Music World Tour
August 22, 2010 7:47 PM   Subscribe

Take me on a music world tour - what are your favorite non-Western songs?

They can be from any time period, from any region of the world. Just not The US/Canada/Europe (whatever you would consider "Western" music). I'm interested in hearing what other sounds are out there. MP3 or YouTube links are best. I'm looking for specific songs rather than styles or regions.
posted by god particle to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Voodoo Funk is a great blog that covers Afro-Funk music. The author scours West Africa for vinyl and frequently creates hour long mixes from what he finds, which he then posts as mp3 on his blog. Well worth listening to.
posted by robotot at 7:56 PM on August 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

Fela Kuti - Gentleman
posted by dydecker at 7:58 PM on August 22, 2010

Kaze Wo Atsumete by Happy End. Courtesy of the Lost in Translation soundtrack. Early 70s Japanese folk as far as I can tell.
posted by fso at 8:02 PM on August 22, 2010

Orchesta Baobab--Utrus Horas
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:21 PM on August 22, 2010

Celia Cruz - "Cucala"
posted by Joe Beese at 9:16 PM on August 22, 2010

Tinariwen, Assouf
posted by Crane Shot at 9:23 PM on August 22, 2010

There's a fantastic collection of Ethiopian Jazz called Ethiopiques. CD #4 is the best one I've heard. You may have heard it in the Jarmusch film Broken Flowers.

Here's one of the tracks.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:34 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hamlet Gonashvili — "Orovela." It's a folk song from the Republic of Georgia, and Gonashvili's performance is just heart-stopping.

(Also, you might take a look at fonotopia, which showed up on the Blue today.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:40 PM on August 22, 2010

I have always had a soft spot for Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (now part of the South Africa national anthem, although this is the original hymn used as an anti-Apartheid standard). It gives me chills.
posted by gemmy at 10:14 PM on August 22, 2010

One of my favorite sources for new music from around the world is Dj / rupture's radio show/podcast Mudd Up!
posted by mannequito at 10:21 PM on August 22, 2010

I'm not claiming all of these tracks are without Western influence.

Georgia: Nino Katamadze "Once in the street"

Russia: Olga Chikina

Bulgarian: Les Mystere Des Vox Bulgares: Koji Lio

Spanish: Andres Segovia playing Asturias

Indian/Bollywood: Silsila Ye Chaahat Ka

African war drums.
posted by fake at 10:27 PM on August 22, 2010

- Hoahio: Marimo, Less than lovers, more than friends, Happy mail
- Yamaguchi Goro: Sokaku Reibo (link is to the shortened version that went out with Voyager II)
- Benjamin Britten (composer): Curlew River (link is to the climactic scene; the whole thing is incredible)
- Takemitsu Toru (composer): Uninterrupted rests
posted by No-sword at 10:48 PM on August 22, 2010

Oh, Britten was from the UK, but Curlew River is heavily Noh-influenced.
posted by No-sword at 10:53 PM on August 22, 2010

YouTube is a bit of a wasteland when it comes to real, authentic Bulgarian singing, so I've taken the liberty of uploading ten songs from my personal collection.

Sichka je gora gora zelena (Spring Harvest Song)
- Mehrema Kichilieva, Aishe Sadakova, & Albena Kisjova
Zbirajte Se, Momi, Na Sedenkja (Sedenka Song) - Group of Six Women, Cerna Gova
La Bulgarie attristée (Historic Song) - Pernik Region, Kladnitsa
Fifty Comrades Are Drinking Wine - Pernik Region, Kladnitsa
Pchelitse medna ilyadna (You Thousand-Breeding Honey-Bee) 1980 - Vocal Group, St. Lazar's Day (Darvenitsa, Sofia)
Zhatvarska (Harvest Song) - Sofia Region : Gabra & Ihtiman
Jelica Se V Gorica Preveva (Wedding Song) - Sevda Kostadinova Velcheva & Gina Georgina Goncheva
Edno Devojche Po Dvore Sheta - Ivanka Delsizova & Dunja Fetova
Slantseto e na zaoda (The Sun Is Setting) 1976 - Women's Vocal Group (Kalishe, MW Bulgaria)
Karaj, Boje, Na Kraj Da Karame (Harvest Song) - Nevena Veneva P'rzhova & Jovka Taneva
posted by mykescipark at 11:48 PM on August 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

