Here we are once again on the brink of the holiday season, staring goggle-eyed into the candy cane colored abyss while an endless loop of holiday commercials backed by bad versions of Christmas carols compete for your attention, all screaming, “Your family and friends will just love this!” Yes, I can feel you cringing from here.
Before you succumb to ordering the Fancy Frank’s Big Box of Cheese gift set or that family friendly pack of leopard print Snuggies, check out the 2010 World Music Central gift guide for all your world music needs.
First up are some recaps of this year’s best world music from our contributors and their top ten picks:
Best World Music Recordings of 2010, Editor’s Picks
If audio equipment is on that special someone’s wish list, you might want to check out the latest model of Apple’s iPod Nano with 8 GB that stores up to 2,000 songs, has 24 hours of audio playback on a single charge and a 1.54 inch color TFT display for $143.54.
Now if you’re loaded with a little more loot, you can upgrade to the iPod Nano 16 GB priced at $179.00 or the iPod Touch 32 GB for $288.54 or just spring for the big enchilada the iPod Touch 64 GB with a storage capacity of 16,000 songs, 80,000 photos or 80 hours of video, not to mention 40 hours of audio playback on a single charge and a 3.5 inch multi-touch display.
For those of you of more modest means the Apple iPod shuffle 2 GB for mere $41.00. What a deal!
There’s the Sony Walkman 8 GB Video Mp3 Player priced at $69.99 that comes with a 2,000 song storage capacity and a two inch color display. There’s also the Sony Digital Music Player with a 4 GB capacity for the nice mid-range price of $59.99.
Philips has the Go Gear Raga 4 GB Mp3 player that will play up to 20 hours of music for $42.99 or the Go Gear Aria 16 GB Mp3 Player that boast up to 45 hours of music or 5 hours of video priced at $79.99.
Zune HD 16GB Video Mp3 player that boasts a 4,000 song capacity and a 3.3 inch display for $164.54 or snazzy Zune HD 32 GB Video Mp3 player which can hold up to 8,000 songs, play 48 hours of standard definition video or 10 hours of high definition video for a price of $206.54
Zune has in its lineup the Also on our list is Logitech’s Squeezebox Radio Music Player with Color Screen. This plumy system is priced at $146.55 and allows you to catch all the music you want with all-in-one Wi-Fi music player. Connection to your home network via Wi-Fi you can listen to free Internet radio stations, online music services or your own iTunes collection and it’s got a full color screen. Wahoo.
Now you could upgrade to the Logitech’s Squeezebox Boom All-in-One Network Music Player/Wi-Fi Internet Radio. Priced at $222.99, this baby has a built-in high-fidelity amplifier and speakers, and includes a line-in cord that will work with your iPod or other Mp3 player.
Here’s another little goodie and it is the Grace Digital GDI IR 1000 Wi-Fi Internet Radio with Pandora and NPR On-Demand. Priced at $108.23 this grace wireless internet radio allows the user to stream audio content via a wifi router. Users can stream music or talk radio podcast files or 15,000 radio stations from any room in your house. It’s a nifty gift for those NPR junkies on your list.
Finally, there’s the Sonos ZonePlayer 90 Wireless Multi-Room Music System for Home Theater or Stereo. Now this baby is priced at $349.00, but it allows users to connect to a home theater or stereo. With wireless control and free applications for your iPhone, iPod or iPad, users can play different songs in different rooms and listen to music from iTunes, free internet radio, Pandora and others.
Just because you’re giving the gift of music this year, it doesn’t mean that you actually want to hear everything your teenagers or significant others are playing you might want to give the fine gift of headphones.
First up is my personal favorite brand and that’s Sennheiser. Sennheiser’s HD555 Professional headphones with sound channeling are priced at a reasonable $87.34. With a two-year warranty, ergonomic acoustic refinement that allows for ideal sound channeling, and velour ear pads to keep your glasses from getting in the way these headphones are a steal.
If you’re in the market for something a little more reasonable, you should check out Sennheiser’s HD 202 Dynamic Supra-Aural Headphones for only $19.33. With a 10 foot cable and great sound these headphones are exceptional. And, they’re sturdy. I know because I’ve dropped mine off my desk for a good two years and they still work great.
Sennheiser also has the PMX 60 Lightweight Portable Headphones with Neckband for $13.45, a steal for the richness of sound, a 3 foot cable and a two year warranty.
On the higher end, there are the JVC HANC250 High-Grade Noise Cancelling Headphones priced at $109.88 with a noise cancelling feature that can be switched on or off, a battery option for 50 hours of use and a fold flat feature with carrying case.
Now for the even the snobbiest of sound connoisseurs there’s the Bose Quiet Comfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones. Priced at $289.00, these headphones are the crème de la crème with the Bose sound, high end noise reduction feature and battery option.
Remember, headphones should always be given with great love and stern warnings about their use, especially to young users, teenagers and your not so bright buddies.
Maybe music software is on your list this year. Here are some of our picks:
- Music Maker 16 by Magix Entertainment
- Sony Acid Music Studio 8.0 by Sony
- Finale SongWriter 2010 by MakeMusic!
