Top 5 World Music Destinations

Wherever we go in the world there is always music.  Whether it’s a kid with an iPod plugged into his ear on the subway in New York or a chicken bus blaring out tunes as it cruises through the streets of Managua, you can’t escape music.  The thing is, however, well you can find music everywhere, some countries certainly have it better than others.  After a long trip in the Andes of South America, for example, if I heard another pan-flute being played, I’m sure I would smash it under the hearty weight of my foot.  These destinations below certainly don’t suffer, however.  These are my top 5 world music destinations.

5. America

It might seem like a bit of a strange choice at first, but when you look at music in America, it’s as varied and strong as anywhere in the world.  You have mo-town, jazz, rock, country and everything in between.  I’m positive there isn’t a more diverse music scene anywhere in the world.  The top music destinations with America are New York, Chicago, Nashville, Austin and New Orleans.

Best World Music, New Orleans

4. France

If you’re like me the thought of someone playing an accordion makes you cringe.  However, place that accordion along the banks of a river at a tiny cafe in France and it turns to pure bliss.  Moreover, if you’re a jazz lover you’ll find plenty of small bars tucked away down a quiet street playing some of this great stuff.  France is a bit of an “old” music destination, but that certainly doesn’t make it any less important.

3. Puerto Rico

Although the country of Panama started the whole Reggaeton trend, it was the island of Puerto Rico that perfected it.  Artists like Daddee Yankee and Pitbull are now heard around the world busting their chops on the loud blend of rock meets hip hip meets reggae.  And while most in the world have heard these artists, the true gold is found in the country’s musicians that are lesser known internationally.  While some call Reggaeton obnoxious, there is no music that is better at getting stuck in your head and the girls on the dance floor than this Caribbean beat.

Best World Music

2. Cuba

When most people think of Cuba they may think of Fidel Castro, Che Guevera or communism.  However, anyone who has visited the Spanish-speaking Caribbean island will know that Cuba is all about music.  You’re not going to find music tuition books in Cuba, this stuff comes right from the soul of the people.  Salsa is the big sound on the island although you’re also likely to hear a host of other Latin beats such as bachata and the occasional meringue.

Best World Music, Mali

1. Mali

Bet you didn’t expect to see Mali at the top of the list for best world music destination did you?  The truth is, however, that the country is absolutely brimming with great music.  Inspired by sounds of the desert as well as western and Cuban music, Malian sounds are some of the most powerful on the planet.  They have an edge to them and the Malian people love to get up and have a dance to the beats as well.  Check out the musician Baba Salah for a quick sample!

Author: Brendan van Son

Brendan van Son, the Editor-in-Chief at Vagabundo Magazine, is a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. He is currently exploring West Africa while working on the "It's My Life 365" project. Brendan's work has been featured across the world in both press and on a variety of online productions.

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Top 5 World Music Destinations