Music of Lebanon

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, Melhem Barakat, Salwa Katrib, Majida El Roumi, Ahmad Kaabour, Marcel Khalife, (activist folk singer and oud player), and Ziad Rahbany, who—in addition to being an engaged singer-songwriter and music composer—was also a popular playwright. Lydia Canaan was hailed by the media as the first rock star of the Middle East.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

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, Elissa, Ragheb Alama, Walid Toufic, Wael Kfoury, Fares Karam, Amal Hijazi, Nancy Ajram, Melhem Zein, Fadel Shaker, Assi El Helani, Myriam Fares, and Yara.

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

Rock is very popular in Lebanon. During the Lebanese Civil War, rock, 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 five hours. The concert was canceled, causing many Lebanese rock fans to burn tires on roads, blocking it of anger.

During the Lebanese Civil War, Lydia Canaan's initial performances under the stage name Angel[7] were historically unprecedented on more than one front; her career began with her risking her life to perform amidst enemy military attacks, her concerts literally being held in vicinities of Lebanon which were simultaneously being bombed. According to Arabian Woman magazine: "As...A girl who grew up in the midst of a bloody civil war...Canaan was breaking down seemingly insurmountable barriers...She rocked the establishment".[8] As noted by The Gulf Today: "It is incredible that amidst the state of civil war that existed in Lebanon at that time, when most people had no idea if they would see another day, she managed to keep her ambitions alive".[7] Society magazine attests: "In a small country that was ripped by war, there was this young girl making a difference".[9] Concerning Canaan's first concert as Angel, The Gulf Today writes: "The first show produced a phenomenal reaction".[7] Society magazine states: "Tickets were sold out but more teenagers stormed in to see the young Angel perform...To accommodate the crowd, the concert organizers had to stamp on each fan's hand as they ran out of tickets. It was...Her first success".[9]

The underground music scene became vibrant in Lebanon after the end of the civil war in 1990, spearheaded by the rock-pop duo Soap Kills. Various rock and alternative rock bands such Meen and Mashrou' Leila are also gaining in popularity. New indie artists such as IJK (singer songwriter) are also increasingly recording in the West and releasing materials in English.

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.


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 daf, 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.

See also


  1. ^ O'Connor, Tom. "Lydia Canaan One Step Closer to Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame", The Daily Star, Beirut, April 27, 2016.
  2. ^ Salhani, Justin. "Lydia Canaan: The Mideast’s First Rock Star", The Daily Star, Beirut, November 17, 2014.
  3. ^ Livingstone, David. "A Beautiful Life; Or, How a Local Girl Ended Up With a Recording Contract in the UK and Who Has Ambitions in the U.S.", Campus, No. 8, p. 2, Beirut, February 1997.
  4. ^ Ajouz, Wafik. "From Broumana to the Top Ten: Lydia Canaan, Lebanon's 'Angel' on the Road to Stardom", Cedar Wings, No. 28, p. 2, Beirut, July–August 1995.
  5. ^ Aschkar, Youmna. "New Hit For Lydia Canaan", Eco News, No. 77, p. 2, Beirut, January 20, 1997.
  6. ^ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives – Lydia Canaan Subject File
  7. ^ a b c Chandran, Sudha. "An Angel's Song", The Gulf Today, Sharjah, November 24, 2000.
  8. ^ High, Claire. "With Her Debut Album, The Sound of Love, Recorded in English, Lebanese Singer Lydia Canaan is Tipped to Be the First Middle-Eastern Female Singer to Break into the International Market", Arabian Woman, No. 21, Saudi Arabia, September 2000.
  9. ^ a b Habib, Hala. "Lydia Canaan: A Star is Born to The Sound of Love", Society, No. 3, Beirut, February 1997.


  • 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.

External links

50 great voices

50 great voices is a NPR yearlong series of 2010 to 2011 to profile 50 singers who have made their mark internationally and across recorded history revealing the selected voices one by one about weekly.

Aline Khalaf

Aline Khalaf (Arabic: إلين خلف‎; born 24 April 1974) is a Lebanese singer.

Amal Hijazi

Amal Hijazi (Arabic: أمل حجازي‎; born February 20, 1977) is a Lebanese singer. Hijazi released her debut album, Akher Gharam, in 2001, followed by her second album, Zaman in mid-2002. This album included four number one hit singles, "Zaman", "Oulhali", "Einak" and "Romansyia". Her third album Bedawwar A Albi was released in early 2004 followed by the release of her fourth album Baya al Ward in 2006. The album's breakthrough song of the same name caused the entertainer to face negative critical publicity and a number of controversies.

Hijazi remained at the forefront of pop music with the release of her Gulf single "Nefsy Tefhamny" in 2007. She released her fifth studio album, Keef el Amar, in 2008.


