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Music of Lebanon
Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, has long been known, especially in a period immediately following World War 2, for its art and intellectualism. Several singers emerged in this period, most famously including Feirouz, Sabah, Wadii El Safi, Majida El Roumi, Nasri Shamsiddine, Ziad Rahbani and Marcel Khalifa an activist folk singer and Oud player. During the fifteen-year civil war, most of the Lebanese music stars moved to Cairo or Paris, with a large music scene in Beirut only returning after 1992. Modern stars include Najwa Karam, Diana Haddad, Nawal Al Zoghbi, Ramy Ayash, Haifa Wehbe, Elissa, Ragheb Alama, Walid Toufic, Wael Kfoury, Amal Hijazi, Nancy Ajram, Melhem Zein, Fadhil Shaker, The 4 Cats, Aasi El Helani and Moniem who is well known for his extraordinary talent in playing Oud, Cello, Guitar, Qanoon, Buzuq, along with song writing, music composing and singing in many languages including English.
The underground music scene is equally vibrant, spearheaded by rock-pop duo Soap Kills but expanding to include a number of groups from a wide array of genres. Underground Arab hip hop groups, such as the Lil' G'z, Rayess Bek Kitaayoun and Ramez in particular are growing in popularity and alternative Lebanese rock as Meen. The annual Fête de la Musique, held in late June, brings the whole country out for organized and spontaneous underground concerts.
Music has played an important role in Lebanese cultural and religious traditions for millennia. In addition to the voice, traditional music incorporates instruments such as the Oud, the Derbakki (a kind of drum also known as the Tabla), and the Ney.
Le Conservatoire libanais national supérieur de musique or The Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music is the heart of the classical music world in Lebanon, and home to both the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra and the Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music.
A few Instruments of the Lebanese Sound
One popular instrument used in Lebanese music is the lute. The word lute is an English word which came from the Spanish laud, the laud which originally came from the Arabic word and instrument al-Oud (meaning the branch of wood). The lute is shaped like a half pear with a short fretted neck, it is a six courses of two-strings instrument played with a plectrum-regularly a trimmed eagle’s feather. This instrument creates a deep and mellow sound.
The Mijwiz which literally means “double” in Arabic is a very popular instrument used in Lebanese music. It is a type of reed clarinet and it is played by breathing smoothly through a circular aperture at the end and by operating the fingers over the holes down the front of the tube in order to create specific sounds. The minjjayrah is very related to the mijwiz, it is an open ended reed flute played in the same style, very popular among mountain villagers of Lebanon.
The Tabla is a small hand-drum also known as the Derbakki. Most Tablas are beautifully decorated, some with wood, tile or bone inlay, etched metal, or paintings in designs typical of the Near East. One of the most commonly played of the percussion instruments; the Tabla is a membrane of goat or fish skin stretched over a vase-shaped drum with a wide neck. Usually made of earthenware or metal, it is placed either under the left arm or between the legs and struck in the middle for the strong beats and on the edge for the sharp in-between beats.
Also known as the Riqq, the Deff is the Arabic name for the popular instrument corresponding to the English tambourine. It consists of a round frame, covered on one side with goat or fish skin. Pairs of metal discs are set into the frame to produce the jingle when struck by the hand. The sounds of this percussion instrument set the rhythm of much Arab music, particularly in the performances of classical pieces.
The word Buzuq comes from the Turkish and occurs in 'bashi-buzuq,' the name given to the Ottoman troops, literally meaning 'burnt head' or 'uprooted.' The Buzuq, which is an essential instrument in the Rahbani repertoire, is a hybrid instrument that is not classified among the classical instruments of Arab music or among those of Turkish music. However, this instrument may be looked upon as a larger and deeper-toned relative of the Turkish Saz, to which it could be compared in the same way as the viola to the violin in Western music. Before the Rahbani’s popularized the use of this instrument, the Buzuq had been associated with the gypsy music of Lebanon. A long-necked fretted string instrument, the Buzuq is furnished with 2 metal strings which are played with a plectrum.
The Dabke of Lebanon
In the olden days, before tiled roofs were installed on Lebanese homes, their flat roofs were made of tree branches that were topped with mud. When the change of seasons came, especially winter, the mud would crack and start to leak and would need to be fixed. The owner of the house would call his neighbors for help- Al-Awneh- and the neighbors would gather up on the roof. They would hold hands, form a line and start stomping their feet while walking on the roof in order to adjust the mud. After a while, Al-Awneh, became to be known as Daloonah, a form of improvised singing and dancing the dabke. A Derbakki, nay and a mijwiz were added in order to keep the men going in the cold weather (it helped stimulate the blood pressure to produce more energy). As time emerged, the Dabke dance came to be known one of Lebanon's most famous traditions. Today Dabke is performed in every Lebanese household. The Dabke is made livelier, when friends and families gather around the Lebanese mezze with Arak or wine and begin to perform this dance.
Dabke is the national dance of Lebanon and Lebanese take pride in their skills in dabke dancing. Young and old, men and women participate in this festive dance. Dabke is a traditional line dance and it is sometimes compared to Irish step dancing, the Greek Hassapiko and the Jewish hora.
Dabke is best sang in Lebanese mountain dialects, many great dabke singers include Tony Kaiwan, Assi El Helani, Fares Karam, Feirouz, Najwa Karam and many more. Dal'ouna and Howaara are famous Lebanese dabke songs popularized through out the Levant.
Lebanese Dialect Lebanese Singers
Lebanese singers sing in either Lebanese or Egyptian dialect. Lebanese artists are very distinct due to the fact of their Lebanese dialect. Feirouz sparks Lebanese national pride with her songs such as Behibbak ya Lebnan (I love you Lebanon) and Ya Hawa Beirut. Another famous Lebanese singer known for her powerful voice is Najwa Karam. While other Lebanese singers have followed the trend of more fast paced Egyptian dialectic music (due to the large population of Egyptian dialect speaking persons) a few singers such as Feirouz and Najwa have stayed grounded with their traditional Lebanese dialect.
Information courtesy of Wikipedia Encyclopedia