Fanack Home / Syria / Society, Media & Culture of Syria / Culture of Syria / Music and Dance in Syria

Music and Dance in Syria

Syria’s music is part of the Arab tradition. However, at the crossroads of different cultures, it also benefits from various other influences – Turkish, Kurdish, and Persian as well as Egyptian. Some singers are revered across the borders, such as the legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum and the Lebanese singer Fairuz. But the Syrians also have their own legendary singer-actor and ud player Farid al-Atrash (1915-1974). Singer Lena Chamamyan is also on her way to becoming a legend.

The ud is the traditional instrument. The Syrian ud is slightly larger and longer than the Persian or Turkish ud. It is still popular, and often played in small ensembles together with the kamanja (spike fiddle), qanun (box zither), darbuka (goblet drum), and daf (tambourine). These ensembles play traditional music such as muwashshah, which is especially popular in Aleppo and related to some forms of Andalusian music. Younger musicians sometimes mix the traditional instruments and sounds to make modern music and rhythms.

Jazz is very much alive in Syria. Every year in June, the Jazz Lives in Syria Festival is held both in Damascus and Aleppo. There is even a Syrian Jazz Orchestra; since the creation of this festival in 2005, at least eight new jazz bands have been founded. Guitarist Hannibal Saad’s big band includes singer Ribal al-Khudari, who is also known as a performer of more traditional music.

Traditional dances are still performed, such as the dabke, which varies according to the region, or the sama, which is still danced in Aleppo and is said to derive from a Sufi ceremony.

Lena Chamamyan
Umm Kulthum
Syrian ud

We would like to ask you something …

Fanack is an independent media organisation, not funded by any state or any interest group, that distributes in the Middle East and the wider world unbiased analysis and background information, based on facts, about the Middle East and North Africa.

The website grew rapidly in breadth and depth and today forms a rich and valuable source of information on 21 countries, from Morocco to Oman and from Iran to Yemen, both in Arabic and English. We currently reach six million readers annually and growing fast.

In order to guarantee the impartiality of information on the Chronicle, articles are published without by-lines. This also allows correspondents to write more freely about sensitive or controversial issues in their country. All articles are fact-checked before publication to ensure that content is accurate, current and unbiased.

To run such a website is very expensive. With a small donation, you can make a huge impact. And it only takes a minute. Thank you.