The Diversity of Asian Music

Asia is divided into five main regions: Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and West Asia. Each one of these regions is home to several countries which all feature distinct, unique musical trends. Throughout the centuries, history has shaped the formation of music in each Asian country. Instead of referring to Asian music as a whole today, we now refer more specifically to each country: i.e. Thai music, Chinese Music, or Mongolian music.

Central Asian countries include Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Uzbekistan. Modern Afghan music spreads from religious Muslim songs to classical tunes and lyrical music sung in Persian. The music of Afghanistan tends to very similar to what one might find in other dominantly Muslim countries. Mongolia is known for having music be a core-part of the country. In fact, the Mongolians are known for their long songs and horse-headed fiddles. Kazakhstan has been very much influenced by the former Soviet Union and current Russia. Hence, the music of this country leans heavily towards classical expertise. Finally, Uzbekistan is a mix of classical and pop rock, folk songs and traditional music from the west of the country.

East Asia is home to China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. Although much of the East Asian music is similar in style, these four countries cannot be grouped together in the musical world. Chinese cultural music is divided into many regions to the point that it would be difficult to explain them all. Traditional Japanese music is calm and follows no specific beat. The music of Korea follows both the folk and court styles and is typically based on Buddhist beliefs. Taiwan is a melting pot of cultures and therefore is home to many different types of music. All four of these countries have been greatly influenced by Western culture in recent years and are now known for pop and rock music as well as the traditional cultural music.

South Asian music is typically based on Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism as these are the main religions in the countries of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. India has been influenced quite a bit by Western culture and is also known for its pop and rock music. Overall, however, the music in South Asia is religious and very traditional in beat and form.

Southeast Asian music spans over ten countries and is again quite diverse in nature. With such cultural diversity within this region, there are literally hundreds of different types of music. The same goes for the music is Western Asia, although these musical types tend to be much more Arabic and African in form.

Asian music is so culturally diverse that a comprehensive study of the hundreds of types of music, beats used, instruments played, and composers known would take a lifetime to complete.

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