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Music has been an integral part of Egyptian culture since antiquity in Egypt. Egyptian music had a significant impact on the development of ancient Greek music, and via the Greeks it was important to early European music well into the Middle Ages. Due to the thousands of years long dominance of Egypt over its neighbors, Egyptian culture, including music and musical instruments, was very influential in the surrounding regions; for instance, the instruments claimed in the Bible to have been played by the ancient Hebrews are all Egyptian instruments as established by Egyptian archaeology. Egyptian modern music is considered as a main core of Middle Eastern and Oriental music as it has a huge influence on the region due to the popularity and huge influence of Egyptian cinema and music industries, owing to the political influence Egypt has on its neighboring countries, as well as Egypt producing the most accomplished musicians and composers in the region, specially in the 20th century, a lot of them are of international stature.The tonal structure music in the East is defined by the maqamat, loosely similar to the Western modes, while the rhythm in the East is governed by the iqa'at, standard rhythmic modes formed by combinations of accented and unaccented beats and rests.
The ancient Egyptians credited the goddess Bat with the invention of music. The cult of Bat was eventually syncretised into that of Hathor because both were depicted as cows. Hathor's music was believed to have been used by Osiris as part of his effort to civilise the world. The lion-goddess Bastet was also considered a goddess of music in ancient Egypt.
In prehistoric Egypt, music and chanting were commonly used in magic and rituals. Rhythms during this time were unvaried and music served to create rhythm. Small shells were used as whistles. pp26–30)(
During the predynastic period of Egyptian history, funerary chants continued to play an important role in Egyptian religion and were accompanied by clappers or a flute. Despite the lack of physical evidence in some cases, Egyptologists theorise that the development of certain instruments known of the Old Kingdom period, such as the end-blown flute, took place during this time. pp33–34)(
The evidence for instruments played is more securely attested in the Old Kingdom when harps, flutes and double clarinets were played.[ citation needed ] Percussion instruments and lutes were added to orchestras by the Middle Kingdom. Cymbals frequently accompanied music and dance, much as they still do in Egypt today.
Early Middle Eastern music was influenced by Byzantine and Roman forms, which were themselves heavily influenced by earlier Greek, Semitic, and Ancient Egyptian music.
Egyptians in Medieval Cairo believed that music exercised "too powerful an effect upon the passions, and leading men into gaiety, dissipation and vice." However, Egyptians generally were very fond of music. Though, according to E.W. Lane, no "man of sense" would ever become a musician, music was a key part of society. Tradesmen of every occupation used music during work and schools taught the Quran by chanting. p359)(
The music of Medieval Egypt was derived from Ancient Egyptian and Byzantine traditions. Lane said that "the most remarkable peculiarity of the Arabic system of music is the division of tones into thirds," although today Western musicologists prefer to say that Arabic music's tones are divided into quarters. The songs of this period were similar in sound and simple, within a small range of tones. Egyptian song, though simple in form, is embellished by the singer. Distinct enunciation and a quavering voice are also characteristics of Egyptian singing. pp360–361)(
Male professional musicians during this period were called Alateeyeh (plural), or Alatee (singular), which means "a player upon an instrument". However, this name applies to both vocalists as well as instrumentalists. This position was considered disreputable and lowly. However, musicians found work singing or playing at parties to entertain the company. They generally made three shillings a night, but earned more by the guests' givings.
Female professional musicians were called Awalim (pl) or Al’meh, which means a learned female. These singers were often hired on the occasion of a celebration in the harem of a wealthy person. They were not with the harem, but in an elevated room that was concealed by a screen so as not to be seen by either the harem or the master of the house. The female Awalim were more highly paid than male performers and more highly regarded than the Alateeyeh as well. Lane relates an instance of a female performer who so enraptured her audience that she earned up to fifty guineas for one night's performance from the guests and host, themselves not considered wealthy.
In the second half of the 19th century, the Hasaballah genre of popular improvisational brass band folk music emerged, initiated by clarinettist Mohammad Hasaballah and his band, also called Hasaballah, playing in Cairo's music and entertainment quarter on Mohammed Ali Street. The typical line-up of trumpet, trombone, bass and snare drums, was popular, such as at family events, for well over a century, and is still played.
