It often still amazes me just how many different styles of music there are to listen to and how music varies from country to country. When you think about how many variants of scales you find and look at just how many different and unusual instruments there are all over the world, it’s hard not to be awed by what human beings have created. Music transcends almost every barrier of language and location, allowing us to communicate with one another in a way that normal conversation doesn’t always permit.

However listening to a style of music that differs from the realms of our usual tastes can be a daunting experience for some.

Music to be part of the in-crowd

When I was a secretive and self-obsessed 16 year old, music was merely a tool for social advancement. You had to be listening to what the majority of other students were listening to, or you just weren’t a part of the in-crowd. You were one of the outcasts. You were one of the small groups being ignored or made fun of by everyone else. In those years, when i had my eyes glued to the newest and most popular hits on the television of a Saturday morning and my ears glued to the most popular radio station while I was supposed to be doing my homework, it never even occurred to me that it was possible to listen to and enjoy a piece of music in another language. Confronted by the possibility then, I might have exclaimed, ‘but how am I supposed to understand it!’

The truth is is that there is more to appreciate in a song than just the lyrics and a chorus you can sing loudly along with. There is texture, emotion, movement and instrumentation – and none of these have anything whatsoever to do with understanding what the person is actually singing about.

My journey towards a love of world music has taken me many years. However I am grateful for the open mind that I have now.

So for all of you who are new to world music, I offer up these humble listening recommendations, in the hope that you can find something to inspire you to do some of your own exploration.

Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté
“In the Heart of the Moon”

(Nonesuch / World Circuit Records, 2005)

This 2005 album brings together 2 extraordinary musicians from Mali who had previously played together for no more than 3 hours in 15 years. Ali Farka Touré plays the guitar and provides a smattering of vocals while Toumani Diabaté displays his breathtaking skill with the west African harp-like instrument called the Kora.

It’s hard to believe when listening to the resultant recording, but Touré and Diabaté had not previously rehearsed the 12 songs they recorded. Both insist that the music flowed naturally between them.

The album is an effortless listen. The gentle rolling guitar rhythms are the perfect backdrop for the flitting and darting melodies of the Kora. In many ways it really does resemble a river of music. Each track flowing with ease into the next.

It’s an album I constantly return to and it never fails to bring me to a place of calm and tranquility.

Just take a listen to my favourite track and see where it takes you.

The very best thing about this album, is that it’s not the only album Touré and Diabaté have recorded together, so if you fall in love with it, there is more where that came from.

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About The Author

Collaborator - RREVERB

Singer-songwriter Galileo Griffin has travelled the world collecting all kinds of music along the way. Originally from Australia, she now resides in Stockholm, Sweden, where she presents a weekly world music radio programme and haunts various concerts, open mic nights and jam sessions in this creative city. She has a passion for music of all kinds and can find something to appreciate in almost every genre from classical to pop. She joins the RREVERB team to share her enthusiasm for one of the few artforms that knows no borders and speaks all languages.