Lesson 1: Western Europe and the Nordic Countries–Genres of Music

Western Europe has the distinction of being home to the most popular music-makers of all time, from the almost super-human classical composers Beethoven, Bach and Mozart to the comparably brilliant Lennon and McCartney. For centuries Western European music accompanied Western European colonial powers on their march around the globe, often fusing with indigenous musics to form hybrids that over time became “indigenous” genres of their own.

In the meantime, Western Europe and the Nordic countries originated and nourished their own local and regional musical forms, from foot-stomping Irish-Celtic dance to Swedish hambo-polka (done in 3/4 time as opposed to most polkas’ 2/4), from mesmerizing Spanish flamenco to mystifying Finnish Sámi voik, from bounding German oom-pah to passionate Portuguese fado (which in and of itself is a mix of many Iberian, African and Brazilian influences), from Basque trikitrixa to the multi-facted Ottoman-influenced sound of Greece. The artists who create in these genres may not necessarily dominate the global recording industry, but they do appreciate the power of music that has cultural resonance far beyond the time even the most popular song takes to race up and down the charts.

Explore these genres of music from Western Europe and the Nordic Countries:
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