Egyptian music began to be recorded in the 1910s when Egypt was still part of the Ottoman Empire. The cosmopolitan Ottoman rulers encouraged the development of the arts, encouraging women and locals to develop their musical abilities. By the fall of the Empire, Egypt's classical musical tradition was already thriving, centered on the city of Cairo. In general, modern Egyptian music blends its rich indigenous traditions, with some western elements that helped create Egypt's pop music.
Since the end of World War I, some of the Middle East's biggest musical stars have been Egyptian. Contemporary Egyptian music traces its beginnings to the creative work of Abdu el-Hamuli, Almaz, and Mahmud Osman, as well as the later work of the 20th century's most important Egyptian composers and singers: Sayed Darwish, Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Abdel Halim Hafez, and Zakariya Ahmed. Most of these stars, including Umm Kulthum and Nagat El-Saghira, were part of the traditional Egyptian music. Some, like Abd el-Halim Hafez, were associated with the Egyptian nationalist movement from 1952 onward.[ citation needed ]
Cairo-born Fatma Said was the first Egyptian soprano to sing at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan,and from 2016-2018 took part in BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme.
Western classical music was introduced to Egypt, and, in the middle of the 18th century, instruments such as the piano and violin were gradually adopted by Egyptians. Opera also became increasingly popular during the 18th century, and Giuseppe Verdi's Egyptian-themed Aida was premiered in Cairo on December 24, 1871.
By the early 20th century, the first generation of Egyptian composers, including Yusef Greiss, Abu Bakr Khairat, and Hasan Rashid, began writing for Western instruments. The second generation of Egyptian composers included notable artists such as Gamal Abdelrahim. Representative composers of the third generation are Ahmed El-Saedi and Rageh Daoud. In the early 21st century, even fourth generation composers such as Mohamed Abdelwahab Abdelfattah (of the Cairo Conservatory) have gained international attention.
Religious music remains an essential part of traditional Sufi Muslim and Coptic Christian celebrations called mulids. Mulids are held in Egypt to celebrate the saint of a particular church or an exalted local Muslim figure. Muslim mulids are related to the Sufi zikr ritual. The Egyptian flute, called the ney, is commonly played at mulids. The liturgical music of the Alexandrian Rite also constitutes an important element of Egyptian music and is said to have preserved many features of ancient Egyptian music.
Egyptian folk music, including the traditional Sufi dhikr rituals in Egypt, are the closest contemporary music genre to ancient Egyptian music, having preserved many of its features, rhythms, and instruments.
The 20th century has seen Cairo become associated with a roots revival. Musicians from across Egypt are keeping folk traditions alive, such as those of rural Egyptians (fellahin), the Saii'da, and to a lesser extent minorities like the Siwa people, the Egyptian Gypsies, the Sinawis and the Nubians. Mixtures of folk and pop have also risen from the Cairo hit factory.
Since the Nasser era, Egyptian pop music has become increasingly important in Egyptian culture, particularly among the large youth population of Egypt. Egyptian folk music continues to be played during weddings and other traditional festivities. In the last quarter of the 20th century, Egyptian music was a way to communicate social and class issues. Among some of the most popular Egyptian pop singers today are Mohamed Mounir and Amr Diab.
Sawahli (coastal) music is a type of popular Egyptian music from the country's northern coast, and is based around ancient Egyptian instrumentals, mainly the simsimiyya, which is an indigenous Egyptian stringed instrument that has its roots in ancient Egypt, it---the simsimiyya---was probably introduced to the country's northern coast from the Nile valley in the 19th century by Egyptian workers in the Suez Canal. Well known Egyptian bands that feature the simsimiyya as a main instrument include el-Tanboura, which uses other ancient Egyptian instruments.
Egyptian musicians from Upper Egypt play a form of folk music called Ṣa‘īdi which originates from Upper Egypt. Metqal Qenawi's Les Musiciens du Nil (Musicians of the Nile; who became known to Alain Weber in 1975), are the most popular Sa‘ī di group, and were chosen by the government to represent Egyptian folk music abroad. They spent over three decades touring Europe performing at various festivals and musical events and in 1983 after their performance in the World of Music and Dance Festival, they were signed to Peter Gabriel's label Real World-Carolina and went on to feature on his Album Passion. Other performers include Shoukoukou, Ahmad Ismail, Omar Gharzawi, Sohar Magdy and Ahmed Megahid.
