Arabic Music

Arabic music is particularly diverse as it includes features from both North African and Western Asia traditions. An early Arabic musical form is recognised as stemming from ‘Jahili poets’ who would recite works whilst incorporating music elements as early as the 5th century. Singing was also assigned to women who would learn accompanying instruments. Around the 11th century music was diversifying and areas such as Al-Andalus became central to the production of musical instruments that would become very influential on key western instruments, such as the lute being derived from the oud. Following the period of the Ottoman Empire, there was a surge of musical nationalism across Arab countries. This was headed by Egypt and Cairo became the epicentre of musical modernisation. 

Much of Arabic music is based on the maqam, a melodic ordering system much like a mode that determines the pitches of a piece and are used for improvisation. They also utilise quartertones and don’t follow the same intonation system that you would find in western musical modes. Arabic music is frequently melodic, with short, repeated phrases that are embellished to form a heterophonic texture. It is also heavily rhythmic and contains what is called iqa’at, which are repeating rhythmic cycles. Common instruments that are easily identified are the oud (a short, lute-type instrument), the ney (an end blown bamboo flute), the qanun (a large, zither-type instrument that is plucked), the rubab (a bowed, 1-3 string instrument) and the darbuka (a goblet drum).

Notable artists:

Marcel Khalife

Rima Khcheich

Mohammed Saleh Abd Al-Saheb Lelo

Kardeş Türküler

If you want to commission your own music in this style, or would like more information or help, please contact us.