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7 unique musical genres to sample this World Music Day

Whether it’s boosting our mood threefold, hitting us with nostalgia and throwing us back into a special moment in time – music holds a special power. And since it’s World Music Day (21 June 2022), there’s no better time to celebrate music’s impact on countries, cultures and individual lives.

What is World Music Day?

World Music Day (‘Fête de la Musique’) was created by the Ministry of Culture in France in 1982 to celebrate the wonder gift of music, promote musicians and make music accessible to all. Today it’s celebrated worldwide as musicians of all abilities perform in the streets, concerts are held and parties thrown.

Genres from across the world to discover this World Music Day

From soul-stirring Portuguese fado to the body-shaking Brazilian samba, it’s time to invite these fascinating musical genres to the stage.

Portuguese Fado

As you stroll down Portugal’s facade-clad streets, your ears will notice the slow-moving, melancholic sounds of fado. Originating in 1820’s Lisbon, fado is the pride of Portuguese music. Full of bitter-sweet feeling, a musician (or musicians) use guitar, violas and voice to sing about the realities of life and create a saudade –feelings of longing and nostalgia. As a result, fado can conjure up memories of long lost lovers, hopeful anticipation for the future and/or other emotions, unique to the listener. To start: we recommend you listen to the ‘Queen of Fado’ Amelia Rodrigues and visit the fado museum in Alfama, Lisbon.

RELATED CONTENT: The story of Fado: Everything you need to know about Portuguese music

French Chanson

Translating to ‘‘French songs’, chanson française is the music of France. It rose to fame in music halls and cabaret shows in the early-to-mid 20th century for its striking, meaningful ballads. Iconic songs like Édith Piaf’s ‘La Vie en rose’ (1946) have immortalised chanson and deeply ingrained it in French culture. For example, did you known Édith Piaf’s funeral in 1963 is the only event to stop traffic in Paris since World War II? Travellers should pair their French exploring with the music of chanson legends like Edith Piaf, Sophia Delila, Charles Aznavour and Joe Dassin in their ear. Or deeply regret it.

Brazilian Samba

Born in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas in the early 20th century, samba remains the beating heart of Brazilian music. In fact: that’s even a dedicated national holiday to samba on 2nd December each year: Samba Day. Using pepinique drums, a cavaquinho, pandeiro and percussion instruments, we promise just one note is enough to get your body moving. It ranges from slow samba to big festival beats full of fast, feel-good rhythms. And if you’re new to samba, head to a Carnival Parade in any of Brazil’s states to shake those hips in the sunshine.


Born out of 1970’s, afrobeat is a mix of African music – Nigerian Yoruba and Ghanian highlife – and American soul and jazz. Expect big bands, chanted vocals, intersecting rhythms, percussion and improvisation. The result is jazzy, funky and soul sounds that’ll have you tapping your feet within seconds. Funnily enough, that’s all it will take your afrobeat addiction to begin


Korean Pop (‘K-Pop’) is an obsession in both Korea and across the world. Especially in the United States, Indonesia, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Thailand and more. Addictive pop beats, catchy (relatable) lyrics and eye-catching bands with dance routines are K-Pop specialities. So if you’re new here: listen to BTS (pictured above), EXO, Girls’ Generation and BLACKPINK.

Southwestern country music

country music

Country music remains the sound of the United States’ southwest. East Tennessee is recognised as ‘The Birthplace of Country Music’ by US Congress thanks to recording sessions there in 1927 by Jimmie Rodgers and Carter Family. A mix of folk songs, African American blues and church music is mastered using guitars, banjos and fiddles. This makes for charming music ranging from ballads to ‘Honky Tonky’ dance tones. To feel the history, travellers must visit ‘The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’ in Nashville. And listen to John Denver, George Strait, Tim McGraw, Johnny Cash and Carrie Underwood.

GET INSPIRED BY: Tastes and Sounds of the American South (Trafalgar tour)

Irish Folk

A visit to Ireland is complete without traditional Irish music, also known as ‘Irish folk’. Born approximately 2000 years ago when the Celts arrived into Ireland, it was then an oral tradition (learned by ear) and past down between generations. Today, lyrics are written and the songs are known for their upbeat, isometric and feel-good feels. Normally created with the fiddle, flute, harp, whistle and Uilleann pipes.

One step into one of Ireland’s Guinness-filled pubs hits you with the pumping Irish music and dance scene. It’s also a staple feature at weddings, concerts, country dances, St Patrick’s Day parties and the Fleadh Cheoil (world’s largest celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance). New here? Stick on Dubliners, The Cranberries and The Chieftains to get you started.

GET INSPIRED BY: Irish Experience tour

Which genres are you listening to this World Music Day? Tell us in the comments below.

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