Through the Wire 

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A few months back we mentioned two Web sites, Pandora and LastFM, which help you discover new music based on its similarity to your current favorites. These sites start from the idea "If you like this, then maybe you'll like this," which is a perfectly sensible way to explore music. You may find, however, that sometimes you want to venture into new territory and hear something completely different. Maybe even music from a part of the world you've never heard of. Two fine Web sites allow you to listen free to new music from all over the globe.

The BBC's Radio 3 ( has a massive archive of world music shows. Some focus on specific artists like, say, the legendary Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré. Others, hosted by Andy Kershaw and Lucy Duran, integrate music exploration with travel reporting in countries ranging from Peru to Algeria to Uganda. And then there are more conventional mixes where you can learn about various flavors of music from countries like Haiti.

Closer to home, the Smithsonian Global Sound Web site ( contains a deep archive that allows you to sample selections from the Folkways series of recordings (which includes a massive selection of folk music from the United States) as well as a deep well of streaming radio and video features where you can watch, say, oud player and activist Hasan Gure performing a song about Somali independence. Hey, if you're going to kill time surfing the Web, why not learn something? S

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