(I have literally thousands more of these but I'd rather point you towards the right albums to buy if you like it)
posted by mykescipark at 11:50 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Japanese oldie:
Takuro Yoshida - Kekkon Shiyou Yo

Japanese pop/reggae:
Kusuo - Dear Grandma

Indonesian pop:
Letto - Sampai Nanti, Sampai Mati
Peterpan - Menghapus Jejakmu
posted by illenion at 12:11 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Salsa -
Hector Lavoe - El Cantante
Hector Lavoe - Bandolera

Latin Jazz/Salsa:

Francisco Aguabella - El Agua Limpia Todo

Egyptian Percussion/Spanish (flamenco) guitar:

Hossam Ramzy & Rafa El Tachuela - Rumbapa!

Puerto Rican Trio Music:

Trio Los Condes - Querube

Puerto Rican Danza Music:

Luis Miranda (composer) - v=ylbmZjOYIPI">Impromptu
posted by lizarrd at 1:04 AM on August 23, 2010

Grr that link got screwed up. Here is a fixed version:

Luis Miranda (composer) - Impromptu
posted by lizarrd at 1:04 AM on August 23, 2010

If you haven't already, I highly recommend Sigur Ros from Iceland. Every album I've ever heard of theirs is a priceless gem. Here are two of my favorites by them - Starálfur and Svefn-g-englar

I also love the music of Nitin Sawhney. While not necessarily Indian (he was born and raised in England), his music is deeply infused with rich Indian melodies. My favorite two picks from his solo career are Nadia and Homeland.

I have many others in my music collection, but these two stand out as the best. If I can remember some others, I'll post again. :) Happy aural travels!
posted by feeshbitZ at 1:30 AM on August 23, 2010

My introduction to enka was through the songs of Misora Hibari, one of the greatest artists of the genre. Now enka is considered old people's music, but it still makes me happy! And luckily, Misora Hibari is well-represented on the Youtubes.





Omatsuri Mambo


The first one is extremely groovy. The last one you may recognize as a cover of "Sukiyaki," which was a hit in the United States. The real title is of course not "Sukiyaki" and the lyrics have nothing to do with "Sukiyaki" and I could GRAR for ages at decades-old racism but I won't.

(These are some of my favorites, but there is much more out there if you search her name, either as "Misora Hibari" or "美空ひばり.")
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:38 AM on August 23, 2010

What the hell, I can write another comment before bed.

Another style of music that I enjoy is molam (also mo lam, mor lam, etc) from Thailand. Here is a famous molam artist, Banyen Rakgan (บานเย็น รากแก่น):


Another thai artist I really enjoy is Siriporn Ampaipong (ศิริพร อำไพพงษ์), who is sometimes described as a molam artist. The boundaries between molam, luk thung, and other styles of popular music in Thailand isn't really all that clear, though.


I'm glad you asked for video. These really are better in color! I'd never seen some of these before.

so much old people music, so tragically unhip
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:51 AM on August 23, 2010

Tarkan - Kuzu Kuzu and Hup
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:36 AM on August 23, 2010

album by cornelius - point
from japan
posted by mairuzu at 3:55 AM on August 23, 2010

Ofra Haza - Yerushalayim Shel Zahav
posted by watercarrier at 5:58 AM on August 23, 2010

Konono no.1 are outstanding. They are a musical ensemble from Congo who utilize thumb pianos amplified to the point of distortion and bucketloads of percussion.

Lufuala Ndonga
posted by ianK at 6:43 AM on August 23, 2010

I'm really fond of Nigerian Hip Hop- Bracket's a particular favorite.