In Egypt, Nubians are native to southern part of Aswan, though some live in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities. Nubian folk music can still be heard, but migration and intercultural contact with Egyptian and other musical genres have produced new innovations. Ali Hassan Kuban's efforts had made him a regular on the world music scene, while Mohamed Mounir's social criticism and sophisticated pop have made him a star among Nubians, Egyptians, and other people worldwide. Ahmed Mounib, Mohamed Mounir's mentor, was by far the most notable Nubian singer to hit the Egyptian music scene, singing in both Egyptian Arabic as well as in his native Nobiin. Hamza El Din was another popular Nubian Egyptian artist, well known on the world music scene and has collaborated with the Kronos Quartet.
Many of the modern day instruments, both in the East and the West, trace their roots back to ancient Egypt, and many ancient Egyptian instruments are still used in Egypt today, such as the darbuka, the simsimiyya, the Egyptian ney, among other instruments.
During the Abbasid and Ottoman dynasty Egypt was one of the main musical hubs in the middle east and therefore after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 Egypt became the capital of music in the Arabic-speaking world where classical instruments such as the oud, qanun, and ney were widely used. The typical takht (ensemble) consisted of an Oud player, qanun player, ney player and violin player. The takht (literally meaning a sofa) was the most common form of ensembles in the early 20th century before the adoption of more orchestral instruments which were introduced by composers such as Mohamed El Qasabgi, Riad El Sunbati and Mohammed Abdel Wahab.
One of the most respected early electronic music composers, Halim El-Dabh, is an Egyptian. Active at the same time, or perhaps earler than, the French electronic pioneers from the Studio d’Essai, he is one of, if not the, earliest composer of purely electronic music. In 1944 he composed the earliest known work of tape music, or musique concrète, called The Expression of Zar, which he composed in Egypt, while still a student in Cairo, by capturing sounds from the streets of Egypt on a wire recorder.
The Egyptian electronic music scene has gained a mainstream foothold in the forms of techno, trance, and dance pop DJs such as Aly & Fila. In the 2010s, Mahraganat music, an Egyptian form of electronic music which often contains political lyrics, gained popularity both inside and outside Egypt.
In the 20th and early 21st centuries, interest in the music of the pharaonic/ancient Egyptian period began to grow, inspired by the research of such foreign-born musicologists as Hans Hickmann, who lived and worked in Egypt. By the early 21st century, Egyptian musicians and musicologists led by the Egyptian musicology professor Khairy el-Malt at Helwan University in Cairo had begun to reconstruct musical instruments of ancient Egypt, a project that is ongoing.
The culture of Egypt has thousands of years of recorded history. Ancient Egypt was among the earliest civilizations in the world. For millennia, Egypt developed strikingly unique, complex and stable cultures that have influenced other cultures of Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
The music of Spain has a long history. It has played an important role in the development of Western music, and has greatly influenced Latin American music. Spanish music is often associated with traditional styles such as flamenco and classical guitar. While these forms of music are common, there are many different traditional musical and dance styles across the regions. For example, music from the north-west regions is heavily reliant on bagpipes, the jota is widespread in the centre and north of the country, and flamenco originated in the south. Spanish music played a notable part in the early developments of western classical music, from the 15th through the early 17th century. The breadth of musical innovation can be seen in composers like Tomás Luis de Victoria, styles like the zarzuela of Spanish opera, the ballet of Manuel de Falla, and the classical guitar music of Francisco Tárrega. Nowadays commercial pop music dominates.
The rich and varied music of Sudan has traditional, rural, East African roots, and also shows Arabic, Western or other African influences, especially on the popular urban music from the early 20th century onwards. Since the establishment of big cities like Khartoum as melting pots for people of diverse backgrounds, their cultural heritage and tastes have shaped numerous forms of modern popular music. In the globalized world of today, the creation and consumption of music through satellite TV or on the Internet is a driving force for cultural change in Sudan, popular with local audiences as well as with Sudanese living abroad.
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.
A sistrum is a musical instrument of the percussion family, chiefly associated with ancient Egypt. It consists of a handle and a U-shaped metal frame, made of brass or bronze and between 30 and 76 cm in width. When shaken, the small rings or loops of thin metal on its movable crossbars produce a sound that can be from a soft clank to a loud jangling. Its name in the ancient Egyptian language was sekhem (sḫm) and sesheshet (sššt).
