Music of Syria

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A group of Syrian musicians from Aleppo P1480908 Ensemble Ramel Aleppo (16163468170).jpg
A group of Syrian musicians from Aleppo

The music of Syria may refer to musical traditions and practices in modern-day Syria (as opposed to Greater Syria), merging the habits of people who settled in Syria throughout its history. Syria was long one of the Arab world's centers for musical innovation in the field of classical Arab music; for example, the city of Aleppo is known for its muwashshah music, which was specially conceived to accompany Andalusian muwashshah poetry.

Syria Country in Western Asia

Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turkemens. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis, and Jews. Sunnis make up the largest religious group in Syria.

Greater Syria irredentism

Greater Syria, also "Natural Syria" or "Northern Country" Arabic: بِلَاد الشَّام‎, romanized: Bilād ash-Shām, is a Levantine region which extends roughly over the medieval Arab Caliphate province of Bilad al-Sham. The Hellenistic name of the region, "Syria", was used by the Ottomans in the Syria Vilayet until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The wave of Arab nationalism in the region evolved towards the creation of a new "Great Syria" over French-governed Occupied Enemy Territory Administration, declared as Hashemite Kingdom on March 1920, claiming extent over the entire Levant. Following the Franco-Syrian War, in July 1920, French armies defeated the newly proclaimed Arab Kingdom of Syria and captured Damascus, aborting the Arab state. The area was consequently partitioned under French and British Mandates into Greater Lebanon, various Syrian states, Mandatory Palestine and Transjordan. Syrian states were gradually unified as the State of Syria and became the independent Republic of Syria in 1946.

Arab world Geographic and cultural region in Africa and the Middle East

The Arab world, also known as the Arab nation, the Arabsphere or the Arab states, currently consists of the 22 Arabic-speaking countries that make up the members of the Arab League. These countries occupy the Middle East, North Africa and parts of East Africa; areas stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean in the southeast. The contemporary Arab world has a combined population of around 422 million inhabitants, over half of whom are under 25 years of age.


Folk music

Folk music of Syria is for the most part based on the oud, which is a stringed instrument considered to be the ancestor of the European lute, as well as the flute nay and hand-held percussion instruments, such as the darbouka, daf or riq. Other typical instruments are the qanun and kamanjah. [1] In semi-Nomadic regions, Bedouin music which is based on the Mizmar, zurna and rababah is popular.

Oud pear-shaped stringed instrument

The oud is a short-neck lute-type, pear-shaped stringed instrument with 11 or 13 strings grouped in 5 or 6 courses, commonly used predominantly in the music of the Western Asia and North Africa, including Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, the Jewish diaspora, Iraq, Palestine, Kurdistan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Armenia, Greece, Turkey, Azerbaijan, North African Chaabi, Classical, and Andalusian classic music.

Lute musical instrument

A lute is any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back enclosing a hollow cavity, usually with a sound hole or opening in the body. More specifically, the term "lute" can refer to an instrument from the family of European lutes. The term also refers generally to any string instrument having the strings running in a plane parallel to the sound table. The strings are attached to pegs or posts at the end of the neck, which have some type of turning mechanism to enable the player to tighten the tension on the string or loosen the tension before playing, so that each string is tuned to a specific pitch. The lute is plucked or strummed with one hand while the other hand "frets" the strings on the neck's fingerboard. By pressing the strings on different places of the fingerboard, the player can shorten or lengthen the part of the string that is vibrating, thus producing higher or lower pitches (notes).

Flute Musical instrument of the woodwind family

The flute is a family of musical instruments in the woodwind group. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening. According to the instrument classification of Hornbostel–Sachs, flutes are categorized as edge-blown aerophones. A musician who plays the flute can be referred to as a flute player, flautist, flutist or, less commonly, fluter or flutenist.

As in other countries, modern Syrian music notably contrasts its folk music. It uses an orchestra of mostly European instruments with one lead vocalist and sometimes a backup chorus. [1] This type of music is very popular in the Middle East. Famous singers are Assala nasri , Farid al-Atrash, Fahd Ballan, Sabah Fakhri, Mayada El Hennawy and George Wassouf. [2]

Orchestra large instrumental ensemble

An orchestra is a large instrumental ensemble typical of classical music, which combines instruments from different families, including bowed string instruments such as the violin, viola, cello, and double bass, brass instruments such as the horn, trumpet, trombone and tuba, woodwinds such as the flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon, and percussion instruments such as the timpani, bass drum, triangle, snare drum, cymbals, and mallet percussion instruments each grouped in sections. Other instruments such as the piano and celesta may sometimes appear in a fifth keyboard section or may stand alone, as may the concert harp and, for performances of some modern compositions, electronic instruments.

