Music is an integral part of the culture of each place and is usually described as a universal language.
Even if you don’t understand the lyrics of a song, you can feel touched or transported elsewhere thanks to it. It is also a way of celebrating life, conveying ancient stories and traditions. Perhaps that’s why an enormous amount of a place’s soul is reflected in the music.
To help you get to know the soundtrack of our destinations, we have prepared a series of 3 articles that will take you discovering some of the sounds of local folklore. The classics from the most popular artists and some of the new music which has been getting more airplay in recent years. A collection of world music!
Have a lovely (sound) trip!
Mongolian music is rich in variety, related to the various ethnic groups in the country. Among its unique contributions to world music culture are the urtyn duu (long chant) and the morin khuur (a kind of horse-head fiddle), both of which are declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
Traditional music uses pentatonic scales and sounds that evoke various sounds of nature. It is essentially vocal and folkloric, usually bard compositions, linked to pastoral life, the steppe and the horse (whose head adorns all instruments).
Mongolian diphonic (or harmonic) chanting, producing 2 or more sounds at the same time with the throat, is sometimes used for meditation.
In addition to traditional music, Western classical music and ballet flourished during the socialist state that ruled the country between 1924 and 1992.
Nepalese music is deeply linked to Indian music, sharing Hindu culture and various types of Indian folk music, particularly from Hindustan, with some regional variations due to the numerous ethnic groups that populate this small mountainous country. There is also an influence of Tibetan music on the religious music of Buddhist temples.
Dohori is the traditional Nepalese music, presented as a discussion between two groups of people, with songs sung with distinct rhythm and humor. Adhunik Geet, on the other hand, is nothing but popular music to “soothe the soul”.
Nepalese maithili music originated in the Mithila region, nowadays shared between India and Nepal. It is the oldest form of music in South Asia and is even said to have helped in the creation and emergence of other musical forms.
Although Norwegian music was ostracized for about 500 years by the rule of Denmark (from 1380 to 1700) and Sweden (from 1812 to 1905), its origins are now known thanks to the viking and medieval sagas, tales of pilgrims and archaeological artefacts (instruments like the lur, although the best known today is the hardingfele, similar to a violin).
Folklore is divided between a more Germanic type and the vocal tradition of the Sami people, known as joik. There are also herding calls (laling, lalning or lålning) used to communicate over long distances and lullaby (bånsull) songs which have been rediscovered lately.
In the 20th century more and more music is produced in cities, and opera and symphonic concert performances reach a high standard. Today there is a big scene of black metal, dance, electronic and rock music.
Hundreds of years of cultural miscegenation in Peru have formed a broad musical landscape, along with unique pre-Hispanic and mestizo dances to accompany the songs. Thus, Peruvian music is a fusion of sounds and styles based on its different roots: Andean (seen on wind instruments and the structure of melodies); Spanish (seen in harmonies and stringed instruments); and African (seen in rhythm and percussion instruments).
The oldest musical instruments were found in the city of Caral, wind instruments made with pelican bones. The Inca people used different types of drums (pomatinyas, wankara and tinya) and flutes (antaras and pinkullo).
Nowadays Peru’s national instrument is the charango, created during the colonial period, which has some variants: the walaycho, chillador, chinlili, and the “older brother” charangon.
Russian music has gone through a long history, starting with the ritual folk songs and the sacred music of the Russian Orthodox Church. During the nineteenth century Russian classical music gained international recognition, and throughout the twentieth century it became universally acclaimed thanks to the great contributions of various composers such as Igor Stravinsky and other Soviet composers.
Traditional music is composed of both popular songs from the romantic period (“Kalinka”, “Black Eyes”, “Kamarinskaya”) as well as varied and authentic forms of folklore, such as mourners or shamans. Considered proletarian, this music, a symbol of Russian identity, was preserved and placed at the forefront of the ideological struggle against the West by the Soviet regime.
Today Russia is a multiethnic state, with over 300 ethnicities living under one flag. Each of these ethnic groups has its own indigenous, sacred folklore and, in some cases, artistic music, which can be found under the guise of ethnic or folk music.
Thailand’s music reflects its geographical position between China and India and the trade routes that historically have traversed the region. This musical heritage is shared with Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, which in turn brought some influence in the Buddhist ceremonies, animist rituals and Brahmic ceremonies.
Traditional music is usually intended for court, worship or entertainment. The two main styles of folk music are luk thung and mor lam, closely linked to Laos music.
Thai traditional musical instruments are varied and reflect ancient influence from far away – including klong thap and khim (persian), jakhe (indian), klong jin (chinese) and klong kaek (indonesian).
Although Thailand was never colonized by the Western powers, pop music and other Western music have become very influential in the country. Nonetheless, the ethnic minorities of Laos, Hmong, Akha, Mien, Lisu, Karens and Lahu have managed to maintain their legacy and traditional music styles.
Throughout its history, Vietnam has been strongly influenced by the tradition musical of China and, to a lesser extent, by that of Korea, Mongolia and Japan.
Traditional music is highly diverse and syncretic, combining foreign and native influences from the country’s various minority ethnic groups. A good example of this is the imperial court music and dance (originally from the Trần dynasty in the 13th and 14th centuries), which has been highly synthesized and developed to this day. The theme of most of these dances is to wish the king longevity and wealth of the country.
Classical music is also played in honor of gods and scholars (such as Confucius) in temples. These categories are defined as Nhã Nhạc (“elegant music”, ritual and ceremonial music), Đại nhạc (“good music”) and Tiểu nhạc (“minor music”) which was chamber music for the king’s entertainment.
Introduced by American soldiers, rock and roll was very popular in Saigon during the Vietnam War. Over the past 10 years, metal has become increasingly popular in Vietnam.
Travel with The Wanderlust and discover the sounds of Mongolia, Nepal, Norway, Peru, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam. Then return to this page and confirm that your soundtrack is the same!