The buzuq (Arabic: بزق‎; also transliterated bozuq, bouzouk, buzuk etc.) is a long-necked fretted lute related to the Greek bouzouki and Turkish saz. It is an essential instrument in the Rahbani repertoire, but it is not classified among the classical instruments of Arab or Turkish music. However, this instrument may be looked upon as a larger and deeper-toned relative of the saz, to which it could be compared in the same way as the viola to the violin in Western music. Before the Rahbanis popularized the use of this instrument, the buzuq had been associated with the music of Lebanon and Syria.

Unlike the short-necked unfretted oud, the buzuq has a longer neck, smaller body and frets tied to the neck, which can be moved to produce the microtonal intervals used in the many maqamat (musical modes). Typically, it is furnished with two courses of metal strings which are played with a plectrum, offering a metallic yet lyrical resonance. Some instruments have three courses and up to seven strings total.

The name of the instrument may come from Turkish bozuk (broken or disorderly), it refers to Bozuk düzen bağlama, a tuning of Turkish baglama. Another theory on the origin of the name is that it comes from the Persian expression tanbur e bozorg, meaning a large tanbur style lute.


Chalga (often referred to as pop-folk, short for "popular folk") is a Bulgarian music genre. Chalga or pop-folk is essentially a folk-inspired dance music genre, with a blend of Bulgarian music (Bulgarian ethno-pop genre) and also primary influences from Greek, Turkish and Arabic.

Coma Dance Festival

Dance Music Festival which took place on 14 November 2008, twenty minutes of the coast of Abu Dhabi, UAE and 15 November in Forum de Beirut, Lebanon. The festival were proclaimed the first festival dedicated to dance music in the Middle East.

Ehmej Festival

Ehmej Festival is a music festival held annually (since 2011) in Ehmej, a municipality located about 57 km north of Beirut, in the Jbeil District. The festival's aims are to boost tourism, promote the Lebanese culture, and spread music and art from Jbeil to the rest of the Lebanese area.

Iwan (singer)

Mohammed Marwan Ba'aseery (Arabic: محمد مروان بعاصيري‎) (born 16 August 1980), known as Iwan (Arabic: إيوان‎) is a Lebanese singer of Lebanese and Syrian origin He started his musical career as a songwriter by composing music for other artists. In 2003, Iwan started his own solo singer, enjoying widespread success in the Middle East and introduced Iwan to the Arabic public as a talented singer. He has released three albums: the debut Alby Sahran (2004) and Erga' Leya (2007) and Ya 100 Nawart (2017)

Keef el Amar

Keef el Amar (Like The Moon) is Amal Hijazi's fifth studio album it has been released on March 31, 2008. The first video clip, "Ahla Ma Fel Eyyam", has been released in the same day. A romantic ballad song in the Egyptian dialect, the song was composed by Nour, written by Ahmed Ali Mousa and arranged by Tarek Tawakoul.

In addition the album includes "Nefsy Tefhamny" ("I Wish You Could Understand Me"), which Hijazi released as a single in mid-2007.

Amal stated that this album will be her most diverse yet and fans have been eagerly awaiting it.The album became a huge success throughout the Middle East and Hijazi went on tour for number of musical concerts in Egypt and in the Gulf countries.

The photograph for the album cover was taken by David Abdullah and was designed by George Yousif.

The album's first single, "Haseebak Terenn" was released in early 2008.

Layal Abboud

Layal Mounir Abboud (Arabic: ليال منير عبود‎, pronounced [laj'ja:l ʕab'bu:d] (listen); born 15 May 1982) is a Lebanese pop singer, folk music entertainer, sound-lyric poet, concert dancer, fit model and Muslim humanitarian.Born to a musical family in the Southern Lebanese Tyrian village of Kniseh, Abboud is a former ISF officer and studied English literature at Lebanese University, translation at Beirut Arab University and musical expression at the American University of Science and Technology. She appeared for the first time in the Studio El-Fan series debuts as a South Lebanese competitor from 2001–02. Abboud's musical career flourished with the release of her first album Fi Shouq (Arabic: في شوق‎: on longing) published in late 2007. Sings in different Arabic dialects, famous for her presentation of Lebanese folklore music and internal summer concerts and tours. Abboud is a singer member in the Syndicate of Professional Artists in Lebanon.


