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The music of Palestine (Arabic : الموسيقى الفلسطينية) is one of many regional subgenres of Arabic music. While it shares much in common with Arabic music, both structurally and instrumentally, there are musical forms and subject matter that are distinctively Palestinian.
Arabic music is the music of the Arab World with all its different music styles and genres. Arabic countries have many styles of music and also many dialects; each country has its own traditional music.
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs, are an ethnonational group comprising the modern descendants of the peoples who have lived in Palestine over the centuries, including Jews and Samaritans, and who today are largely culturally and linguistically Arab. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one half of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in historic Palestine, the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel. In this combined area, as of 2005, Palestinians constituted 49% of all inhabitants, encompassing the entire population of the Gaza Strip (1.865 million), the majority of the population of the West Bank and 20.95% of the population of Israel proper as Arab citizens of Israel. Many are Palestinian refugees or internally displaced Palestinians, including more than a million in the Gaza Strip, about 750,000 in the West Bank and about 250,000 in Israel proper. Of the Palestinian population who live abroad, known as the Palestinian diaspora, more than half are stateless, lacking citizenship in any country. Between 2.1 and 3.24 million of the diaspora population live in neighboring Jordan, over 1 million live between Syria and Lebanon and about 750,000 live in Saudi Arabia, with Chile's half a million representing the largest concentration outside the Middle East.
In the areas now controlled by both Israel and Palestine, multiple ethnic groups and religions have long held on to a diversity of cultures. Mandatory Palestine population with Arabs (including urban and rural Muslim classes, Arab Christians, Druze and Muslim Bedouin) constituted the largest group, followed by Jews (including Sephardim, Mizrahim and Ashkenazim), Samaritans, Circassians, Armenians, Dom and others. Wasif Jawhariyyeh was one oud player, famous for his post 1904-diary.
Israel, also known as the State of Israel, is a country in Western Asia, located on the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Red Sea. It has land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. The country contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area. Israel's economic and technological center is Tel Aviv, while its seat of government and proclaimed capital is Jerusalem, although the state's sovereignty over Jerusalem has only partial recognition.
Palestine, officially the State of Palestine, is a de jure sovereign state in Western Asia claiming the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as the designated capital, although its administrative center is currently located in Ramallah. The entirety of territory claimed by the State of Palestine has been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967. Palestine has a population of 4,816,503 as of 2016, ranked 123rd in the world.
An ethnic group or ethnicity is a category of people who identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry or on similarities such as common language or dialect, history, society, culture or nation. Ethnicity is often used synonymously with the term nation, particularly in cases of ethnic nationalism, and is separate from but related to the concept of races.
Early in the 20th century, Palestinian Arabs lived in cities and in rural areas, either as farmers or as nomads. The fellahin (farmers) sang a variety of work songs, used for tasks like fishing, shepherding, harvesting and making olive oil. Traveling storytellers and musicians called zajaleen were also common, known for their epic tales. Weddings were also home to distinctive music, especially the dabke, a complex dance performed by linked groups of dancers. Popular songs made use of widely varying forms, particularly the mejana and dal'ona.
Fellah is a farmer or agricultural laborer in the Middle East and North Africa. The word derives from the Arabic word for "ploughman" or "tiller".
A work song is a piece of music closely connected to a form of work, either sung while conducting a task or a song linked to a task which might be a connected narrative, description, or protest song.
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping. “Fishing” may include catching aquatic animals other than fish, such as molluscs, cephalopods, crustaceans, and echinoderms. The term is not normally applied to catching farmed fish, or to aquatic mammals, such as whales where the term whaling is more appropriate. In addition to being caught to be eaten, fish are caught as recreational pastimes. Fishing tournaments are held, and caught fish are sometimes kept as preserved or living trophies. When bioblitzes occur, fish are typically caught, identified, and then released.
After the creation of Israel in 1948, large numbers of Arab Palestinians fled to, or were forced into, refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The most popular recorded musicians at the time were the superstars of Arab classical music, especially Umm Kulthum and Sayed Darwish. The centers for Palestinian music were in the Palestinian towns of Nazareth and Haifa, where performers composed in the classical styles of Cairo and Damascus. A shared Palestinian identity was reflected in a new wave of performers who emerged with distinctively Palestinian themes, relating to the dreams of statehood and the burgeoning nationalist sentiment.
