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Rough Guide

The Rough Guide To World Music For Children



Released 31 May 2019

From infectious African rhythms and Latin grooves to far-flung gems from Indian and Chinese cultures, this is an album guaranteed to broaden a child’s musical horizons.

'An excellent compilation’ Songlines


This wildly diverse collection of global sounds is drawn from our very own Riverboat Records catalogue and consists of songs selected from a short-list by children of friends and family, along with a little bit of expert input from the team here at World Music Network HQ.

With an upbeat emphasis throughout, this musical odyssey will transport listeners young and old to far-flung destinations from Calcutta to Colombia and beyond, providing a perfect introduction to a glorious world of music, largely overlooked and hidden from younger ears in our increasingly homogeneous societies.

Children’s brains are like sponges that soak up everything around them and are far more open to hear new things than adults, who’re often too quick to assume that certain types of music are not “child-friendly”. As is often the case, a grown-up is unlikely to like a piece of music if they haven’t had previous exposure to something similar in childhood, therefore the more types of music children hear, the more they will adopt an open-minded and receptive approach later in life. The value of introducing children to music from different parts of the world cannot be overemphasized, as it provides the perfect window through which children can learn and recognize differences between cultures. With that in mind, this collection draws on vastly different musical styles from infectious African rhythms and Latin grooves to far-flung gems from Indian and Chinese cultures.

None of these tracks were written specifically with children in mind, however there are certain songs which had unanimous popularity with our junior panel such as Nuru Kane’s classic opener ‘Afrika’ and Chinese folk/rockers Shanren’s ‘Bi Li Tong’, with the good time vibe resonating with our young listeners. With an emphasis on the upbeat throughout, we made sure that we gave ourselves some creative license with the inclusion of a couple of tracks where one can pause for thought and draw breath, such as the beautiful ‘Era’ from Madagascar, a country whose music is said to combine ‘the spirituality of Asian music, the rhythms of African music, and the complexity of European music’.

Although this collection is on the one hand a child-friendly approach to a world of music, we made sure that the rawness and spirit of any given style was not compromised, hence the inclusion of the rip-roaring instrumentals by klezmer virtuosos She'Koyokh and the avant-garde accordionist René Lacaille, an artist who is the musical embodiment of the unique Creole culture of the Indian Ocean island of La Réunion. Things become yet more riotous with the Jaipur Kawa Brass band as they march full steam ahead into your eardrums, re-interpreting the Indian brass band tradition dating back to the 1750s.

The ethos of Riverboat Records has always been to introduce listeners to underrepresented sounds from around the world and provide a platform for global artists who deserve to be heard. In turn this collection has variety in spades, as disparate styles come together to create a cohesive and fascinating collection which will hopefully inspire children to dig that little bit deeper below the layers of mainstream culture.

Inevitably with such a wide-ranging collection such as this, not every track is going to be a winner with every child, however what can be guaranteed is that they are being given an excellent taster of some of the world’s great musical traditions and who knows, possibly some of the best music they’ve never heard!