Identify World Music Terms



Rebab: It is a fiddle with two strings. It’s mainly found within Muslim nations.

Gambang: Is an instrument that resembles a xylophone. It’s made of wood and is commonly used in the Southern Philippines and Indonesia.

Suling: A bamboo flute used by Indonesians in gamelan ensembles.

Kendang: A traditional Indonesian music instrument that comes in a set of four. Used both as a cultural symbol and for music performance.


Gamelan: A set of Indonesian musical instruments including drums, gongs and xylophones.

Laras: Gamelan tuning system that literally means harmony.

Colotomic Structure: where established time intervals are marked off using specified music instruments.

Gongan: A section of piece found separating successive gong strokes.

Bubaran: a formal structure used to refer to the Javanese gedhing; referring to “16 beats per gongan” (Titon 312).

Wayang Kulit: Combination of entertainment, ritual and lesson.

Karawitan: Javanese based vocal music present in Laras.

Dalang: A puppeteer responsible for coordinating the puppet movements with music.

Gamelan Gambuh: An ancient musical ensemble used to accompany gambuh (a dance-drama).

Gamelan Gong Gede: It means a gamelan that’s large gongs. Used in public ceremonies.

Gamelan Semar Pegunligan: Refers to very beautiful music orchestras in Bali.

Gender Wayang: It’s a set of four instruments that conventionally accompanies Bali’s puppet plays.

Gamelan Gong Kebyar: Modern style of Bali’s music. Its basis is a scale of five tones.

Kotekan: It’s a style where parts that interlock are played in numerous types of Balinese music.

Trompong: A Balinese gong chime that is horizontal and in a single row. One individual plays it.

Gamelan Angklung: It’s Angklung’s ensemble. Used in temple anniversaries to provide musical accompaniment especially to anniversaries taking place in the temple. It’s used in an orchestra with four – key metallophones. It is from the bamboo shakers that it gets its name although, lately, most of its compositions lack them. It can operate on either 4-tone or 5 – tone modes.

Kecak: It is a music drama from Bali that came about since 1930s. Men are its main performers. However, women have also been performing since 2006.

Barong: It’s a dance that has a high preference among tourists. It involves a great display of brilliant colors and well coordinated movements. It has a scared connotation and is also played during religious occasions.

Gambus: It denotes a certain orchestra and the music played by it. It is popular with Indonesian Arabs.

Dangdut: A dance music whose main star is Elviy Sukaesih.

Kroncong: A kind of music that has been evolving for years. In the past, it has been used by the Portuguese, Indonesians and the Japanese soldiers.

Jaipongan: A dance music with a complex rhythm. It’s popular with western Java’s Sundanese people.



Mbira: Music played by the Zimbabwean Shona people. It’s played on a traditional instrument – mbira. Like other African songs, it’s rhythmic. It’s characterized by repetition.

Balo: An instrument of music, common among the West Africa’s Mandinka people. Comprises of gourds mounted with wooden pieces. It’s xylophonic.

Kora: Comprises of a semi calabash covered with skin that forms a resonator. Its notched bridge makes it resemble a guitar or flute. Whereas traditional koras have 21 strings, the modern one comprises of 25 strings.

Kotingo: A plucked lute with five strings.


Donkilo: Is of Mandinka origin and it’s both the song and music.

Sataro: It is part of Kora music with a singing style that has been modified and is declamatory.

Birimintingo: It’s part of the Kora music. The interludes of its instruments have been modified.

Kumbengo: An Ostinato type of instrument that is short in appearance. Ostinato is Bira: A musical event among the Shona people. It’s normally family sponsored.

Lamellaphone: A musical instrument with lamellae (bamboo or tuned metal tongues) of different length connected to a soundboard on one end. For increased resonance, they can be played insides bowls and gourds. Popular in Zimbabwe and the neighboring countries.

Interlocking: An instrumental style that is common in both the Eastern and Southeastern parts of Africa. An example is the ng’oma drumming in Tanzania by the gogo women.

Call-and-Response: The music of the Eastern Woodlands uses it a distinctive style. It’s prominent in dance songs. After the soloist gives a short melody, the dancers answer back in unison.

Ostinato: a bass pattern that is repetitive. Produced by African instruments

Hocket: Aerophones that are lip vibrated. Are made from diverse materials. Used for both musical and non-musical purposes.

Pygmy: Type of music from the Pigmies who live in Congo and Cameroon. Pygmy songs are played on instruments like limbindi and bow harp. Water drumming and liquindi is the song style.

Jali: Kind of African music with varying meanings. It’s used widely as music of: the state, of people, African roots and cosmopolitanism.

Nyamalo: A group from sub-Saharan Africa that is ethnolinguistic and musical.

Sula: used in music to refer to people in urban occupations. The people are ordinary in nature.

Latin America


Guitarron: It’s similar to a guitar. Its audibility is enhanced by its large size. In small venues, it does not need to be electrically amplified.

Kenas: Historical vertical cane fluits that are end notched.

Requinto: A small musical guitar whose use is dominant in Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Spain.

Jaranas: A Mexican five – course guitar whose size is smaller compared to the normal guitar.

Huapanguera: A type of Mexican guitar used as Conjunto’s ensemble.

Marimba: An orchestral xylophone that is modern and manufactured commercially. It has full resonance.

Bajo sexton: A guitar with 12 strings used as part of Conjunto Nortenos.

Siku: Are panpipes that are often played by men.

Cajas: Frame drum used mainly in Spain. At times, it has a snare.


Capoeira: A music dance that was devised from a martial arts style. It’s a creation of the runaway slaves of Brazil. According to capoeira, the speed of the game, style and rhythm are all set by the Music.

Tango: ballroom music for dancing. A sextet is used to play it.

Mestizo: Music of Mexican origin. However, it’s growth has been a result of the interaction between different cultures.

Huayno: Music and dance from Andean countries. Several instruments are used to accompany high pitched vocals. Such instruments are the guitar, lute and saxophone.

Orquesta tipica: Band that plays music that’s popular.

Sesquialtera: Refers to reducing note values in the ratio 3:2.

Hemiola: “Where six pulses can be grouped either in two groups of there or in three groups of two, creating the hemiola ratio” (Friedson 198).

Marinera: A mestizo song and dance. Used as a couple’s dance on social occasions.

Yaravi: A slow mestizo song with lyrics. Mainly associated with Arequipa city.

Son: Is a Cuban derived genre for Salsa.

Other Important Terms

Jarocho Ensemble: comprises of a wooden harp with 32-36 strings, a frame drum, jarana and requinto.

Huasteca Ensemble: A group from Mexico that features violin and two guitar types.

Mariachi: Musical ensembles that are enchanting and exciting located in any part of the world

Cunjunto Nortenos: Refers to Indigenous and rural Mexican Music.

Works Cited

Friedson, Steven. Dancing prophets: musical experience in Tumbuka healing. London: University of Chicago Press, 1996. 15 May 2011.

Titon, Jeff. Worlds of music: an introduction to the music of the world’s peoples. Belmont: Cengage Learning, 2008. 14 May 2011.

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