Farid al-Atrash Singer, composer, musician

Farid al-Atrash, also written Farid El-Atrache, was an Syrian composer, singer, virtuoso oud player, and actor. Having immigrated to Egypt at the age of nine years old with his mother and siblings, Al-Atrash embarked on a highly successful career spanning more than four decades—recording 500 songs and starring in 31 movies. Sometimes referred to as "King of the Oud", he is one of the most important figures of 20th century Arab music.

Fahd Ballan Syrian musician

Fahd Ballan was a popular Syrian Druze singer and actor. Like most of his generation of artists who started their show business careers in the early sixties he was exposed to a world of influences of those decades of music glory. His voice and looks made him a symbol of masculinity and won him many acting roles in his youth.

Classical Arab music

A typical Syrian classical genre is the Muwashshah that goes back to Medieval times. Performed by a lead singer or a choir, it consists of a classical form of Arabic poetry set to music. It usually consists of a multi-lined strophic verse poem written in classical Arabic, mostly consisting of five stanzas, which alternates with a refrain with a running rhyme. The muwashshah is usually opened with one or two lines matching the second part of the poem in rhyme and meter.


Muwashshah is the name for both an Arabic poetic form and a secular musical genre. The poetic form consists of a multi-lined strophic verse poem written in classical Arabic, usually consisting of five stanzas, alternating with a refrain with a running rhyme. It was customary to open with one or two lines which matched the second part of the poem in rhyme and meter; in North Africa poets ignore the strict rules of Arabic meter while the poets in the East follow them. The musical genre of the same name uses muwaššaḥ texts as lyrics, still in classical Arabic. This tradition can take two forms: the waṣla of Aleppo and the Andalusi nubah of the western part of the Arab world.

The city of Aleppo in Northern Syria is considered to be the centre of muwashshah.

Aleppo City in Aleppo Governorate, Syria

Aleppo is a city in Syria, serving as the capital of the Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 4.6 million in 2010, Aleppo was the largest Syrian city before the Syrian Civil War; however, now Aleppo is probably the second-largest city in Syria after the capital Damascus.

Syriac music

Syria, being one of the countries where Christianity had originated, has a long history of church music. It is the origin of the Christian hymnody, which was entirely developed in Syria. [3] And its style of chant, the Syrian chant which continues to be the liturgical music of some of the various Syrian Christians, is the oldest in the world.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

Syriac Christianity

Syriac Christianity is the form of Eastern Christianity whose formative theological writings and traditional liturgy are expressed in the Syriac language. Syriac Christianity consists of two liturgical rites, the East Syriac Rite and the West Syriac Rite. The main Anaphora of the East Syriac tradition is the Holy Qurbana of Saints Addai and Mari, while that of the West Syriac tradition is the Divine Liturgy of Saint James.

There was formerly a distinctive tradition of Syrian Jewish religious music, which still flourishes in Syrian-Jewish communities around the world, such as New York City, Mexico City and Buenos Aires: see The Weekly Maqam, Baqashot and Pizmonim.


One of the most popular dances in Syria is the Dabkeh, a folk dance combining circle dancing and line dancing formed from right to left and headed by a leader which alternates between facing the audience and other dancers. It is mostly performed at weddings and other joyous occasions. Other popular folklore dances include the "Arāḍa" (Arabic : عراضة), a dance performed with swords, as well as oriental dance for women.

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Related Research Articles

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 music of the Arab world

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.


A kharja or kharjah (Arabic: خرجة‎ tr. kharjah[ˈxærʒɐ], meaning "final"; Spanish: jarcha[ˈxaɾtʃa]; Portuguese: carja[ˈkaɾʒɐ]; also known as markaz, is the final refrain of a muwashshah, a lyric genre of Al-Andalus written in Arabic or Ibero-Romance.

Music of Palestine

The music of Palestine 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.

Music of Djibouti

The music of Djibouti refers to the musical styles, techniques and sounds of Djibouti.

