PLAYLIST - A list of varied and unique musical works from all over the world, when need to travel and fly away

A playlist by France Musique, using our own exclusive video archive of concert and studio recordings.

PLAYLIST - A list of varied and unique musical works from all over the world, when need to travel and fly away
PLAYLIST - A list of varied and unique musical works from all over the world, when need to travel and fly away, © Getty / Umkehrer

India: Anando Gopal Das Baul and the Sahajiya Baul Sampraday ensemble

First stop: eastern India! Bengal to be more precise... Mystic minstrels from West Bengal, the Bauls are said to live without borders, living beyond the Indian caste system, true nomads of the soul, sharing freely their culture and in particular their music, an essential part of the Baul tradition (added in 2005 to the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.) Performed using such instruments as the ektara, dotara, khamak, and the khol, the Baul music is unique in its genre, and distinct from the music of other Indian cultures. Born into a long line of followers of the Baul tradition, Anando Gopal Das Baul is today one of the most emblematic representatives of this cultural tradition and musical style of expression.

Mali: Abou Diarra & Donko Band

Next stop, Mali. The sounds of this West African country are encapsulated in the music of Abou Diara and his instrument, the n'goni. Nicknamed the "Jimi Hendrix" of the n'goni, Abou Diarra was trained by the legendary Vieux Kanté, a blind musical virtuoso. After travelling throughout West Africa on foot with only his instrument, discovering the traditional and more modern sounds of the land. Blended with his Malian influences are the more modern sounds of blues, jazz, and reggae music, creating a unique musical cocktail that speaks for an entire heritage. Close your eyes and feel the warmth of the Malian sun and the passing desert breeze.

Mali/France: Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Ségal - N'Kapalema

Let's stay in Mali for a bit, but with a touch of French influence (not that kind of French Touch). The unexpected combination of the traditional Malian kora and the cello produces a strangely elegant and soulful sonority, uniting the Malian virtuoso performer Ballaké Sissoko and the widely-influenced French cellist Vincent Ségal. An almost groovy work with an inescapably dancing rhythm, one can't help but be transported by these exotic yet strangely familiar sounds of N’kapalema, with its looping rhythm resembling a caravan of camels slowly crossing the Sahara, before arriving to the busy capital of Bamako. 

The unique sound of the kora combined with inventive and sensitive cello playing, drawing upon the two distinct musical traditions of West African troubadour songs and Western Baroque music, will undoubtedly take you to a place you have never seen before...

Japan: Etsuko Chida - Courtly Songs of Japan

And now for something completely different: Japan! Initially inspired in the 7th century by the Chinese sheng, the Japanese koto has since become Japan's national instrument, its sound immediately evocative of the country's culture and ancient traditions. Introduced into the country between the 7th and 8th centuries, during the Asuka period (538 to 710, one of great Chinese and Korean influence), the koto quickly became a staple instrument used in Japanese court music and other wealthy circles. The vocal tradition of _Jiuta (literally defined as "_song") was introduced during the Edo period (1600-1868) and increasingly assocaited with plucked string instruments such as the koto and the shamisen. 

Etsuko Chida, also known by her "natori" name Toyochi Eka, a professional stage name bestowed after her years of training, belongs to the long tradition of the Yamada School, one that has associated the jiuta tradition with the koto since the 8th century, choosing to replace the more commonly used shamisen. Simple yet hauntingly beautiful, the timbre of the koto and the harmonies of the vocal jiuta will take you far, far away.

Morocco: Oum - Lila

Back to Africa, but this time to the northern region of Morocco. The North-African city is a melting pot of countless cultural and notably musical influences from the various surrounding regions. The music of the singer Oum (el Ghait Benessahraoui) draws upon her Saharan origins and Moroccan musical influences, though it is infused with more modern influences including soul, jazz, and gospel music, combining the traditional Moroccan castanets known as “Krakebs” and the oud with Western instruments such as the trumpet, and the double bass. 

