Syria is an exceptional cultural landscape of diverse musical traditions. Shaped by a history thousands of years old it was influenced by numerous cultures who have passed through the region or called it their home.
In order to understand music in Syria, we invite you to explore its landscape through the lens of its people – people who have dedicated their work practising music or to research the musical landscape of Syria. For this thematic journey, we have collaborated with researchers and Syrian musicians who have shared with us their knowledge and experience with the vast landscape of music traditions in Syria.
Although the various texts divide music into various groups or regions, the articles in this campaign as well as the various musical genres can not be seen as separate entities. They attempt to rather provide various entry points and perspectives from which the diversity and complexity of Syrian music can be explored or understood. Aspects of musical heritage are not limited to a single manifestation and may include elements from multiple sources that transcend national or cultural boundaries. Such as everyone experiences music differently, creations of music are never frozen in time, but interact and develop with their creators. Therefore, musical forms in Syria meet at various pivotal points and are deeply interwoven with each other and the whole region.
Prof. Hassan Abbas
First and foremost, the article series by Prof. Hassan Abbas presents an introduction into traditional music in Syria by using various cultural groups as entry points for exploring music in Syria. Abbas was a leading scholar and expert on Syrian culture, and Syrian traditional music in particular. In his series of articles, he explains how music has been shaped by various groups, their languages and religious beliefs, based on the knowledge that derived out of his book. His first text features an exclusive interview with Prof. Richard Dumbrill, archaeomusicologist and Founder of the International Council of Near Eastern Archaeomusicology, who translated the oldest song written, which was found at the site of Ugarit, in the northeast of Syria.
Obeid Alyousef is a musician and former lecturer at the University of Homs. In his interview „The sound of Dayr az-Zawr“, Alyousef tells his personal story of how he became a musician and why he is documenting the unique musical heritage of his hometown Dayr az-Zawr. The text gives insights into the geographical differences in music inside Syria and how neighbouring countries have shaped various music styles.
Syria has always been a hub in which cultures meet. It is no wonder, that the country has a very vibrant contemporary music scenery as well, which has both pioneered and adopted a variety of music forms and mixed it with their own arrangments.
Hannibal Saad, a musician and founder of several music initiatives such as the Jazz Lives in Syria Festival and the Global Week for Syria, will present a series of articles on contemporary music in Syria. Saad takes us on a journey through different music forms such as jazz and rock music, revealing the history of rather unnoticed music strands in Syria and how modern music industries have developed with strong ties to international audiences, taking the example of the development of a very unique Syrian Jazz.
Feature Image: © Hannibal Saad