World Music: A Very Short Introduction

Philip V. Bohlman
Pub date
May 2002
Very Short Introductions
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  • World music is presented in its full historical and modern diversity, ranging from folk and traditional music to 'worldbeat'
  • It devotes space in each chapter to those who make and study world music, the musicians and the scholars in the field
  • Bohlman strikes a balance between capturing the boundlessness of world music and the trappings of globalization.

'World music' emerged as an invention of the West from encounters with other cultures. This book draws readers into a remarkable range of these historical encounters, in which music had the power to evoke the exotic and to give voice to the voiceless. In the course of the volume's eight chapters the reader witnesses music's involvement in the modern world, but also the individual moments and particular histories that are crucial to an understanding of music's diversity. World Music is wide-ranging in its geographical scope, yet individual chapters provide in-depth treatments of selected music cultures and regional music histories. The book frequently zooms in on repertoires and musicians - such as Bob Marley, Bartok, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - and attempts to account for world music's growing presence and popularity at the beginning of the twenty-first century.


1: In the Beginning: Myth, Nature, and the Origins of Music
2: The West and the World
3: Between Myth and History, Between Europe and Its Others
4: Music of the Folk
5: Old-Time Religion
6: Music of the Nations
7: Diaspora
8: Colonial Musics, Post-Colonial Worlds, and the Globalization of Worldbeat
Appendix 1Media and Mediation of World Music: A Timeline of Music Technologies
Appendix 2World-Music Resources
Appendix 3Glossary of World-Music Genres
Appendix 4Glossary of Ethnomusicological Terms

About the author: 

Philip V. Bohlman, Professor of Music and Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago, has taught and published from an exceptionally broad range of topics in today's world musics: folk and ethnic music in the USA; the musics of European minorities and refugees; the Middle East and South Asia; the ideological and political dimensions of music in nationalism and racism. He is the 1997 recipient of the Royal Music Academy's Dent Medal, and Bohlman has written, edited, or co-edited seventeen books.

Philip Bohlman's superb study places world music squarely in history - and a lengthy history at that, reaching back to the Age of Discovery and even beyond. - Richard Middleton, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

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