Mongolia: Morin tuvurguun (Gobi Rhapsody)

Mongolia: a country with a proud nomadic culture and a profound respect for horses. Unsurprisingly, one of the most traditional Mongolian musical instruments and symbol of the Mongolian nation, the Morin Khuur, is also known as the Horse Head Fiddle (due to the various legends of flying horses and horse spirits that surround its conception). The pegbox is shaped in the form of a horse's head, the instrument's tuning pegs are referred to as the "horse's ears", and the bow is traditionally made using horsehair. So strong is the instrument's connection to the horse that its distinctive sound is often described as being open and free like a wild horse, furthered by the distinctive galloping rhythms of traditional Mongolian music. Saddle up, it's time to ride!

Zimbabwe: Ambuya Tembo & Tendai Dzomba

There are few sounds more evocative of the African continent than that of the mbira, the "thumb piano" made of a wooden soundboard and metal tines plucked with the thumbs. Though the mbira is an African instrument found throughout the continent, it has played a particularly important role for the the Shona people of Zimbabwe for over a thousand years, both culturally and spiritually. Present in various Shona ceremonies, the music of the mbira is used for ancestor-worship, allowing the Shona people to connect with their ancestors, to communicate and ask for their guidance during spirit-possession ceremonies. The mbira is often accompanied by clapping, singing, and the hosho, a Zimbabwean percussion instrument made of maranka gourds with their seeds still inside.

Argentina: Chacarera d'Aujourd'hui - Argentine Sextet

It's time to cross the Atlantic and head to Argentina, land of the tango! However, there is another style of dance ubiquitous throughout Argentina that must not be overlooked: the Chacarera. A sultry and seductive dance from Santiago del Estero, this musical dance has become a folk and rural counterpart to the more urban and internationally-famed tango, a musical representation of Argentine "nativism" in reaction to increasing urbanisation and foreign cultural influences.

Though the chacarera often uses the typical sextet ensemble, similar to the tango genre, it varies from this latter genre by its harmonic shifts and varying syncopated rhythms, alternating between a duple 6/8 and triple 3/4 meter, traditionally marked by the use of a charango, a small Andean stringed instrument, or more commonly a guitar.  But let's forget the technical details for a moment... all that matters is the music, and this is one that speaks for itself: suave and swayful, it is irresistible!

Syria/Egypt: Naïssam Jalal & Hazem Shaheen - Nesma

Before we arrive at our final destination, a quick detour to the eastern Mediterranean coast, and more precisely the meditative and almost mystical music of Syria and Egypt. Combining more modern musical influences, notably jazz improvisation, tango, and rap, with the Arabic musical traditions of the Taqsim, the  Franco-Syrian flautist Naïssam Jalal and Egyptian oudist Hazem Shaheen (named "Best Oud Player in the Arab World" in 2002), have united to create a music that transcends borders to speak to all those in search of peace and freedom, regardless of origins.

Their album Liqaa, the Arabic word for "meeting", symbolises the meeting and fusion of two unique cultures, drawing upon the musical traditions of the Taqsim, a traditional Arabic musical improvisation centred upon a makam, a melodic structure that defines pitches much like the Western scale. However, the music that also looks ahead with more modern influences, a universal message of hope, a glimmering light far off that guides us forward.

Korea: Novus Quartet - "Arirang",  traditional Korean melody (arranged by Sung-Min Ahn)

We've arrived at our final destination: Korea, though with a familiar twist: Arirang arranged for string quartet. The tragic tale of two lovers, separated by the Auraji river, there are two versions of the famous Arirang, though unfortunately neither bodes well for the star-crossed lovers: the first depicts the couple separated by the river singing to express their sorrow, whereas in the second the man drowns trying to cross the river, singing the sorrowful song as he drowns. An old song of love and separation over 600 years old, Arirang is just as significant today, unknowingly echoing the 1945 division of the peninsula and its people. Considered the unofficial national anthem of Korea, the traditional Korean folk song was added in 2015 by South Korea to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a veritable symbol of Korean culture and its heritage 

"Just as there are many stars in the clear sky, There are also as many dreams in our heart."

Played by the Korean Novus Quartet, the performance is a moving musical tribute to the place we all call home, wherever that may be...