The end-blown flute is a woodwind instrument played by directing an airstream against the sharp edge of the upper end of a tube. Unlike a recorder or tin whistle, there is not a ducted flue voicing, also known as a fipple. Most rim-blown flutes are "oblique" flutes, being played at an angle to the body's vertical axis. A notched flute is an end-blown flute with a notch on the blowing surface. A lip-valley flute is a type of notched flute.
Mohamed Mounir is an Egyptian singer and actor, with a musical career spanning more than four decades. He incorporates various genres into his music, including classical Egyptian Music, Nubian music, blues, jazz and reggae. His lyrics are noted both for their philosophical content and for their passionate social and political commentary. He is affectionately known by his fans as "The King" in reference to his album and play "El Malek Howwa El Malek". Mounir's family is from Nubia, Southern Aswan, Egypt.
Ancient music refers to the musical systems that were developed in the ancient past, literate cultures, including Mesopotamia, India, Persia, Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome, which replaced prehistoric music. Designated by the characterization of the basic notes and scales, ancient music was transmitted through oral or written systems.
Mohamed Abdel Wahab, also transliterated Mohamed Abd El-Wahhab, was a prominent 20th-century Egyptian singer, actor, and composer. He's best known for his Romantic and Egyptian patriotic songs.
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, Azeri Music, the varied traditions of Cypriot music, the music of Turkey, traditional Assyrian music, Coptic ritual music in Egypt as well as other genres of Egyptian music in general, and the Andalusian music very much alive in the greater Middle East, 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.
Hamza El Din was an Egyptian Nubian composer, oud player, tar player, and vocalist. He was born in southern Egypt and was an internationally known musician of his native region Nubia, situated on both sides of the Egypt–Sudan border. After musical studies in Cairo, he lived and studied in Italy, Japan and the United States. El Din collaborated with a wide variety of musical performers, including Sandy Bull, the Kronos Quartet and the Grateful Dead.
Mohamed Garrana Rifaat is an Egyptian composer of classical music, a member of that nation's second generation of such composers.
The simsimiyya is an indigenous Egyptian stringed instrument that has its roots in ancient Egypt. It is used in Egypt in certain genres of Egyptian music.
Hans Robert Hermann Hickmann was an eminent German musicologist. He lived in Egypt and specialized in the music and organology of Ancient Egypt, and survivals thereof in Egyptian traditional music. He wrote about Egypt's tradition of cheironomy for the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
The kāwālā is an end-blown cane flute used in Arabic music. It is similar to the ney but has six finger holes, while the ney has seven. The kawala comes in up to nine different sizes, according to the maqam.
Music technology is the study or the use of any device, mechanism, machine or tool by a musician or composer to make or perform music; to compose, notate, play back or record songs or pieces; or to analyze or edit music.
Mechanical music technology is the use of any device, mechanism, machine or tool by a musician or composer to make or perform music; to compose, notate, play back or record songs or pieces; or to analyze or edit music. The earliest known applications of technology to music was prehistoric peoples' use of a tool to hand-drill holes in bones to make simple flutes. Ancient Egyptians developed stringed instruments, such as harps, lyres and lutes, which required making thin strings and some type of peg system for adjusting the pitch of the strings. Ancient Egyptians also used wind instruments such as double clarinets and percussion instruments such as cymbals. In Ancient Greece, instruments included the double-reed aulos and the lyre. Numerous instruments are referred to in the Bible, including the horn, pipe, lyre, harp, and bagpipe. During Biblical times, the cornet, flute, horn, organ, pipe, and trumpet were also used. During the Middle Ages, hand-written music notation was developed to write down the notes of religious Plainchant melodies; this notation enabled the Catholic church to disseminate the same chant melodies across its entire empire.
Mahraganat or electro mahragan is a genre of Egyptian electronic dance music. Mahraganat is a combination of popular shaabi music played at weddings and electronic dance music. DJ Figo made the genre more well known with his team "set dyaba" released during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Although this may be the first ever track to go mainstream, Mahraganat was originally conceived first by DJ Ahmed Figo, El Sadat, Feelo and Alaa Fifty in 2004. They shared their music via MP3 files and phones, and it could be heard playing in taxis, tuktuks and on the street. The first ever Mahragan mix was released by the group of friends in 2006 and it was called "Mahragan Elsalam", named after their neighbourhood 'Elsalam', it talked about friendship and how to be mature.
Hittite music is the music of the Hittites of the 17th-12th century BC and of the Syro-Hittite successor states of the 12th-7th century BC.