Music of Lebanon
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The music of Lebanon has a long history. Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, has long been known, especially in a period immediately following World War II, for its art and intellectualism. Several singers emerged in this period, among the most famous Fairuz, Sabah, Wadih El Safi, Nasri Shamseddine, and in the early 1970s Salwa Katrib, Majida El Roumi, Ahmad Kaabour, and Marcel Khalife, an activist folk singer and oud player, and most importantly Ziad Rahbany who on top of being an engaged singer/songwriter and music composer, he was also a very popular playwright. 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 pop stars include Najwa Karam, Diana Haddad, Nawal Al Zoghbi, Haifa Wehbe, Elissa, Ragheb Alama, Ayman Zbib Walid Toufic, Wael Kfoury, Fares Karam, Amal Hijazi, Nancy Ajram, Melhem Zein, Fadel Shaker, Assi El Helani.
The annual Fête de la Musique, held in late June, brings the whole country out for organized and spontaneous underground concerts.
Influence of international popular music in Lebanon
The underground music scene became vibrant in Lebanon after the end of the civil war in 1990, spearheaded by singer/songwriter Tania Saleh and the 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 Rayess Bek, Fareeq El Atrash and ASHEKMAN became growing in popularity. Other Rock and Alternative Rock bands like Meen, Blend, Blaakyum, The Virtuals, The Kordz, Scrambled Eggs, Olden, Jay Wud and Mashrou' Leila are also getting popular.
Rock is very popular in Lebanon. During the Lebanese civil war, rock and hard rock and heavy metal were very popular. Bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Iron Maiden and Scorpions were extremely popular. In 1978, Rolling Stones booked a concert in Lebanon which was sold out in 5 hours. The concert was canceled, causing many Lebanese rock fans to burn tires on roads, blocking it of anger. Glam Rock was also very popular in Lebanon and still is. Bands like Bon Jovi, Guns N' Roses and Europe sold more than 3 million albums each.
Instruments of Lebanon
The lute is a word which comes from the Spanish laud, which came from the Arabic word for the instrument, al-ud (meaning the branch of a tree). The lute is shaped like a half pear with a short fretted neck. It has six sets of double strings and played with a pick, usually a trimmed eagle’s feather. This instrument has 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. It is played by breathing smoothly through a circular aperture at the end and by moving the fingers over the holes down the front of the tube in order to create the different notes. The minjjayrah is similar to the mijwiz, an open ended reed flute played in the same style. It is very popular among mountain villagers of Lebanon.
The tablah is a small hand-drum, also known as the durbakke. Most tablahs 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 percussion instrument, the tablah is a membranophone 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.
The daff, also known as the rikk, is a popular instrument corresponding to the 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 sets the rhythm of a lot of Arab music, particularly in classical performances.
The word buzuq comes from 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 that the viola is compared to the violin in Western music. Before the Rahbanis popularized the use of this instrument, the buzaq had been associated with the gypsy music of Lebanon. A long-necked fretted string instrument, the buzuq is furnished with two metal strings which are played with a plectrum. Famous Lebanese players of this instrument are Zaki Nassif, Philemon Wehbe, The Rahbani Brothers, Romeo Lahoud, Walid Gholmieh, and Boghos Gelalian.
- Badley, Bill and Zein al Jundi. "Europe Meets Asia". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 391–395. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books.