgettable melodies that are among the finest of traditional music in the world.

The most delicate of traditional musics in the World. Japanese traditional music

Traditional Japanese music, known as hogaku, has deep origins dating back more than thousands years! This art form has been influenced by Chinese, Korean and Indian traditions, but has developed its own unique identity over the centuries.

Extremely diverse, it can be divided mainly into two categories: gagaku and min’yo. The former style was played during religious ceremonies and at the court of nobles, and consisted of intricate melodies played on traditional instruments such as a mouth organ called sho, a double flute called hichiriki and the biwa, a typical plucked string instrument.

The second style, min’yo, represents the popular music of the masses. The songs told stories of everyday life, love and work in the villages and rural regions of Japan.

The melodies of traditional Japanese music can vary widely, from sweet and melancholic to lively and festive, these songs are a window into Japan’s rich history and culture, allowing listeners to immerse themselves in the deep emotions and events of the past.

Traditional music in the world where time has stood still. Australia and its traditional musics

Traditional Australian music has a long and complex history dating back millennia, with roots in the cultures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander indigenous peoples of Australia. These cultures have a rich oral tradition, passed down through generations and used to tell stories of hunters and gatherers, and to connect with the land and spiritual forces.

This music is characterized by a deep sense of rhythm and percussion, with the use of instruments such as the didgeridoo, a typical wind instrument, the bullroarer and various types of drums.

Traditional Australian music is incredibly diverse due to the many indigenous cultures found in mainland Australia and the Torres Strait Islands.

Each region has developed unique musical styles, instruments and traditional dances.

For example, central desert peoples often use the didgeridoo and guttural chants, while in coastal regions you may encounter more melodic styles with stringed instruments such as the yidaki.

Traditional Australian music has served a number of social functions in indigenous cultures. It served as a means to communicate stories and legends, to celebrate important events such as initiation ceremonies, weddings and rites of passage, and to connect spiritually with the land.

The songs celebrate nature, wildlife, stars and sacred places. This deep connection with the surrounding environment is evident in the music, which evokes the sound of wind in the trees, birdsong and the roar of the sea.


See how many traditional songs there are in the World? But the list could be endless. Here we have indicated only five, but many more traditional songs are waiting to be heard, as will happen during SEA and YOU, the travelling festival organized by NapulitanataCajaGranada Foundation and Ideal Fado .

Read on for more on the world of traditional music and to find out more about the SEA and YOU festival.

By Davide Lancia