When I was in school, I remember my language teacher would randomly break out into Arabic songs. She was my favourite teacher because she was just incredibly random. She was teaching us Arabic but because she was also a singer from the Arabian Peninsula. She often shared a lot with us about Arabic music, the Arab world and her traditions.
She would come to class with drums and encourage us to attempt to Bellydance, while she sang folk songs from Morocco, Egypt, Syria and Jordan. She would also play music from different parts of the Middle East on the stereo while we studied, and read us classical Arabian poetry that she had taken from Arabic songs.
My Arabic language teacher was a genius. She had found a way to hack our brains and place within it, all of the information that she wanted us to remember. Each lesson was a fusion of learning, Arabic speaking, and culture, with crosses between attending an amazing concert, with all types of music being played from all Arab countries.
Traditional instruments create the unique sounds in Arab songs. Source: Unsplash
Music within the Arab world has roots, which go back thousands of years. For centuries it has been evolving from rhythmic poetry to a variety of Instruments. String instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments.
Although there are many styles of music, the traditional ensemble in Arab Music is made up of five musical instruments. Four of these instruments traditionally create the melody and the fifth creates the percussion. Arabian instruments create the foundation in traditional Arabian composed music, creating those unique Arabian melodies and musical styles.
All around Arabia, musicians and bands are sharing new Arabic songs online, offline and in concerts. The Arab world is made up of 22 countries, which include the regions of the Middle East and North Africa. So there is no shortage of new and artistic music styles, genres and inspiration to choose from.[table “100049” not found /]
If you want to fast track your Arabic Language learning through music. You will need to engage fully with the music. Listen to the instruments, listen to the words, Dance and enjoy it. Try to listen to a variety of music styles and try to remain motivated in your new fun way to study the language.
Music is portable and you can listen to Arab song where ever you go. Source: Unsplash
If you don’t have much time to study, remember that your MP3 player, be it on your phone or iPod is portable so you can listen to music and songs where ever you are. While working, while driving, while sleeping, while reading a book, and even while cleaning the house.
Music is the most portable study technique. Source: Unsplash
In the past, some Arabic music was used to communicate messages, to some extent it still is. Music for religion to call people to pray, music for inspiration to lift peoples spirits and stir their emotions. Now Arabic music is being used to teach a new generation of language learners how to speak this beautiful language.
You could listen to 1 song for each day of the week and take weekends off to allow your new vocabulary to settle into your mind. Listen to the vocal, learn the words, feel the rhythm, and remember you don’t have to be perfect. Improvisation in your learning and enjoying every minute of it is just as important as getting it right. Here are some suggested songs to build your own playlist of great songs. That can accelerate your enjoyment of learning the Arabic language.[table “100050” not found /]
Fairuz is a Lebanese singer who started her singing career at a very young. So if you like her music you will find lots of her music online. Fairuz has worked with lots of composers and tends to sing with slow vocals. Her beautiful voice became well known very quickly and she is known for singing for the independence and unity of Lebanon.
Her song Quds al Atika which means old Jerusalem is an old classic, released in 1971. This song is found on her Jerusalem in My Heart, Album.
Kazem El-Saher is an Iraqi musician and composer. Kazem sings songs that range from the romantic to political to pop music. Kazem sings in Modern Standard Arabic, so his music is some of the best to learn the language with. His song Hareb which means running away is about the war in Iraq over the last 20 years which ruined the relationship he had with his lost love. His passion for music started when he was a child listening to the radio.
Nancy Ajram is a Lebanese singer, she started her singing career at the young age of 15. She is a very famous singer in the middle east and specialises in pop songs and children’s songs. Nancy is often described and one of the most influential singers in the Middle East right now.
Her song El Donia Helwa which means the world is sweet is about moving away from the past, coming to love ourselves and facing the world with love. This song is very famous as it was played on a coca cola commercial.
Rim Banna is a Palestinian singer, composer and activist. She is well known for her dedication to freedom and her modern take on traditional Palestinian poems.
Her song Faris Odeh is named after a Lebanese boy who was killed by Israeli soldiers. It is a song about loss, grief and looking for the strength to carry on.
Ragheb Alam is a famous singer and composer from Lebanon. He rose to fame after winning a talent show in the 1980s. He is now also a well know tv personality working on Arab Idol as a judge. His song Nessini El Donya means to make me forget the world. It is a love story about when you met the love of your life and how you can hold onto such a perfect love.
The Arabic language like many other languages in the world has many different dialects. Although the Arabic culture connects all Arabs in the world today. Cross-cultural differences do exist. This can become apparent across borders and within the borders of countries. For example, the North African Arabian dialect may be surprisingly different to that spoken on the Arabian Peninsula.
When you are listening to your chosen Arabic song, it can be important to note that each song may pronounce words a little bit differently.
Artists tend to make music that is a reflection of what is going on in the environment that they are in. Traditional music adopts topics based on the history of that particular country, for example, Arab countries that have seen recent wars like Iraq, Lebanon and Syria may have themes about loss, freedom and the experiences of war compared to Moroccan music which may have another genre of music.
Listening to songs from different locations allows you to tune in to what is important to that country at the present time. Learning songs from different countries and genres gives you a fast incorporation into centuries of history and culture.
Music in Arabia has changed through the centuries. While traditional and religious music, are still popular they are not the only kind of music to come out of the Arab music scene. Pop music, electronic music, Jazz music, Dance Music, RnB and Rappers are all performers and music styles, which are now contributing to the Arabic music tapestry. Performers are experimenting with new beats, rhythms and tones. Often this fusion between the traditional Middle Eastern music and modern western music styles create some of the best music and song.
When selecting your songs try to select songs across different genres. This will ensure that when you are in the mood to dance you have a great song to hand and when you want something slow and relaxing you also have access to that. Streaming music from any of the large digital music services means that you can easily create playlists to suit your mood.
The ‘best’ Arabic music is a personal choice, but I hope that you now have enough tools to make a selection of some amazing tunes for your new playlist. One thing that is not subjective is that using Arabic music to help you to learn the language is a smart choice. This music has a rich and long history and no matter what kind of music you like, you are sure to find the perfect genre or hand full of songs to add to your playlist and jump start your Arabic learning.