A refugee camp is a temporary settlement built to receive refugees and people in refugee-like situations. Refugee camps usually accommodate displaced persons who have fled their home country, but there are also camps for internally displaced people. Usually refugees seek asylum after they've escaped war in their home countries, but some camps also house environmental- and economic migrants. Camps with over a hundred thousand people are common, but as of 2012, the average-sized camp housed around 11,400. They are usually built and run by a government, the United Nations, international organizations, or NGOs. There are also unofficial refugee camps, like Idomeni in Greece or the Calais jungle in France, where refugees are largely left without support of governments or international organizations.
The West Bank is a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, bordered by Jordan to the east and by the Green Line separating it and Israel on the south, west and north. The West Bank also contains a significant section of the western Dead Sea shore. The West Bank was the name given to the territory that was captured by Jordan in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and subsequently annexed in 1950 until 1967 when it was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War.
The Gaza Strip, or simply Gaza, is a self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that borders Egypt on the southwest for 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) and Israel on the east and north along a 51 km (32 mi) border. Gaza and the West Bank are claimed by the State of Palestine.
In the 1970s, a new wave of popular Palestinian stars emerged, including Sabreen and Al Ashiqeen. After the First Intifada (1987), a more hard-edged group of performers and songwriters emerged, such as al- Funoun, songwriter Suhail Khoury, songwriter Jameel al-Sayih, Thaer Barghouti's Doleh and Sabreen's Mawt a'nabi .
The First Intifada or First Palestinian Intifada was a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The uprising lasted from December 1987 until the Madrid Conference in 1991, though some date its conclusion to 1993, with the signing of the Oslo Accords.
A songwriter is a professional that writes lyrics and composes musical compositions for songs. A songwriter can also be called a composer, although the latter term tends to be used mainly for individuals from the classical music genre and film scoring, but is also associated writing and composing the original musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter that writes the lyrics/words are referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that songwriting is often an activity for which the tasks are distributed between a number of people. For example, a songwriter who excels at writing lyrics might be paired with a songwriter with the task of creating original melodies. Pop songs may be written by group members from the band or by staff writers – songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers.
In the 1990s, the Palestinian National Authority was established, and Palestinian cultural expression began to stabilize. Wedding bands, which had all but disappeared during the fighting, reappeared to perform popular Egyptian and Lebanese songs. Other performers to emerge later in the 90s included Yuad, Washem, Mohsen Subhi, Adel Salameh, Issa Boulos, Wissam Joubran, Samir Joubran, and Basel Zayed with his new sound of Palestine and Turab group founded in 2004 with the CD Hada Liel.
The Palestinian National Authority is the interim self-government body established in 1994 following the Gaza–Jericho Agreement to govern the Gaza Strip and Areas A and B of the West Bank, as a consequence of the 1993 Oslo Accords. Following elections in 2006 and the subsequent Gaza conflict between the Fatah and Hamas parties, its authority had extended only in areas A and B of the West Bank. Since January 2013, the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority uses the name "State of Palestine" on official documents.
A wedding is a ceremony where two people are united in marriage. Wedding traditions and customs vary greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions, countries, and social classes. Most wedding ceremonies involve an exchange of marriage vows by the couple, presentation of a gift, and a public proclamation of marriage by an authority figure or celebrant. Special wedding garments are often worn, and the ceremony is sometimes followed by a wedding reception. Music, poetry, prayers or readings from religious texts or literature are also commonly incorporated into the ceremony, as well as superstitious customs originating in Ancient Rome.
Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country in the northeast corner of Africa, whose territory in the Sinai Peninsula extends beyond the continental boundary with Asia, as traditionally defined. Egypt is bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, Libya to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.
