The musical world is colourful, vibrant, and influenced by the unique histories of each culture around the globe.
Cross-cultural influences define the music of diverse societies, as the fusion of diﬀerent techniques flourishes into new genres. From the blues in Southern and Central USA, to symphonic metal in Scandinavia and the blossoming of Asian rock and pop cultures including K-Pop and C-Pop, the global music scene is developing faster than ever.
And what better way to get to know a new society than by taking in the music scene? Here, we explore 5 perfect locations to add to your bucket list of musical destinations.
1. Preservation Hall, New Orleans
Preservation Hall, based in the centre of the French Quarter of New Orleans, has hosted some of the biggest names in modern music - including Elvis Presley and Stevie Wonder – and played an instrumental role in the development of the jazz movement.
Starting as a rehearsal room where musicians played for tips, Preservation Hall quickly grew popular as one of the few non-segregated musical venues of the Jim Crowe era, and became a regular venue for many influential jazz musicians including George Lewis, Punch Miller, and Sweet Emma Barrett, among others.
The Jaﬀe family, who owned the establishment, played a significant role in supporting the southern Civil Rights movement and provided a space where musicians of all races and backgrounds could share their music. In 1963, Preservation Hall set up its own jazz band, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (PHJB), which continues to play to this day and tours the United States spreading its musical and cultural influence.
Today, Preservation Hall continues to be a leading influence in the USA Jazz scene, and hosts acoustic jazz concerts 350 nights a year by talented local artists. This year stars numerous appearances from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, as well as performances by Will Smith, Wendell Brunious, and Mark Braud.
2. Berlin, Germany
A hugely popular destination for tourists and roadtrippers, for decades Berlin has been renowned as a leading light in the musical world.
Artists including David Bowie and Lou Reed resided in the city, bringing their unique influence to the thriving musical scene, and Berlin quickly became a regular haunt of punk and rock icons such as Siouxsie Sioux, Iggy Pop, and Nick Cave.
With preparation and advanced booking, visitors can tour the famous Hansa Studios, where countless record-breaking albums from artists including Brian Eno, U2, R.E.M., The Pixies, and Rammstein were recorded, making it a must-see for music aficionados.
While Berlin is known for its underground clubs, musical inspiration can be found throughout the city through its myriad of buskers, who bring a diverse new approach to Berlin’s concrete jungle. With upcoming talent around each corner, Berlin is an electrifying experience for musicians of all backgrounds and brings a breath of fresh air to the global music scene.
3. Vienna, Austria
If your musical palette is more traditional, what better destination than the home of celebrated classical composers including Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn?
Vienna is one of the most influential cities in classical music, and every evening 10,000 people listen to live classical music across the city provided by music halls, orchestras, and open-air concerts.
An annual concert runs each year from September to June, to celebrate the legacy of Vienna’s composers, while the Vienna Philharmonic is a must-see for classical music enthusiasts, as it offers some of the greatest classical performances in the world.
4. Osaka, Japan
While Tokyo is perhaps the most obvious destination for large clubs and concerts, Osaka oﬀers a completely unique experience that combines a deep respect for tradition and history with a contrastingly edgy, punk influence.
Osaka’s approach to establishing a music culture - instead of a commercial music scene - has led to a flourishing community of artists working collaboratively to achieve innovative new sounds found nowhere else on the planet. Musicians are creative in their choice of venues, and raibuhausu (literally live house concerts) play a diverse range of genres from hardcore to psychedelic rock.
While you’re touring Osaka, be sure to check out Bear, which has been Osaka’s leading venue for alternative music for over 30 years. Bear’s grungy scene is a nostalgic glimpse back to the underground music venues of the 70s and 80s, playing an exhilarating blend of punk, rock and hardcore.
Osaka’s music scene is a glimpse into the future of rock and punk, moving towards a more collaborative and innovative approach to music.
5. Lagos, Nigeria
Nigerian music has followed the West African diaspora across the world, from its pan-African influences throughout the continent, to musical movements across America including Jamaican Dancehall, Samba, and Hip-hop.
Nigerian techniques such as the Yoruba call and response tunes have made their mark in a diverse variety of music genres, and continue to influence Nigerian music today. The use of percussive instruments and powerful, hypnotic beats are other aspects of Nigerian music that have influenced musicians around the world, as the array of complex rhythms offers new ideas to bring to modern compositions.
Downtown Lagos is a lively, bustling music centre, bursting with inspiration and proud cultural heritage. The Bogobiri hotel and bar is known for its live music and has hosted some of the biggest names in Nigerian music, including Kollydee and the Lagos Blues Train, as well as global talent including Blur’s Damon Albarn.
Bogobiri’s Afro-centric approach to art and design puts Nigerian talent at the forefront, creating an inspiring destination that illuminates the culture of this historic nation.
Finding The Vibes
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, travel throughout the world was restricted and subject to several strict conditions.
This is still the case in some places, but for most countries entry requirements have been loosened, meaning it is now easier than it has been for several years to visit the vibrant creative hubs outlined in this article.
Be aware however, that different countries can have very different rules regarding entry, exit, and visa-free visit lengths, so these will need to be thoroughly investigated prior to your trip. Meanwhile, British tourists need to bear in mind that Brexit has presented some additional obstacles that will need to be navigated in order to enter EU states, and to send goods in and out of the UK.