'Niche' music genres/scenes

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SSwans2011

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'Niche' feels like a wank term, but I'd been wanting to start a thread like this for ages. Feels like a good way to introduce people to entire, potentially untapped, areas of music that we might never have come across.

Over the past few years, I've been increasingly getting into styles of music from songs or albums I've haphazardly stumbled across. Although there's quality websites out there that can be quite helpful, it can still be a daunting task uncovering the gems, so I'm hoping this thread can be used as a neat entry point into musical scenes and history that people haven't ever tapped into.

I have a few in mind, but for starters, I've gotten quite into the music of the Mandé people. RateYourMusic provides this neat run-down of Mandé music.
Mande music encompasses the diverse musical forms of the Mande peoples, a group of West African ethnic groups who speak any of the Mande languages. Some of the largest Mande ethnic groups are the Mandinka, the Maninka, the Bambara, and the Soninke.

Mande society is traditionally caste-based, with the musician caste known variously among Mande groups as jeli or jali. Their role was to act as historians, storytellers, advisors, and arbitrators, and to preserve Mande history and traditions through their music. The main instruments associated with jeli are the kora, a 21-string harp, the balafon, a wooden xylophone, and the n'goni, a small lute.
This album (which contains a song that JoshWoodenSpoon was robbed of a Song Contest victory after nominating) has grown to be one of my all-time favourites:



And here's a few other choice selections:

 
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Over the past few years, I've been increasingly getting into styles of music from songs or albums I've haphazardly stumbled across.
I'm very similar. Go on a bit of a "genre bender" for want of a better term after hearing something that catches my ear.

I do use one website to cheat a little - https://musicroamer.com/player#

On the stuff you've posted, I have by chance been listening to a bit of world music recently. Have come across some tracks I like though have barely skimmed the surface. Some African / Middle Eastern sounds here:

Channeling Ituri forest chants, Javanese gamelan, Bedouin plaints, Rajasthani folk, and European electronic music, Horowitz dances around borders and eras to spellbinding effect.


From Zambia (was on Ted Lasso)



From Ethiopia:



From Mali:



From Nigeria:



From Lebanon:

 

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SSwans2011

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The other big rabbithole I've gone down recently is Hindustani classical music. The dedication of Hindustani classical musicians to their craft is unreal, as you will see in a few anecdotes in the recommendations that follow. Similar to Mande musicians, it is the cultural role of many of these musicians to share their cultural heritage and tradition through music, and many of them will spend essentially their entire day practicing their craft.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is one of the greats. He was a Pakistani singer that specialised in the Qawwali vocal style, which is essentially a high-energy performance style of Sulfi Muslim poetry that aims to elicit a state of religious ecstasy. My mate told me that NFAK (or it might have been his nephew RFAK, forget which) stated in an interview that he would often piss himself while practicing. He would essentially sit down at the start of the day, start singing, and when he would open them up again, it would be dark, and he hadn't even realised he'd pissed himself because he was so blissed out and enraptured in the music. He has a daunting amount of quality music out there, but here's a couple of choice cuts from a couple of magical albums.




Speaking of commitment to one's craft, Ustad Saami is another Qawwali vocalist, and the last living vocal practitioner of an ancient 49-note microtonal Surti scale. For years, Ustad was forbidden from speaking, and only allowed to communicate through song. His album 'Pakistan is for the Peaceful' from last year was stunning.



I have plenty more Hindustani classical to come, but while I'm on the topic of vocalists (granted, I've got a few others I'd like to shout-out at some point), I will round this post out with one of my all-time favourite albums of any genre, this absolute masterpiece by flutist Hariprasad Chaurasia and Khyal vocalist Kishori Amonkar. Just pure bliss.


I'm very similar. Go on a bit of a "genre bender" for want of a better term after hearing something that catches my ear.
Great stuff, keen to check these out. Gamelan is a ******* good instrument. I want to find more quality gamelan albums.
 

SSwans2011

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I have a few in mind, but for starters, I've gotten quite into the music of the Mandé people. RateYourMusic provides this neat run-down of Mandé music.


This album (which contains a song that JoshWoodenSpoon was robbed of a Song Contest victory after nominating) has grown to be one of my all-time favourites:



And here's a few other choice selections:

 

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