Egypt is one of the most ancient civilizations in the history of mankind. And music had been part of this great culture from long time ago. Many ancient music instrument has been discovered in Egypt although nobody knows how exactly the sound was or how they played them. For example some kind of flutes have been discovered on rock drawings and pottery from Egypt circa 3000 BCE. Or some kinds of harp, pipe and clarinet style music instruments have been found in Tombs circa 2686 BCE.
Cairo, capital of Egypt has been one of the main music centers in Middle East and Arab worlds. (with Syria, Lebanon and Iraq). Cairo has the biggest recording industry in Arab world.
Before Islam, folk music of Egypt was consist of Caravan songs and folk songs related to mundane life events. In the early days of Islam, folk music was permitted for entertainment and sometimes it was used for immoral behaviors. For example non Arab singing slave girls were used for entertainment. Their name were Qaynas. Of course later, they were banded by Islam.
Arabic Classical Music
The classical Arabic music which is also very common in Egypt as a traditional music. It is very similar to other classical music of countries in Middle East. It is said that it was started in 7th century in Syria and it was formed under the influence of modal music of Persia and India. This traditional music when it came to Egypt it had also influence of Greek music. One of most significant aspect of this traditional music is quarter notes, which gives very special taste to the music and its feeling. Egyptians generally are very fond of this music.
This type of folk music is related to Nubian people. They live in south of Egypt and north of Sudan. Also many of them today live in Cairo. In the traditional way, Nubian music accompanied by daf (kind of drum) and hand clapping. One of the most significant Nubian musicians was Ali Hassan Kuban. He was known as the “Captain” or “Godfather” of Nubian music. He converted traditional Nubian music into urban music by inspiring from jazz bands in Cairo night clubs. Hamza el-Din is also another important Nubian musician who collaborated with many western musicians.
Saidi (Upper Egyptian)
Egyptian musicians from Upper Egypt play a form of folk music called Saidi (Upper Egyptian). It is played with the flutes, the oboes, the two-stringed fiddles style instrument, and impassioned vocalism and drumming of a peasant culture with strong gypsy roots, in which popular and classical met.
This type of folk music is in fact street music and pop Arabic music. It is one of the most popular music of Egypt and today it is also mixed with different western music genres. Ahmed Adaweyah was one of the most important singers of Shaabi music.
Some of the instrument which are used in folk music of Egypt are oud (kind of lute), rahab (kind of bowed single stringed), qanon (kind of zither), violin, nay or ney (end blown flute), darabukka (kind of goblet drum), and daff(kind of frame drum). In the early times of 20th century, typical Arabic orchestral was consist of oud, qanun, ney and violin. The name of ensemble was “takht” which means “sofa”.
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