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Music

Exploring music of BRICS countries

The rhythms and melodies that unite BRICS nations


Music is a universal language that unites people from different cultures, backgrounds and borders. From melodic and rhythmic African songs to energetic and colourful Brazilian sambas, each country has its own musical style that reflects its history, traditions and values.

Within the BRICS group of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE we dive into a musical journey to explore the diversity and richness of the sounds of these countries.

Brazil: the land of samba

Brazil is known for its vibrant music scene that has captivated the world for decades. 

The country is home to samba, a musical genre and energetic dance style that encapsulates the joy and passion of the Brazilian people. 

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The streets of Rio de Janeiro come alive with the frenetic rhythms of samba during the famous Carnival, a colourful and extravagant celebration that attracts millions of people every year. In addition to samba, Brazil has also given the world bossa nova, a smooth and melodic musical genre that fuses elements of samba and jazz, epitomised by legendary artists such as Joao Gilberto and Tom Jobim.

Russia: from classical to traditional folk music

Russia has a rich musical heritage ranging from classical music to traditional folklore. Composers such as Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich have left an enduring legacy in the world of classical music with their symphonic masterpieces and iconic ballets. 

In addition, Russian folk music, with its emotive melodies and poetic lyrics, has been passed down from generation to generation, capturing the essence of the Russian soul and its vast landscape.

India: the enchantment of classical music and Bollywood

Music is an integral part of Indian culture, and the country is known for its rich musical traditions dating back thousands of years. Indian classical music, both Hindustani in the north and Carnatic in the south, is appreciated for its spiritual depth and technical complexity. 

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On the other hand, Bollywood, the world's largest film industry, has popularised Indian music globally with its catchy songs and elaborate choreography that combine elements of traditional Indian music with contemporary influences.

Venkatesh Kumar Govindaswaminathan, an expert in film production, highlighted the influence of ancient music, which is believed to have played a key role in the development of the language.

"Music always reflects the soul of a country. Ancient music in India played a vital role in the development of language. Legends say that it was the ancient instrument "yazh" and the sound it emitted paved the way for languages and people living in certain regions started using these peculiar sounds to communicate with each other and thus the language "Tamil" was formed"

Venkatesh Kumar Govindaswaminathan Film production expert

China: the beauty of traditional and modern music

China has a musical history that spans millennia, from the ancient melodies of the Zhou dynasty to contemporary music influenced by global pop culture.

In recent decades, it has experienced a significant boom in modern and pop music, with artists such as Jay Chou and Faye Wong combining traditional elements with contemporary influences. This fusion of ancient and modern illustrates the adaptability and creativity of Chinese music, allowing new generations to appreciate the beauty of their musical heritage while exploring new artistic expressions.

South Africa: enveloping rhythms and inspiring voices

South Africa is a land of musical diversity, reflecting the country's rich mix of cultures and traditions. From the infectious rhythms of kwaito and gqom to the soulful harmonies of the indigenous music genre known as “mbube”. 

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South African music is a vibrant expression of national identity. In addition, South African artists such as Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela have taken their music to the world stage, inspiring people everywhere with their talent and message of hope.

The countries of the Middle East and North Africa also have rich and diverse musical traditions.

Egypt: Arab classical traditions and pop music

Egypt is known for its long musical traditions, dating back to the time of the pharaohs. The country is renowned for its classical Arabic music and modern pop music. Among the characteristic instruments of this country are the oud and the kanun, which are used in the traditional musical genre of tarab.

Modern Egyptian pop music and the shaabi genre are also popular. Performers such as Umm Kulsoom, Abdel Halim Hafez and Amr Diab are well-known among the audience at large. Currently, Egyptian music is adopting elements of the Western tradition.

Ethiopia: jazz and history in music

Ethiopian music is renowned for its complex rhythmic patterns. It reflects the millennial history of the people of this country, weaving together Arabic and African elements.

Music lovers appreciate Ethiopian jazz – soft, languid and infinitely sad. Artists such as Mulatu Astatke and Alemayehu Eshete are the leading figures of the golden era of this trend, which took place in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Some of the most distinctive instruments used in Ethiopia are the traditional masengene string lyre and the Ethiopian semene flute. In addition, the djembe drum is widely used by local performers.

Iran: Persian classical music and contemporary pop music

Iranian music encompasses a wide range of styles and genres, from traditional folk tunes to modern pop and rock compositions.

The Persian classical music system known as radif is a complex set of scales and harmonies that forms the basis of many traditional compositions. Instruments such as the santur and tar are iconic to the country.

In recent years, Iranian pop music has experienced a renaissance, mixing Western motifs with Persian heritage. Artists such as Googoosh and Ebi have excelled in this genre.

Saudi Arabia: tradition and modernity in pop culture

Music in Saudi Arabia is closely associated with religious rituals and festivals. It plays an important role in the cultural life of the people. Most of the music in the country is performed using traditional instruments such as the oud, rebab and dawl.

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With the recent growth of the entertainment industry, pop music has taken off in the country. Artists such as Rotana Tarabzouni and Mohammed Abdu present a fusion of traditional and modern in their work.

United Arab Emirates: Bedouin traditions and cosmopolitanism

Music in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) combines elements of Bedouin tradition with the country's cosmopolitanism. A traditional performing genre known as Al Ayyala is popular at festivals and cultural events. Among the ancient local instruments are the daf and the mizmar.

With the growing influence of global culture, the music scene in the UAE has also embraced Western genres, with events such as the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival attracting artists from all over the world. UAE music is a reflection of the country's rapid development and its connection to the modern world.

Photo: iStock
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