Arabic music has a long rich history dating thousands of years into the past and has had a profound influence on our modern world music today. Without the inventions of ancient instruments like the Oud, Rehab and the Tar we wouldn’t have our modern instruments of the lute, violin and guitar. Early Arabic music was said to have been given to poets and musicians by Jinns and consisted of poetry recited to high notes of music and was sung to audiences by women with beautiful voices.
Arabic music has been for thousands of years about more than just the performance though. It is based on the Maqam system of music and has been written about in treatises and articles by some of the leading scholars of the ancient world like Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi and Safi al-Din. These writings had influences on the musicians and composers of the Baroque and Renaissance and, through music of those times, can still be said to have influence today.
Skip forwards to the modern day and Arabic music still hasn’t lost its importance or influence in today’s world. Without artists like Abdel Halim Hafez and Dick Dale we wouldn’t have had Surf Music which led to bands like The Beach Boys and other genres of music like garage and punk. Arabic music is also a leading influence in flamenco music and French music, to name but two. In fact, worldwide Arabic music has become more accessible to ‘mainstream’ music tastes thanks to the influence of artists like Amr Diab and his hit song Habibi ya Nour El Ain. With this consumption of Arab music by ‘mainstream’ non-Arab crowds, not only has Arabic music become more accessible but also the culture and traditions that influence this music have become better understood by the rest of the world.
But don’t think for a moment that Arabic music is stuck in the past; it too is influenced by today’s modern world. There has been a rise in the influence of Reggie, R&B and hip hop amongst today’s contemporary Arab artists and thanks to this and the use of modern electric instruments Arabic music looks set to continue being an important influence on world music in the future.
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