Major Types of Music From Around the World

, Staff Editor
Updated February 2, 2021
Word cloud of types of music around world
    Word cloud of types of music around world
    Created by Beth Wiggins for LoveToKnow

The world is filled with different types of music because it is filled with different kinds of people. From music genres to lists of music styles, discover how many types of music there are in the world.

Top Music Genres in the World

An exhaustive list of musical genres from around the world is nearly impossible to create because there is no universally accepted way of classifying types of music. However, these are the top recorded music genres in the world.

  • Classical
Woman playing violin classical music
    Woman playing violin classical music
    skynesher / E+ / Getty
  • Country
  • Electronic dance music (EDM)
  • Hip-hop
  • Indie rock
  • Jazz
  • K-pop
  • Metal
  • Oldies
  • Pop
  • Rap
  • Rhythm & blues (R&B)
  • Rock
Rock band performing on stage
    Rock band performing on stage
  • Techno

Major Types of African Music

African music can vary widely by region, but common instruments include drums, musical bows, xylophones, and rattles. Music and dance go together in many African cultures and help mark important life events while bringing communities together.

  • Afrobeats
  • Benga
  • Chimurenga
  • Ethio-jazz
  • Gnawa/ethno-pop/gwani blues
  • Highlife
  • Hiplife
  • Inkiranya
  • Juju
  • Majika
  • Mbalax
  • Ndombolo
  • Palm wine
  • Rababah
Man playing rebab instrument Egypt
    Man playing rebab instrument Egypt
    hadynyah / iStock / Getty Images Plus
  • Shaabi
  • Somali jazz
  • Soukou/Congolese rumba
  • Ubongo
  • Zilin
  • Zouglou

Major Types of Asian Music

Traditional Asian music includes a lot of flutes and pipes, drums, and unique stringed instruments. The traditional approach to music in many Asian countries was scientific, or methodical. Modern Asian pop music keeps the simplicity of traditional music, but adds modern appeal.

  • Baila
  • Bollywood
  • Carnatic
  • Chinese folk
  • Chinese traditional opera
  • C-pop
  • Dangdut
  • Gagaku court music
  • Goa trance
  • Hindustani
  • Japanese folk
  • J-pop
  • K-trot
  • Punjabi
  • Rafi
  • Raga rock
  • V-pop

Major Types of Caribbean Music

Caribbean music often features a mix of African and European music styles. The most popular instruments used in Caribbean music are drums and other percussion instruments and different types of guitars. Dance and music go hand-in-hand.

  • Calypso
  • Dancehall
  • Mambo
  • Mento
  • Merengue
  • Reggae
Raggae band music from Jamaica Caribbean
    Raggae band music from Jamaica Caribbean
    Lawrence Manning / Stone / Getty
  • Rocksteady
  • Salsa
  • Ska
  • Soca
  • Steel band music/pan music
  • Zouk

Major Types of European Music

Traditional European music is best exemplified by the classical music genre, as many noted classical musicians were from Europe. Modern European music incorporates a mix of influences from around the world.

  • A capella
  • Celtic chant
  • Drum & bass
  • Euro-disco
  • Flamenco
Flamenco dancer and guitarist
    Flamenco dancer and guitarist
    Hugh Sitton / Stone / Getty
  • Glitch pop
  • Grime
  • Opera
  • Polka
  • Trance

Major Types of Latin and South American Music

Popular and common types of music in Latin America and South America are often referred to as Latin music. Traditional and modern Latin music often feature upbeat tunes, are heavily influenced by a variety of cultures, and include complex rhythms.

  • Bachata
  • Balada
  • Bossa nova
  • Compas
  • Cumbia
  • Mariachi
Mariachi band music from Mexico
    Mariachi band music from Mexico
    cristianl / iStock / Getty Images Plus
  • Mexican
  • Mesitzo
  • Ranchera
  • Reggaeton
  • Samba
  • Tango
  • Vallenatto

Major Types of North American Music

Traditional American music and Canadian music features drums and simple instruments used by Native tribes. Modern American music incorporates influences from a variety of cultures.

  • American folk
  • Bluegrass
  • Blues
  • Canadian folk
  • Gospel
  • Industrial
  • Swing
  • Tejano
  • Zydeco

Music to Move You

There are thousands of types of music played around the world. You can learn more about specific types of music by learning about iconic musicians like Bob Marley or modern musicians like Rihanna. If you're looking to have some fun with music, explore some interesting music facts.