I'm a non-musician and am looking for a taxonomy of world music (meaning literally all world music, including Western and non-Western). I don't know if this is just the same as a list of world cultures, or if there is something more music specific, e.g. something that ethnomusicologist use.

For example, the Wikipedia entry on "world music" has the following under "examples":

Examples of popular forms of world music include the various forms of non-European classical music (e.g. Japanese and Chinese koto music, Indian raga music, Tibetan chants), Eastern European folk music (e.g. the village music of the Balkans, The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices), Nordic folk music and the many forms of folk and tribal music of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Oceania, Central and South America, and Indonesian music.

I'd like to find a full list of things like "Japanese and Chinese koto music," "Indian raga music," etc. Doesn't have to be so comprehensive that it includes every last known kind of music, but say the top 50 to 100 types that would be at least recognized by name by a typical ethnomusicologist.


A taxonomy of "world music" is quite different from "world cultures." As a first-world example, a detailed taxonomy of Scottish bagpipe music would contain several categories based on different types of music, different instruments, and solo or ensemble playing, but those divisions don't correspond to anything particularly "cultural" in modern Scotland. For example, if you went to a piping competition, you would most likely hear the different categories of music being played at different times by the same pipers in the same location and with the same audience.

Most large record companies have their own different taxonomies for recorded music, (and today there is very little music which has not been recorded and sold commercially by somebody!) as do large retailing companies like Amazon. These have several hundred categories, but AFAIK there is no "standard," and it's not hard to find academic papers proposing new taxonomies.

The situation is less anarchic for musical instruments, where the Hornbostel-Sachs taxonomy (with more than 300 categories) is widely used. This is based on the different methods of sound production of different instruments - but that is not correlated with "world culture," and not necessarily even correlated with the way the instruments are used in music-making.

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