Middle Eastern music refers to different various music styles that span across the Middle East. The various nations of the region include the Arabic-speaking countries of the Middle East, the Iranian traditions of Persia, the Jewish music of Israel and the diaspora, Armenian music, the varied traditions of Cypriot music, the music of Turkey, traditional Assyrian music, Coptic ritual music in Egypt, and the Andalusian (Muslim Spain) music very much alive in the greater Middle East (North Africa), all maintain their own traditions. It is widely regarded that some Middle-Eastern musical styles have influenced Central Asia, as well as Spain, and the Balkans.
Throughout the region, religion has been a common factor in uniting peoples of different languages, cultures and nations. The predominance of Islam allowed a great deal of Arabic, and Byzantine influence to spread through the region rapidly from the 7th century onward. The Arabic scale is strongly melodic, based on various maqamat (sing. maqam) or modes (also known as makam in Turkish music). The early Arabs translated and developed Greek texts and works of music and mastered the musical theory of the music of ancient Greece (i.e. Systema ametabolon, enharmonium, chromatikon, diatonon).This is similar to the dastgah of Persian music. While this originates with classical music, the modal system has filtered down into folk, liturgical and even popular music, with influence from the West. Unlike much western music, Arabic music includes quarter tones halfway between notes, often through the use of stringed instruments (like the oud) or the human voice. Further distinguishing characteristics of Middle Eastern and North African music include very complex rhythmic structures, generally tense vocal tone, and a monophonic texture. Traditional Middle Eastern music does not use chords, or harmony in the Western sense.
Often, more traditional Middle-Eastern music can last from one to three hours in length, building up to anxiously awaited, and much applauded climaxes, or tarab, derived from the Arabic term طرب tarraba.
Many instruments originate in the Middle East region. Most popular of the stringed instruments is the oud, a pear-shaped lute that traditionally had four strings, although current instruments have up to six courses consisting of one or two strings each. Legend has it that the oud was invented by Lamech, the sixth grandson of Adam. This is stated by Al-Farabi, and it is part of the Iraqi folklore relating to the instrument. Legend goes on to suggest that the first oud was inspired by the shape of his son's bleached skeleton.
Historically, the oldest pictorial record of the oud dates back to the Uruk period in Southern Mesopotamia over 5000 years ago. It is on a cylinder seal currently housed at the British Museum and acquired by Dr. Dominique Collon,Editor of Iraq at the British Institute for the Study of Iraq.
Used mostly in court music for royals and the rich, the harp also comes from ancient Egypt c. 3500 BC.
The widespread use of the oud led to many variations on the instrument, including the saz, a Turkish long-necked lute that remains very popular in Turkey.
Another popular string instrument is the qanoun, developed by Farabi during the Abbasids era. Legend has it that Farabi played qanoun in court and alternately made people laugh, cry, or fall asleep. The qanoun developed out of string instruments described in inscriptions that date to the Assyrian period.It has about 26 triple-string courses, plucked with a piece of horn. The musician has the freedom to alter the pitch of individual courses from a quarter to a whole step by adjusting metal levers.
Middle Eastern music also makes use of the violin, which is European in origin. The violin was adopted into Middle Eastern music in the 19th century, and it is able to produce non-Western scales that include quarter-tones because it is fretless.
Percussion instruments play a very important role in Middle Eastern music. The complex rhythms of this music are often played on many simple percussion instruments. The riq الرق (a type of tambourine) and finger cymbals add a higher rhythmic line to rhythm laid down with sticks, clappers, and other drums. An instrument native to Egypt, Palestine, and Lebanon, the doumbek (or tombak), is a drum made of ceramic clay, with a goatskin head glued to the body.[ citation needed ]
The Armenian duduk is a very popular double reeded, oboe-like instrument made out of Apricot tree wood. The Moroccan oboe, also called the rhaita, has a double-reed mouthpiece that echoes sound down its long and narrow body. A similar instrument is called the sorna. Equivalent to the mizmar and zurna, it is used more for festivals and loud celebrations. A Turkish influence comes from the mey, which has a large double reed. Bamboo reed pipes are the most common background to belly dancing and music from Egypt. Flutes are also a common woodwind instrument in ensembles. A kaval is a three-part flute that is blown in one end, whereas the ney is a long cane flute, played by blowing across the sharp edge while pursing the lips.
Music pervades Middle Eastern societies.While traditional music remains popular in the Middle East, modern music reconciling Western and traditional Arabic styles, pop, and fusion are rapidly advancing in popularity. Lebanese rock Star who performs in English, Lydia Canaan, is listed in the catalog of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Library and Archives in Cleveland, Ohio, USA as the first rock star of the Middle East. Canaan fused Middle Eastern quarter tones and microtones with anglophone rock, innovating a unique style of world music.
Music history, sometimes called historical musicology, is a highly diverse subfield of the broader discipline of musicology that studies music from a historical point of view. In theory, "music history" could refer to the study of the history of any type or genre of music. In practice, these research topics are often categorized as part of ethnomusicology or cultural studies, whether or not they are ethnographically based. The terms "music history" and "historical musicology" usually refer to the history of the notated music of Western elites, sometimes called "art music".
The oud is a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped stringed instrument, usually with 11 strings grouped in 6 courses, but some models have 5 or 7 courses, with 10 or 13 strings respectively.
The music of Iraq or Iraqi music,, also known as the Music of Mesopotamia encompasses the music of a number of ethnic groups and musical genres. Ethnically, it includes Arabic music, Assyrian, Kurdish and the music of Turkmen, among others. Apart from the traditional music of these peoples, Iraqi music includes contemporary music styles such as pop, rock, soul and urban contemporary.