- Finale PrintMusic 2011 by MakeMusic!
- Guitar Pro 6 (Bilingual Software) by eMedia
- Sibelius 6 Student by Sibelius Software Ltd.
- Band-in-a-Box 2010 Pro by eMedia
- Apple Garageband Jam Pack: World Music by Apple
- Piano and Keyboard Method by eMedia
- Band-in-a-Box 2010 MegaPak by PGMusic
For the wee ones on your list there are just oodles of good stuff out there like the LeapFrog Learn and Groove Music Wand, Melissa & Doug Band in a Box and the Hohner 6 Piece Rhythm Instrument Set. Even as an adult, I know that I’d love to play with Musical Hand Bells by Schylling, the Hohner Kids 8” Mini Plastic Rainmaker and the Music Maker Lap Harp.
For older children, teens or those big galoots that act like children running around your house, why not dip into the wonderful world of Guitar Hero. One that really caught our attention this year was Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Guitar. Of course there’s Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Super Bundle, Guitar Hero World Tour and all the other rip roaring derivations of the Wii, Playstation or Xbox game.
Music is an excellent way to teach a child or teen discipline, improve math and science skills and rewards of working hard. Amazon has loads of instruments designed for the bored young people in your life, so why not spice up their lives and spark their brains with Amigo’s ½ Size Classical Guitar for Kids or eMedia’s My Piano Starter Pack for Kids). If you are of the extraordinarily rave or patient variety you could even get Lark in the Morning’s Children’s Bagpipe or the pretty pink 25” Schoenhut Children’s Harp. And, all these instruments come in full sizes as well for the teens on your Christmas list.
Whether it’s a guitar or a kazoo or a clarinet or a half sized violin, children use the gift of music the rest of their lives, if only to grow up and complain about the hours spent having to practice scales. If you are giving an instrument perhaps a clever solution would be to get grandma and grandpa to pony up the money for some private lessons in conjunction with the gift instrument.
And, don’t forget yourself in the music lesson department. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to play the guitar, the dobro or the Irish whistle. Well, now’s your chance to ask for an Austin Bazaar 38” Pink Acoustic Guitar Set with Gig Bag and Accessories or a New Pro Black Acoustic Electric Dobro Resonator Guitar or a Clarke Pennywhistle in the Key of C.
This is a time of year for possibilities and maybe, just maybe, this is the year that you spend the long, dark winter leaning to play an instrument. Or maybe you’re sick and tired of your significant other complaining about how he or she never learned to play the trombone. Now, it just so happens Amazon has a Cecilio 2 Series Nickel Plated B Flat Trombone with case and accessories. You can clean out an area of the garage and your loved one can soon be on his or her way to trombone heaven.
If you are looking for something quieter and more studious gifts you might want to check out some of these music books:
- World Music: A Global Journey by Terry E. Miller and Andrew Shahrairi
- The Rough Guide to World Music: Europe, Asia and Pacific by Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham and Jon Lusk
- Rough Guide to World Music Volume Two: Latin and North America, The Caribbean, Asia & the Pacific by Jeff Kaliss
- The Rough Guide to World Music: Africa & Middle East by John Armstrong
- Custom Enrichment Module: Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World’s Peoples by Jeff Todd Titon
- Excursions in World Music by Bruno Nettl
- World Music: The Basics by Richard Nidel
- The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to World Music by Chris Nickson
- The Ethnomusicologists’ Cookbook: Complete Meals from Around the World by Sean Williams
If you are looking for box sets to give as gifts we’ve got the goods for you with the following picks:
- Africa-50 Years of Music by various artists
- Collaborations (Limited Edition) by Ravi Shankar
- Brazilian Beats Box Set by various artists
- Next Stop Soweto 1-3 by various artists
- Cantors Klezmorim & Crooners 1905-1953: Classic Yiddish 78s From the Mayrent Collection by various artists
- History of Indian Film Music by various artists
You might want to check out clever music-inspired gift items like the Electronic Music Synthesizer Shirt, the Music Notes Trouser Socks, the Classical Sheet Music Cufflinks, or the Yak Pak Black and White Music Note Backpack. There’s also R & M’s Musical 8-piece Cookie Cutter Set or the Sterling Home Violin and Sheet Music Bookends.
Last, but certainly not least, please consider a gift to a worthy charity. These are hard times indeed and every little bit helps, so maybe for that someone who has everything a donation in his or her name to a worthy cause would be the perfect gift. World Music Central encourages support for VH1’s Save the Music Foundation, Freemuse.org and the Music Maker Relief Foundation, but it could also be as simple as digging that old trumpet out of your attic and donating it to a school or children’s music program. Indeed we are all in this together, so please offer up your donations or precious time to keep the music going.
We here at World Music Central would like to wish all of our readers, contributors and friends around the globe a Merry Christmas … Feliz Navidad… Shuvo Naba Barsha… Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan… Glædelig Jul… Joyeux Noel…Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!…Buone Feste Natalizie… Merry Keshmish… Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia… La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou… Sawadee Pee Mai… Cestitamo Bozic……
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.