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Palestinians Folk Music

Contributed by Turathuna Bethlehem University on 16.09.2006:

Although such times as when a male villager would be inspired to sing after casting an admiring look at his girl when she came to fill her jar at the village spring are long gone, it is still possible to get a taste of the folk traditions of the people of Palestine. Palestinians never miss playing the tabla and dancing the dabke (a line dance with energetic leaps and spins) during festivals and family celebrations. But to witness traditional Palestinian folk songs and dances at their most rudimentary and ancient, a visitor would need to get away from the big cities and take a trip to the villages and refugee camps, where men and women of the entire village or camp would gather on festive occasions to sing and dance together.

The most popular folk songs in Palestine are the Meejana and ‘Ataba, where a singer starts with “Ooaaf, ooaaf, ooaaf…” followed by four verses of sung poetry, often spontaneously composed depicting a singer’s skills at word-play. The Dal’oona and Ya Zareef et-Tul are the songs most favored for dabke dancing and usually accompanied by traditional instruments such as the shabbabeh (a small nay), the yarghoul (a single-piped, wooden clarinet that gives a sound similar to that of bagpipes), the mijwez (a double yargoul), the rababa (a long necked, single-stringed, instrument with a rectangular bottom covered in hide and played with a bow made of hair from a horse’s tail), and the tabl (a shoulder-held, wooden drum covered with hide on both sides and played with two sticks). Also, from the Palestinian’s favourite songs are Weyn A Ramallah, Arrozana, Marmar Zamaani.

Source: Palestine A Guide by Mariam Shahin.

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