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International Music

Resources for research and listening for folk and popular music from around the world.


The countries of Asia have a long history of classical music styles as well as current popular music genres.  Perhaps the most complex is India, which has distinct classical traditions, divided mainly into North and South (Carnatic) traditions. India is also famous for extravagant musical films, known as "Bollywood."

The Global Music Series books include a CD of examples.

Music(s) of Asia

  Photo of Several men in uniform playing various metallic percussion instruments

Gamelan, sacred percussion music of Bali, Indonesia.

Asia encompasses a vast and varied area with many musical cultures.

Indian music has a classical tradition based on improvisation to formulas, or ragas.  It was popularized in the West by Ravi ShankarThe Rough Guide to the Music of India will introduce you to a wide variety of traditional Indian music styles.  Bollywood is the name given to the musical films of India.  For a selection of Bollywood hits, check The Rough Guide to Bollywood Gold

China has a rich and diverse musical tradition, including opera, folk music, and modern popular music.

Korea has also embraced popular music, in a genre known as K-Pop, while not fogetting its varied musical culture.  The most well-known traditional style is the flamboyant drumming called Púngmul.

The Music of Japan has inspired Western composers, and continues to evolve in the Twenty-First century.  Popular music (J-Pop) is heavily influenced by American popular music, but some performers, such as the kitar-playing Yoshida Brothers, have blended traditional and modern styles.

Indonesia and Bali are best known for music of the gamelan, considered one instrument, but made up of many tuned metal drums.  The gamelan has fascinated and inspired many European and American composers, from Debussy to Steve Reich.

Selected Videos

DVDs in the Educational Technology & Resources Collection:



  • There'll Always be Stars in the Sky: The Indian Film Music Phenomenon
    DVD Video 10782
  • Rhythms to Nirvana: An Introduction to Indian Classical Music
    DVD Video 2750


Streaming Video on Kanopy Streaming FIlms

Serpent Mother

This film belongs to the Pleasing God series of films about how Hindus worship.  Serpent Mother is about devotion to the Goddess of Snakes and the importance of divine female power in West Bengal Indian life.

Jathilan: Trance and Possession in Java

Jathilan is a religious dance that uses the power of music and dance to channel powerful and sometimes terrifying forces.

Asiklar: Those Who Are in Love

Turkish minstrels, called Ashiks, sing stories and poems, accompanying themselves on an instrument called a saz.  Their music and tales fill a vital role in traditional Anatolian society.


Musafir is the name given to a group of folk musicians from different castes and religions in Rajasthan, India.

Are'are Muisc (part 1 and Part 2)

This film shows the making, tuning, and playing of panpies, wind instruments made from bamboo, made and used by the 'Are'are people of the Solomon Islands.

Amir: An Afghan Refugee Musician's Life in Peshawar, Pakistan

Amir Mohammad, from Herat,Afghanistan, was a refugee in the mid 1970s, playing resistance songs and making a living as a professional musician in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Namekas: Music in Lake Chambri

Pondo-speaking villagers of Papua New Guinea's Lake Chambri region use music, art, and legend to characterize personalities and powers of spirits.

Songs of Pasta ay:  Ta'ay - The Legendary Little People

The Pasta'ay is a significant ritual held every two years by the Saisai group of Taiwain, structured by special songs, and in the tenth year they celebrate a Great Ritual devoted to legendary little people.

Sounds of Love and Sorrow

Music and traditional tales present a rich background of Paiwan life in Taiwan.