The Diaspora Palestinian Reem Kelani is one of the foremost present day researchers and performers of music with a specifically Palestinian narrative and heritage.Her 2006 debut solo album Sprinting Gazelle – Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora comprised Kelani's research and arrangement of five traditional Palestinian songs, whilst the other five songs were her own musical settings of popular and resistance poetry by the likes of Mahmoud Darwish, Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Rashid Husain and Mahmoud Salim al-Hout. All the songs on the album relate to pre-1948 Palestine.
A large part of Palestinian music comprises wedding songs and dances. Due to the large amount of weddings in Palestinian culture, wedding singers have been able to maintain the tradition of Palestinian songs whilst incorporating modern vocals and rhythms. Wedding singers draw from a repertoire of ceremonial material including henna songs sung at the henna ceremony, wedding processionals (zeffat), and popular debkah and dance songs.
Before 1948, the Palestinians formed a part of the Arab cultural mosaic in the Levant, and it was difficult to separate them from the cultural and musical composition of the Syrian people. Although the popular music was limited to the genre of folk music that served the needs of ritual and social events varied, but the beginnings of a serious musical phenomenon began to form in Palestine with the presence of profound composers of the first generation, such as Salvador Arnita and Augustine Lama, and then the second generation of proverbs Patrick Lama & Amin Nasser. This phenomenon continued quietly and silently after 48 years through successive generations (Habib Touma, Nasri Fernando Dueri, Mounir Anastas, Bichara El Khail and Sam Gebran). The Israeli occupation, the transfer of the identity of the Palestinian society from the sphere of integration and near-total identification with the Syrian identity within what was called Greater Syria to the formation of the Palestinian identity within the context of confrontation existential and cultural and political with the Zionists. From this confrontation with the occupation emerged the movement of the poetry of the resistance, and with it emerged national Palestinian song against the occupation. During the occupation, Palestinian classical music continued to rise, with new names in the realm of classical music along with the founding of many symphony orchestras (such as the Palestinian Youth Orchestra PYO, and West-Eastern Divan, founded by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said) as well as string quartets and quintets, which gave the Palestinian Territories the highest number of orchestras among Arab countries. Names of Palestinian composers: Salvador Arnita (1914-1985), Habib Hasan Touma (born in Nazareth, 1934, died in Berlin 1998), Nasri Fernando Dueri (born 1932), François Nicodeme (born in Jerusalem 1935) and his brother William Nicodeme (born Amin Nasser in Ramleh 1935), Patrick Lama, Abdel-Hamid Hamam, Mounir Anastas, Samir Odeh-Tamimi (1970) and Wisam Gibran (born in Nazareth 1970) dominated the Palestinian classical music scene.
Palestinian music reflects Palestinian experience.As might be expected, much of it deals with the struggle of living under Israeli occupation, the longing for peace, and the love of the land of Palestine. A typical example of such a song is Baladi, Baladi (My Country, My Country), which has become the unofficial Palestinian national anthem:
Palestine, Land of the fathers,
To you, I do not doubt, I will return.
Struggle, revolution, do not die,
For the storm is on the land.
"Zareef et Tool" is one of the most popular Palestinian songs of today and can be traced back decades. The song encourages Palestinians not to leave their homeland:
يا زريف الطول وقّف تاقلك ... رايح عالغربة و بلادك أحسنلك
خايف يا زريف تروح و تتملك .. و تعاشر الغير و تنساني أنا
O, elegant and tall one stop so I can tell you
You are going abroad and your country is better for you
I am afraid you will get established there
And find someone else and forget me
Unlike many other cultures, traditional Palestinian songs have no set lyrics but rather a set rhythm. The singers are usually family members or close friends who make up the lyrics on the spot. At modern Palestinian events there may be a professional singer, but the forms mentioned below, still very popular today, were created before the popularization of professional singers. Therefore, the song lyrics differ from city to city. Many types of Palestinian songs, including Atab/Mejana and Dal'ona, have transcended time. Due to the relevance of the subject matter and the need to maintain tradition and culture, traditional types of Palestinian songs can still be heard at events of today, such as weddings or gatherings. They still remain extremely popular throughout the Palestinian culture. Among the forms:
Beginning in the late 1990s, Palestinian youth forged a new Palestinian musical subgenre – Palestinian rap or hip hop – which blends Arabic melodies and Western beats, with lyrics in Arabic, English and even Hebrew.
