Glossary of World Music Terms  
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balafon: a xylophone from Mali; original instrument of the jali

bomba: African-derived music and dance from coastal regions of Puerto Rico

caja/cajon: a box-shaped percussion instrument made of wood

capoeria: an Afro-Brazilian martial arts dance using acrobatic movement

cheres: a wide armored belt worn by men in the Carpathian Mountains

cimbalom: a stringed instrument related to the hammered dulcimer of Western Europe; also known as the tsimbl

cumbia: rhythmically mid-tempo song and dance popular in Colombia

cumbiamba: a traditional open-air party in Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region

djembe: goblet shaped hand drum; perhaps the most popular drum from Africa

didgeridoo: an Australian aboriginal trumpet made from a eucalyptus branch; also used in Haitian music

doli: a widespread percussion instrument from the country of Georgia; made of a small wooden cylinder which is covered by leather

dumbek: a goblet shaped hand drum used in Arabic, Turksish & Balkan music

festejo: a festive Afro-Peruvian dance with a complex 6/8 rhythmic structure

güiro: a percussion instrument from Cuba and Puerto Rico made of a hollowed-out gourd and played with a scraper

hora: a popular Jewish folk dance performed in a hand-held circle

klezmer: instrumental music of the Jews of Eastern Europe

jali: oral historian, musician and storyteller from the Mandinka culture of western Africa; also known as griot

kayagum: a Korean zither with movable bridges

kora: a stringed harp-lute from West Africa made from a gourd

lando: a slow, elegant Afro-Peruvian dance performed to a rhythm of the same name

mapalé: perhaps one of the purest African rhythms found in Colombia; an up-tempo rhythm played and danced at an incredibly fast speed for long periods of time

maculêlê: an Afro-Brazilian dance using sticks and machetes which imitates the cutting of sugar cane

maqam: a melodic modal system based on characteristic quarter tones scales

merengue: folk and popular music of the Dominican Republic played in a fast 2/4 meter

nay: an end-blown flute; from the Farsi for “reed”

ngoni: a plucked lute from West Africa

niggunim: mystical melodies associated with Hasidic Judaism

oud: a short-necked, fretless, plucked lute of the Arab world; the direct ancestor of the European lute

pandereta: a handheld drum from Puerto Rico with stretched animal skins covering a round wooden frame

panduri: a fretted string instrument from the country of Georgia

plena: song form of Puerto Rico using frame drums and improvised lyrics of social and political commentary; also known as the “sung newspaper”

puya: song and dance form related to the cumbia of Colombia, although slightly faster rhythmically

qanun: a predecessor of the harp and piano; often referred to as the Arabic or Turkish zither

salamuri: an ancient wind instrument from the country of Georgia

samba de roda: a spontaneous dance from Brazil that is performed in a circle and has roots in Angola

son: popular song style of Cuba characterized by string accompaniment of guitar and percussion

timbales: mid-sized Afro-Cuban drums played with sticks; popular throughout Latin music

uilleann pipes: bellows-driven bagpipe of Ireland

vallenato: a form of dance music from Colombia’s Atlantic coast traditionally played with accordion and caja

yangqin: a Chinese version of the hammered dulcimer

zamacueca: an Afro-Peruvian couples dance once censored because of its sensual movements

 
 
     
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