Tunisia is a North African country with a predominantly Arabic-speaking population. The country is best known for malouf, a kind of music imported from Andalusia after the Spanish immigration in the 15th century. Though in its modern form, malouf is likely very dissimilar to any music played more than four centuries ago, it does have its roots in Spain and Portugal, and is closely related to genres with a similar history throughout North Africa, including malouf's Libyan cousin, Algerian gharnati and Moroccan ala or Andalusi. During the Ottoman era, malouf was influenced by Turkish music. However, Tunisian repertoires, styles and also instruments remain distinctive – the ʻūd tūnsī is an emblematic case. This is a close relative of the 'uds associated with Algeria and also Morocco.

Arabic poetry form of poetry

Arabic poetry is the earliest form of Arabic literature. Present knowledge of poetry in Arabic dates from the 6th century, but oral poetry is believed to predate that.

Berber music refers to the musical traditions of the Berbers, an ethnic group native to the Maghreb, as well as parts of the Sahara, Nile Valley, West Africa. Berber music varies widely across North-West Africa and some of the best known varieties can be found in Moroccan music; Kabyle, Chawi and Gasba music from Algeria; and Tuareg from Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.

Sabah Fakhri Syrian singer

Sabah Abu Qaws, also known as Sabah Fakhri, is an iconic Syrian tenor singer from Aleppo.


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.

Pizmonim are traditional Jewish songs and melodies sung with the intention of praising God as well as learning certain aspects of traditional religious teachings. They are sung throughout religious rituals and festivities such as prayers, circumcisions, bar mitzvahs, weddings and other ceremonies.

The Baqashot are a collection of supplications, songs, and prayers that have been sung by the Sephardic Syrian, Moroccan, and Turkish Jewish communities for centuries each week on Shabbat mornings from the early hours of the morning until dawn. They are usually recited during the weeks of winter, from the Jewish festival of Sukkot through Purim, when the nights are much longer. The baqashot services can last for three to four hours. The Ades Synagogue in Jerusalem is the center of the Syrian practice today, and communities in Ashdod and Montreal are the center of the Moroccan practice.

Culture of Syria culture of an area

Syria is a traditional society with a long cultural history. Importance is placed on family, religion, education and self-discipline and respect. The Syrian's taste for the traditional arts is expressed in dances such as the al-Samah, the Dabkeh in all their variations and the sword dance. Marriage ceremonies are occasions for the lively demonstration of folk customs.

This article describes the principal types of religious Jewish music from the days of the Temple to modern times.

Pashto music

Pashto music is commonly performed in Afghanistan, mostly in the eastern parts and among the Pashtun diaspora, Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, northern Balochistan province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The major center for Pashto music and arts is found in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Assyrian folk/pop music Wikimedia list article

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. Assyrian songs are usually lengthy, tending to be around 5 minutes long on average.

Qudud Halabiya literally means musical measures of Aleppo, is a form of Syrian Arab classical music found in both Arabic poetic form and secular musical genre. The poetic form is based on Andalous-era poetry sung in classical Arabic, and closely related with the Muwashshat.

Yemenite Jewish poetry, often referred to as "paraliturgical poetry" because of its religious nature, has been an integral part of Yemenite Jewish culture since time immemorial. The Jews of Yemen have preserved a well-defined singing arrangement which not only includes the very poetic creation itself, but also involves a vocal and dance performance, accompanied in certain villages outside Sana'a by drumming on an empty tin-can (tankah) or a copper plate. The Jews of Yemen, maintaining strict adherence to Talmudic and Maimonidean halakha, observed the gezeirah which prohibited playing musical instruments, and "instead of developing the playing of musical instruments, they perfected singing and rhythm." This arrangement was integrated into the walks of life familiar to the Jews of Yemen. The texts used in the arrangement were put down in writing and later included in separate song collections (dīwāns). The social strictures and norms in Yemenite Jewish culture provide for separate settings for men and for women, where the sexes are never mixed. Men’s song usually expressed the national aspirations of the Jewish people, and it was far removed from the singing associated with the Muslim environment, whereas folk songs of Jewish women were sung by rote memory and expressed the happiness and sorrows inherent in their daily life and was, as a rule, closer to that of Muslim women.

Arab dance

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.


  1. 1 2 South, Coleman; Jermyn, Leslie (2005). Syria. p. 102. ISBN   9780761420545.
  2. "Music of Syria". Traditional Arabic music. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  3. Apel, Willi (1969). Harvard Dictionary of Music . Harvard University Press. ISBN   9780674375017.