Borrowing from traditional rap music that first emerged in the ghettos of Los Angeles and New York in the 1970s, "young Palestinian musicians have tailored the style to express their own grievances with the social and political climate in which they live and work."
DAM were pioneers in forging this blend. As Arab citizens of Israel, they rap in Arabic, Hebrew, and English, often challenging stereotypes about Palestinians and Arabs head-on in songs like "Meen Erhabe?" ("Who's a terrorist?")
More peculiar is the West Bank group Ramallah Underground, found by the two brothers Aswatt, Boikutt and Stormtrap. Their sound is a mix of hip hop, trip hop, and downtempo alongside traditional Arab music. There are many rappers who defend Palestinian nationalism, and the best of them, Ortega Da ALCz (Alhassan) who caused a sensation in the Israeli media in 2012 because of his songs' hostility to Israel. Ortega Da ALC'z is considered a better performer of Palestinian rap in the Persian Gulf region, because he was born in the United Arab Emirates.
In the diaspora are the Abu-Ghaben brothers, who founded Jaffa Phonix in Cairo, Egypt. They blended big-beat, hip hop, and vocal punk elements.
According to the human rights organization Freemuse, Palestinian musicians feared what was going to happen in the Palestinian territories where Islamic fundamentalists have become increasingly assertive since the militant Hamas group scored political gains in the Palestinian Authority local elections of 2005.
In 2005 an outdoor music and dance performance in Qalqiliya was suddenly banned by the Hamas led municipality, for the reason that such an event would be forbidden by Islam. The municipality also ordered that music no longer be played in the Qalqiliya zoo, and mufti Akrameh Sabri issued a religious edict affirming the municipality's decision.In response, the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish warned that "There are Taliban-type elements in our society, and this is a very dangerous sign".
The Palestinian columnist Mohammed Abd Al-Hamid, a resident of Ramallah, warned that this religious coercion could cause the migration of artists, and said "The religious fanatics in Algeria destroyed every cultural symbol, shattered statues and rare works of art and liquidated intellectuals and artists, reporters and authors, ballet dancers and singers – are we going to imitate the Algerian and Afghani examples?"
Raï, sometimes written rai, is a form of Algerian folk music that dates back to the 1920s. Singers of Raï are called cheb as opposed to sheikh, the name given to Chaabi singers. The tradition arose in the city of Oran, primarily among the poor. Traditionally sung by men, by the end of the 20th century, female singers had become common. The lyrics of Raï have concerned social issues such as disease and the policing of European colonies that affected native populations.
The music of Israel is a combination of Jewish and non-Jewish music traditions that have come together over the course of a century to create a distinctive musical culture. For almost 150 years, musicians have sought original stylistic elements that would define the emerging national spirit. In addition to creating an Israeli style and sound, Israel's musicians have made significant contributions to classical, jazz, pop rock and other international music genres. Since the 1970s, there has been a flowering of musical diversity, with Israeli rock, folk and jazz musicians creating and performing extensively, both locally and abroad. Many of the world's top classical musicians are Israelis or Israeli expatriates. The works of Israeli classical composers have been performed by leading orchestras worldwide.
Tamer Nafar is a Palestinian Arab rapper, actor, screenwriter and social activist. He is the leader and a founding member of DAM, the first Palestinian hip hop group.
Israeli hip hop refers to hip hop and rap music in Israel.
Dabke is a native Levantine folk dance performed by the Lebanese, Jordanians, Syrians, Palestinians and Iraqis Dabke combines circle dance and line dancing and is widely performed at weddings and other joyous occasions. The line forms from right to left and leader of the dabke heads the line, alternating between facing the audience and the other dancers. In English, it can be transcribed as dabka, dabki, dabkeh.
Mizrahi music refers to a music genre in Israel that combines elements from Europe, North Africa and the Arab world, and is mainly performed by Israelis of Mizrahi descent. It is usually sung in Hebrew, literary Hebrew, or colloquial Arabic. The literal translation of Mizrahi from Hebrew is "Eastern".