Lebanon ( (listen); Arabic: لبنان‎ Lubnān; Lebanese pronunciation: [lɪbˈnɛːn]; French: Liban), officially known as the Lebanese Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية اللبنانية‎ al-Jumhūrīyah al-Lubnānīyah; Lebanese pronunciation: [elˈʒʊmhuːɾɪjje lˈlɪbnɛːnɪjje]; French: République libanaise), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south, while Cyprus is west across the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon's location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland facilitated its rich history and shaped a cultural identity of religious and ethnic diversity. At just 10,452 km2 (4,036 sq. mi.), it is the smallest recognized sovereign state on the mainland Asian continent.The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon dates back more than seven thousand years, predating recorded history. Lebanon was the home of the Canaanites/Phoenicians and their kingdoms, a maritime culture that flourished for over a thousand years (c. 1550–539 BC). In 64 BC, the region came under the rule of the Roman Empire, and eventually became one of the Empire's leading centers of Christianity. In the Mount Lebanon range a monastic tradition known as the Maronite Church was established. As the Arab Muslims conquered the region, the Maronites held onto their religion and identity. However, a new religious group, the Druze, established themselves in Mount Lebanon as well, generating a religious divide that has lasted for centuries. During the Crusades, the Maronites re-established contact with the Roman Catholic Church and asserted their communion with Rome. The ties they established with the Latins have influenced the region into the modern era.

The region eventually was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from 1516 to 1918. Following the collapse of the empire after World War I, the five provinces that constitute modern Lebanon came under the French Mandate of Lebanon. The French expanded the borders of the Mount Lebanon Governorate, which was mostly populated by Maronites and Druze, to include more Muslims. Lebanon gained independence in 1943, establishing confessionalism, a unique, Consociationalism-type of political system with a power-sharing mechanism based on religious communities. Bechara El Khoury, President of Lebanon during the independence, Riad El-Solh, first Lebanese prime minister and Emir Majid Arslan II, first Lebanese minister of defence, are considered the founders of the modern Republic of Lebanon and are national heroes for having led the country's independence. Foreign troops withdrew completely from Lebanon on 31 December 1946, although the country was subjected to military occupations by Syria that lasted nearly thirty years before being withdrawn in April 2005 as well as the Israeli military in Southern Lebanon for fifteen years.

Despite its small size, the country has developed a well-known culture and has been highly influential in the Arab world, powered by its large diaspora. Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the country experienced a period of relative calm and renowned prosperity, driven by tourism, agriculture, commerce, and banking. Because of its financial power and diversity in its heyday, Lebanon was referred to as the "Switzerland of the East" during the 1960s, and its capital, Beirut, attracted so many tourists that it was known as "the Paris of the Middle East". At the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure. In spite of these troubles, Lebanon has the 7th highest Human Development Index and GDP per capita in the Arab world after the oil-rich economies of the Persian Gulf. Lebanon has been a member of the United Nations since its founding in 1945 as well as of the Arab League (1945), the Non-Aligned Movement (1961), Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (1969) and the Organisation internationale de la francophonie (1973).


Manele (from Romanian, fem. sg. manea; pl. manele, the plural form being more common) is a genre of pop folk music from Romania.

The manele can be divided into "classical manele" and "modern manele". The "classical manele" are a Turkish-derived genre performed by lăutari in a lăutărească manner, while the "modern manele" are a mixture of Turkish, Greek, Arabic, Bulgarian and Serbian elements, generally using modern (electronic) instruments and beats.

Similar music styles are also present in other Balkan areas, like Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia, Greece and Turkey and with expatriates and emigrants originally from these regions. Related genres are Bulgarian Chalga (manele brought by Romanian visitors to Bulgaria is referred to as "Romanian chalga"), Greek modern Skiladiko and Serbian Turbo-folk, each one being a mixture of local folk Greek, Bulgarian and Serbian influences over a pop tune.

Music of Asia

Asian music encompasses numerous different musical styles originating from a large number of Asian countries.

Musical traditions in Asia

Music of Central Asia

Music of Afghanistan (when included in the definition of Central Asia)

Music of Kazakhstan

Music of Kyrgyzstan

Music of Tajikistan

Music of Turkmenistan

Music of Uzbekistan

Music of East Asia

Music of China

Music of Hong Kong

Music of Japan

Music of Korea

Music of North Korea

Music of South Korea

Music of Mongolia

Music of Tibet

Music of South Asia

Asian Underground

Music of Afghanistan

Music of Bangladesh

Music of Bhutan

Music of India


Music of the Maldives

Music of Nepal

Music of Pakistan

Music of Sri Lanka

Music of Southeast Asia

Music of Indonesia

Music of Laos

Music of Malaysia

Music of the Philippines

Music of Singapore

Music of Thailand

Music of Vietnam

Music of West Asia (Middle East)

