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  • Chris Anderson

Music Revision - World Music - European Music

Native European music encompasses the diverse and culturally rich musical traditions of the indigenous peoples of Europe. These traditions vary widely from one region to another, reflecting the distinct cultural, historical, and linguistic backgrounds of different European ethnic groups.


  • The fiddle (violin) is a central instrument in this tradition, and it's often played with distinctive ornamentation and technique.

  • Accordion and harmonica are also common instruments.

  • Folk dances include the waltz, polska, and reinlender.

  • The influence of the ancient Norse sagas can be heard in the storytelling elements of the lyrics.

  • Irish traditional music features instruments like the tin whistle, uilleann pipes, and bodhrán (drum).

  • In Scotland, the bagpipes, fiddle, and Highland pipes are significant instruments.

  • Celtic music often involves lively jigs and reels, as well as mournful ballads.

  • Traditional Celtic vocal styles include sean nós singing in Ireland and puirt à beul in Scotland.

Eastern European Folk Music:

  • Russian folk music often includes balalaikas, domras, and the accordion.

  • Balkan folk music features various regional instruments, like the gaida (bagpipe) in Bulgaria and the kaval (flute) in Greece.

  • Dances such as the kalinka in Russia and the čoček in the Balkans are integral to the music.

Mediterranean Folk Music:

  • Greek folk music incorporates the bouzouki, baglamas, and various percussion instruments.

  • Spanish folk music features the guitar, castanets, and the cajón (percussion box).

  • Italian folk music includes the tamburello (tambourine) and the accordion.

  • The tarantella is a popular Italian folk dance with a fast tempo.

Gypsy (Romani) Music:

  • Romani music is known for its virtuosic instrumental performances, particularly on the violin and accordion.

  • The genre often features passionate and expressive vocal styles.

  • The Romani musical tradition has heavily influenced other European musical styles, such as Hungarian and Russian music.

Basque Music:

  • Basque music often includes unique instruments like the txalaparta (a wooden xylophone) and the alboka (a double-reeded instrument).

  • Traditional Basque singing, known as bertsolaritza, is highly respected and serves as a form of improvised poetry.

  • Choral singing is a significant part of Baltic folk music, and large-scale Song and Dance Celebrations are held in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

  • Traditional Baltic instruments include the kokle (a type of zither) and the dūdas (bagpipes).

  • In regions influenced by Mongol culture, throat singing is a unique vocal technique.

  • The morin khuur, a traditional two-stringed instrument, is commonly used in Mongol music.

  • Shamanic rituals play a role in the music of some indigenous peoples in these areas.

  • Sámi music often features the Sámi drum, a frame drum with a mesmerising, rhythmic quality.

  • Joik, the traditional singing style of the Sámi, is characterised by repetitive, melodic patterns and serves as a form of storytelling and cultural expression.


These are just a few examples of the rich and diverse native European music traditions that reflect the cultural heritage, history, and identity of various European regions and peoples. Each tradition has its unique characteristics, instruments, and styles, contributing to the colourful tapestry of European music.

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