Even though folk music has inspired composers throughout history, none of them took the study of indigenous music more seriously than Béla Bartók. Widely regarded as the first ethnomusicologist, Bartók studied and recorded hundreds of pieces of music for singing and dancing from rural parts of Hungary and elsewhere.
In less literal and more impressionistic ways, composers like Vivian Fung, Claude Debussy and Henry Cowell have followed suit, blending the styles, rhythms and forms of non-Western music with their own compositional language. Ditto Steve Reich and György Ligeti, who built entire structures based on the rhythmic patterns of African drumming music.
Tune in all week for music "under the influence," with a special feature on Friday focused on the polyglot music of John Zorn.