Arabic music or Arab music is the music of the Arab world with all its diverse music styles and genres. Arabic countries have many rich and varied styles of music and also many linguistic dialects, with each country and region having their own traditional music.
The qanun, kanun, ganoun or kanoon is a string instrument played either solo, or more often as part of an ensemble, in much of the Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, Central Asia, and southeastern regions of Europe. The name derives from the Arabic word qanun, meaning "rule, law, norm, principle", which is borrowed from the ancient Greek word and musical instrument κανών (rule), which in Latin was called canon. Traditional and Classical musics executed on the qanun are based on Maqamat or Makamlar. Qanun trace its origins to a stringed Assyrian instrument from the Old Assyrian Empire, specifically from the nineteenth century BC in Mesopotamia. This instrument came inscribed on a box of elephant ivory found in the old Assyrian capital Nimrud, which is located about 35 km from the city of Mosul in Iraq. The instrument is a type of large zither with a thin trapezoidal soundboard that is famous for its unique melodramatic sound.
The music of Lebanon has a long history. Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, has long been known, especially in a period immediately following World War II, for its art and intellectualism. Several singers emerged in this period, among the most famous Fairuz, Sabah, Wadih El Safi, Nasri Shamseddine, Melhem Barakat, Majida El Roumi, Ahmad Kaabour, Marcel Khalife, and Ziad Rahbany, who—in addition to being an engaged singer-songwriter and music composer—was also a popular playwright. Lydia Canaan was hailed by the media as the first rock star of the Middle East.
Rabih Abou-Khalil is an oud player and composer born in Lebanon, who combines elements of Arabic music with jazz, classical music, and other styles. He grew up in Beirut and moved to Munich, Germany, during the Lebanese Civil War in 1978.
The culture of Lebanon and the Lebanese people emerged from various civilizations over thousands of years. It was home to the Phoenicians and was subsequently conquered and occupied by the Assyrians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Ottoman Turks and the French. This variety is reflected in Lebanon's diverse population, composed of different religious groups, and features in the country's festivals, musical styles, literature, cuisine of Lebanon and architecture of Lebanon. Tourism in Lebanon is popular with periods of interruption during conflict.
Munir Bashir, the King of Oud was an Iraqi Assyrian musician and one of the most famous musicians in the Middle East during the 20th century and was considered to be the supreme master of the Arab maqamat scale system.
In Arabic Music, the mawwāl is a traditional and popular Arabic genre of vocal music that is very slow in beat and sentimental in nature, and is characterised by prolonging vowel syllables, emotional vocals, and is usually presented before the actual song begins. The singer performing a mawwal would usually lament and long for something, such as a past lover, a departed family member or a place, in a wailing manner.
Arabic pop music or Arab pop music is a subgenre of pop music and Arabic music.
Omar Bashir is an Iraqi-Hungarian musician. His father, Munir Bashir, was considered to be the supreme master of the Arab maqamat scale system.
Arabic maqam is the system of melodic modes used in traditional Arabic music, which is mainly melodic. The word maqam in Arabic means place, location or position. The Arabic maqam is a melody type. It is "a technique of improvisation" that defines the pitches, patterns, and development of a piece of music and which is "unique to Arabian art music". There are seventy two heptatonic tone rows or scales of maqamat. These are constructed from major, neutral, and minor seconds. Each maqam is built on a scale, and carries a tradition that defines its habitual phrases, important notes, melodic development and modulation. Both compositions and improvisations in traditional Arabic music are based on the maqam system. Maqamat can be realized with either vocal or instrumental music, and do not include a rhythmic component.
Farid and Rami Chehade, who perform professionally as the Chehade Brothers, are Palestinian–Lebanese musicians and singers.
Assyrian folk/pop music, also known as Assyrian folk music, Assyrian pop music or Syriac music, is the traditional musical style of the Assyrian people that includes a broad range of stylistic varieties, which would also encompass fusions of Western genres such as pop, electronic, Latin, jazz and/or classical music, with a melodic basis of Assyrian folk.
Lydia Canaan is a Lebanese singer-songwriter and humanitarian activist widely regarded as the first “rock star” of the Middle East.
MAQAM is a US-based production company specializing in Arabic and Middle Eastern media. The company was established by a small group of Arabic music and culture lovers, later becoming a division of 3B Media Inc. "MAQAM" is an Arabic word meaning a position of high esteem. It also refers to a musical mode in Arabic music that is based on the quarter-tone scale.
Sahar Taha was an Iraqi musician and journalist living in Lebanon. She co-hosted the Lebanese programme Banat Hawa on LBC. She was known for playing the oud in both eastern and western music.
The Brothers of the Baladi is a World music band based in Portland, Oregon, USA, that plays both traditional Middle Eastern music, and also combines traditional Middle Eastern and western sounds and instruments for a unique Worldbeat sound. Band leader/percussionist/vocalist Michael Beach provides lyrics in Arabic, Turkish, Persian, French, Spanish, Kurdish, Armenian and English, and the band features many traditional Middle Eastern instruments including oud, saz, mizmar, midjwiz, arghool, doumbek, riq, def, tar, bendir and davul.
The Catholic Church in the Middle East is under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. The Catholic Church is said to have traditionally originated in the Middle East in the 1st century AD, and was one of the major religions of the region from the 4th-century Byzantine reforms until the centuries following the Arab Islamic conquests of the 7th century AD. Ever since, its proportion has decreased until today's diaspora tendency, mainly due to persecution by Islamic majority societies. In most Islamic countries, the Catholic Church is severely restricted or outlawed. Significant exceptions include Israel and Lebanon.