Thursday, August 2, 2012


The music of Bahrain is similar to the music of its neighbors in the Gulf States. Some of the main instruments used are the oud and the tabl drum.

There are two main types of music you'll find in Bahrain: khaliji and sawt music. Khaliji is a genre that actually spans across the gulf states, including Bahrain of course. It borrows some of the polyrhythms found in African music. The two instruments mentioned above, the oud and the tabl are the key instruments used in khaliji. One of the most famous khaliji performers is Ali Bahar, who is also part of the band Al Ekhwa. Another famous musician is Khalid al Shaikh. (Not to be confused with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the terrorist. Two completely different people!)

The oud is a short-necked fretless lute-like instrument that is no doubt an ancestor of the guitar. The body of the oud is much larger and rounder than that of a guitar, giving it a somewhat louder, more resonating sound.

The tabl drum is also called by its Turkish name, the davul drum. It's a large double-head drum that is played with sticks. Because of its size, it's strapped to the body to make it easier to carry and play. Different sticks are used to create different sounds as with striking with different areas on the drum head.

Sawt music is a style that is associated in the urban settings. This genre is also popular throughout the Gulf states, and is characterized by the use of the oud, the mirwas (a smaller double-headed hand drum), and the violin.

In modern music, Bahrain has a large following towards hard rock, heavy metal, and death metal. One of the more famous bands to come out of this genre is a band called Motör Militia. One famous band from the 1980s is called Osiris, which incorporates a lot of traditional music into more of a progressive rock genre.

There is a dance the accompanies sawt music called zaffan. One dance is a dance called the ardha is a male-only sword dance. The male-only pearl divers have their own dance called the fidjeri. It involves a lot of singing and clapping and dancing with clay urns. (I hope they're empty.) And of course, like many other countries in the general area of the world, belly dancing is also popular for women dancers.

[Again, I apologize for lack of video. Once I get my computer back from being repaired, I'll update these posts.]

Up next: the food

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