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World music in its classic definition is a general categorical term for global music, such as the traditional music or folk music of a culture that is created and played by indigenous musicians and is closely related to the music of the regions of their origin. As a pure genre, world music's original intention is to distinguish a complete array of ethnic specificity, though a more globalized 21st century is fast expanding its categorical scope; evidenced by the necessity for less ethnically sterile, hybrid world music artists to be classified under less standardized sub-genres, such as World fusion, Global fusion, Ethnic fusion and Worldbeat (discussed in section 1.1 of this article). Though these terms may also be considered sub-genres of pop music, they lend to the perception of what defines the scope of world music today, which arguably extends beyond a sphere of discrete and pure ethnic music traditions, defined in the term roots music. World music is inherently one of the broadest music genres, steadily evolving new branch categories, via the discoverable application in its depth and diversity.
The term has been credited to ethnomusicologist Robert E. Brown, who coined it in the early 1960s at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where he developed undergraduate through doctoral programs in the discipline. To enhance the process of learning, he invited more than a dozen visiting performers from Africa and Asia and began a world music concert series. The term became current in the 1980s as a marketing/classificatory device in the media and the music industry, and it is generally used to classify any kind of non-Western music.
There are several conflicting definitions for world music. One is that it consists of "all the music in the world", though such a broad definition renders the word virtually meaningless. The term also is taken as a classification of music that combines Western popular music styles with one of many genres of non-Western music that were previously described as folk music or ethnic music. However, world music is not exclusively traditional folk music. It may refer to the indigenous classical forms of various regions of the world, and to modern, cutting edge pop music styles as well. Succinctly, it can be described as "local music from out there", or "someone else's local music". It is a very nebulous genre term with an increasing number of naturally occurring sub-genres that fall under the umbrella of world music to capture musical trends of combined ethnic style and texture, including Western elements (examples noted in this section).
World music may incorporate distinctive non-Western scales, modes and/or musical inflections, and often features distinctive traditional ethnic instruments, such as the kora (West African harp), the steel drum, the sitar or the didgeridoo.
Music from around the world exerts wide cross-cultural influence as styles naturally influence one another, and in recent years world music has also been marketed as a successful genre in itself. Academic study of world music, as well as the musical genres and individual artists with which it has been associated, can be found in such disciplines as anthropology, folkloristics, performance studies and ethnomusicology.
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