Arabic music

Music of Bahrain

Music of Jordan

Music of Iraq

Music of Lebanon

Music of Palestine

Music of Saudi Arabia

Music of Syria

Music of the United Arab Emirates

Music of Yemen

Music of Armenia

Assyrian/Syriac folk music

Music of Azerbaijan

Music of Cyprus

Music of Georgia

Music of Iran

Music of Israel

Diaspora Jewish music

Kurdish music

Music of Turkey

Najwa Karam

Najwa Karam (Arabic: نجوى كرم‎ Lebanese pronunciation: [ˈnaʒwa ˈkaɾam]) is a Lebanese multi-Platinum singer, songwriter, and fashion icon who has sold over 60 million albums worldwide. Karam, widely known for her vocal powerhouse Mawwal talents, gained an international audience for her distinct blend of traditional Lebanese music and contemporary sounds and contributed to the spread of the Lebanese dialect in Arabic Music. She is well-known as Lebanese Myriam Hernandez.In 2011, Karam debuted as a judge on the reality competition television series, Arabs Got Talent; she has since appeared on all six of its seasons. As one of the highest selling Arabic language singers, Karam holds the records for highest selling Arabic language album during the years of 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2008. 2011. In 2017, Forbes Middle East ranked Karam number 5 on the list of "The Top 100 Arab Celebrities" with 26.58 million social media followers. In 2018, Cosmopolitan included Karam on their list of "The 15 Most Inspiring Women In The Middle East", and Forbes included her on their list of the "Top 10 of Arab Stars On The Global Stage".

Karam rose to stardom throughout the 1990s, earning the moniker, Shams el-Ghinnieh ("The Sun of Song"), from her eponymous album and topping the charts throughout the Arab World with her albums, Naghmet Hob, Ma Bassmahlak, Maghroumeh, and Rouh Rouhi. In 2000, Karam's tenth album Oyoun Qalbi became her highest selling album. In 2001 her album Nedmaneh sold millions of copies worldwide, earning Karam a Murex d'Or award for Best Arabic Artist and Rotana Records awards including, Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Highest-Selling Album of the Year. By the time her record Saharni was released in 2003, she had established herself as one of the most prominent Lebanese singers and as a Middle Eastern pop icon. Throughout the late 2000s, Karam's commercial success endured via her albums, Hayda Haki, Am Bemzah Ma'ak, and Khallini Shoufak. Karam frequently worked with the renowned musician and composer Melhem Barakat and has collaborated with the legendary singer, Wadih el Safi on their critically acclaimed 2004 duet titled, W Kberna ("We Grow Old Together"). In 2011, Karam collaborated with Sony Entertainment and Rotana to produce the Arab World's first 3D music video for her song, "MaFi Noum" from her record Hal Leile...MaFi Noum. Karam has since released well-received singles and music videos and has continued touring throughout the Arab World and internationally. Karam's 20th and most recent studio album to date, Menni Elak, was released in May 2017. Karam remains one of Rotana's most prominent artists.

Outline of Lebanon

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Lebanon:

Lebanon – sovereign country located along the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea in Southwest Asia and the Middle East. Lebanon, due to its tense sectarian diversity, has a unique political system, known as confessionalism, in which each religious group is allocated a fixed number of seats in parliament. The country enjoyed a period of relative calm and prosperity before the devastating Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990. In 2005, a wave of demonstrations known as the Cedar Revolution ended the 30-year Syrian occupation of Lebanon. By early 2006, a considerable degree of stability had been achieved throughout much of the country and Beirut's reconstruction was almost complete, but a debilitating 2006 war and internal strife caused significant economic damage and loss of life. Lebanon has shown remarkable resilience to the Late 2000s recession.

Pascale Machaalani

Pascale Bechara Bachaalani (Arabic: باسكال بشارة بشعلاني‎; born March 27, 1967) is a Lebanese singer. Her debut album Sahar Sahar rose her to stardom throughout the Middle East, making Mashalaani one of the most successful female artistes in 1990s Lebanon. She released her second and third albums, Nazrat Ayounak and Banadi with continued success. Her seventh studio album, Nour el Shams released in 2000 was a phenomenal success which exceeded sales of 250,000 She has released thirteen hit studio albums and twenty-seven singles.

Machaalani is currently one of the most active Lebanese singers and has performed in a number countries, beginning from her native Lebanon to Europe and USA. She is signed to Rotana, the biggest record company in the Middle East.


Čalgija or Chalgiya (Macedonian language: Чалгија; Bulgarian language: Чалгия) is a Macedonian and Bulgarian music genre, often referred to as Pop-folk, which also is a subgenre of the old urban traditional folk music (starogradska muzika) of Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria.Čalgija is performed by ensembles called Čalgii (Чалгии) with instruments such as a dajre (tambourine) and tarabuka (hourglass drum) providing percussion for ut (lute), kanun (zither), clarinet and violin.Čalgija or is an old part of the whole Macedonian and Bulgarian folklore art (this includes the rural folklore as well) and it should not be confused with Chalga (a contemporary Turbofolk music style in Bulgaria).

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