Reem Kelani is a British Palestinian musician, born in Manchester, England. Initially influenced by the jazz music her father played on his record player, her interest in Palestinian music was sparked by the music at a family wedding in her maternal home in Galilee in the 1970s.
Arabic hip hop is hip hop music and culture originating in the Arabic-speaking world. It is performed in Arabic, English, French, Berber languages (Tamazight), and local Arabic dialects. Like most artists of the genre, the artists from the Arab world are highly influenced by American culture.
The Culture of Palestine is the culture of the Palestinian people, located across Historic Palestine as well as in the Palestinian diaspora. Palestinian culture is influenced by the many diverse cultures and religions which have existed in historic Palestine, from the early Canaanite period onward. Cultural contributions to the fields of art, literature, music, costume and cuisine express the Palestinian identity despite the geographical separation between the Palestinian territories, Palestinian citizens and the diaspora.
Zajal is a traditional form of oral strophic poetry declaimed in a colloquial dialect. While there is little evidence of the exact origins of the zajal, the earliest recorded zajal poet was the poet Ibn Quzman of al-Andalus who lived from 1078 to 1160. It is generally conceded that the early ancestors of Levantine dialectical poetry were the Andalusian zajal and muwashshaḥah, brought to Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean by Arabs fleeing Spain in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. An early master of Egyptian zajal was the fourteenth century zajjāl Abu ʿAbd Allāh al-Ghubārī. Zajal's origins may be ancient but it can be traced back to at least the 12th century. It is most alive in Lebanon today, and the Maghreb and particularly Algeria, and in the Levant, especially in Lebanon, Palestine and in Jordan where professional zajal practitioners can attain high levels of recognition and popularity. Zajal is semi-improvised and semi-sung and is often performed in the format of a debate between zajjalin. It is usually accompanied by percussive musical instruments and a chorus of men who sing parts of the verse.
Shlomo Gronich is an Israeli composer, singer, songwriter, arranger, and choir conductor.
Palestinian hip hop reportedly started in 1998 with Tamer Nafar's group DAM. These Palestinian youth forged the new Palestinian musical subgenre, which blends Arabic melodies and hip hop beats. Lyrics are often sung in Arabic, Hebrew, English, and sometimes French. Since then, the new Palestinian musical subgenre has grown to include artists in Palestine, Israel, Great Britain, the United States and Canada.
Arabic weddings have changed greatly in the past 100 years. Original traditional Arabic weddings are supposed to be very similar to modern-day Bedouin weddings and rural weddings, and they are in some cases unique from one region to another, even within the same country. it must be mentioned that what some people today call "Bedouin" wedding is in fact the original true traditional Arab Islamic wedding without foreign influence.
The ataaba is a traditional Arabic musical form sung at weddings or festivals, and sometimes also by people at work. Popular in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Jordan, it was originally a Bedouin genre, improvised by a solo poet-singer accompanying himself on the rababa. As part of the Palestinian folk music tradition, ataabas are generally performed by a vocal soloist, without instrumental accompaniment, who improvises the melody using folk poetry for the verse.
Not to be confused with Shazia Manzoor.
Rashid Hussein Mahmoud was a Palestinian poet, orator, journalist and Arabic-Hebrew translator. He was born in Musmus, Mandatory Palestine. He published his first collection in 1957. He was the first prominent poet to appear on the Israeli Arab stage. Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish called him "the star", who wrote about "human things" like bread, hunger and anger.
Arab folk dances, also referred to as Oriental dance, Middle-Eastern dance and Eastern dance, are the traditional folk dances of the Arabs in Arab world. Arab dance has many different styles, including the three main types of folklore, classical, and contemporary. It is enjoyed and implemented throughout the Arab region, from North Africa to the Middle East.
Bashar Murad is a Palestinian singer, songwriter, and social activist based in East Jerusalem. His music addresses societal norms, the Israeli Occupation, and LGBT+ rights in the Middle East. He is most commonly known for his collaboration with Icelandic band Hatari on the song Klefi / Samed (صامد), which was shortly released after Hatari raised the Palestinian flag at the grand finale of Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel.
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