Yori Yori
No Time

D'banj is also worth checking out.

Also, if you like things a bit more Americanized, Emmanuel Jal of Sudan has some amazing stuff.
posted by Cracky at 7:35 AM on August 23, 2010

Also- check out Mazaher and Makan- Makan is founded and run by an ethnomusicologist, and the musicians and performers they gather are usually really amazing.
posted by Cracky at 7:44 AM on August 23, 2010

It's gotten some exposure in the west, but I could listen to Chaiyya Chaiyya a whole lot more before I got tired of it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:14 PM on August 23, 2010

Oh damn, pretty much anything by Soda Stereo!

They are my favorite "I don't understand what the hell they are saying" band ever.

Disco Eterno (MTV) - Soda Stereo

Soda Stereo - La ciudad de la Furia unplugged

Zoom - Soda Stereo- MTV Unplugged
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 12:20 PM on August 23, 2010

Two South Indian classical songs:

Akshaya linga vibho (Primordial Tongue) composed by Muthuswami Dikshitar

Emi jesite nemi (What's the Use of Anything) by Tyagaraja

The second recording cuts off before the end of the song. There's another version available on playme.
posted by nangar at 2:12 PM on August 23, 2010

I can't resist this thread.

One of my favorite traditional instruments is the gayageum, which is a kind of Korean zither. The artist Byungki Hwang is one of the most famous masters of this instrument, and there are quite a few videos of his music on youtube.

Beside A Chrysanthemum (with vocals)

Hamadan (absolutely beautiful)

More videos.

The gayageum is also used in folk music. This video, which I just found yesterday while looking for gayageum videos on youtube, is joyously irresistible. It features two folk artists who play the gayageum and sing a folk song about birds.

This is probably a really annoying suggestion, but my music library contains a lot of non-western artists, many of whom have samples or full tracks on the site. (If not, you can often find them on youtube.) It's here.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:15 PM on August 23, 2010

Well, shoot, that link didn't work.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:15 PM on August 23, 2010

Some old israeli favorites:

Teshah Bakikar

Kol Halel Ani Beganech

And I really like Bankiero by Mory Kante
posted by wittgenstein at 2:46 PM on August 23, 2010

May as well keep this rolling. A few items from the Sublime Frequencies label:

From Iraq: Souad Abdullah's Unknown and Choubi Choubi by an unknown artist. From the amazing Choubi! Choubi! compilation.
Wazan Samat by Group Doueh of Western Sahara.
Blue Basket (unknown artist) from the Cambodian Cassette Archives.
Kheng 4 from Ethnic Minority Music of North Vietnam.
posted by mykescipark at 4:30 PM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Teresa Teng is a very famous Chinese pop singer from Taiwan during 1980s and early 1990s.

Two of her greatest hits are:
The Moon Represents My Heart 月亮代表我的心
When Will You Return? 何日君再來

I also love:
I only care about you 我只在乎你
How much worry 幾多愁

She could also sings in Japanese too!
I only care about you
posted by Carius at 6:18 PM on August 23, 2010

Poupée de cire, poupée de son by France Gall
posted by HeKilledKennedy at 9:25 AM on August 24, 2010

Just a few for now:

Traditional Chinese pipa instrumental - an excellent fingerpicking jam:

Mandarin mellow electronica/dreampop:
Carrchy - 日光倾城

Cantonese version of the traditional-tinged "Once Upon a Time in China" opening:
George Lam - 男兒當自強

Japanese synthy techno pop + rap:
Just Be Friends (feat. Zebra and Rapbit)

Shamisen and rock from Japan, in English:
Monkey Majik - Change

80's Indian pop (in Hindi?):
Nazia Hassan - Aap Jaisa Koi

Korean rock (via this excellent FPP):
Chang Ki-ha and The Faces - 달이 차오른다, 가자

Korean (13-member) boy band dance pop:
Super Junior - It's You
posted by cobwebberies at 1:34 PM on August 29, 2010

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