Saudi Arabian Musical Heritage: A Journey Through Sound with WithFeeling. At WithFeeling, we pride ourselves on our deep understanding of the cultural richness and authenticity of the regions we work with. Our collaborations with various Saudi governmental agencies, including the National Development Fund (NDF), Diriyah, AlUla, Royal Commission of Riyadh City, and the Ministry of Culture, have given us a unique insight into the vibrant musical heritage of Saudi Arabia. This blog post aims to take you on a journey through the diverse musical traditions of this fascinating country, showcasing the Saudi Arabian Musical Heritage.
Saudi Arabian music is a beautiful tapestry woven from the threads of its diverse cultural heritage. From the rhythmic beats of the Najd region to the melodious tunes of the Hejaz, each region has its unique musical style that reflects its history and way of life.
Najdi Music: The heart of Saudi Arabia, the Najd region, is known for its powerful and rhythmic music. The traditional dance form, Ardah, also known as the 'sword dance', is often accompanied by the compelling beats of Najdi music and spoken poetry, creating a captivating auditory experience.
Hejazi Music: The western region of Hejaz is home to the melodious 'Sambri' music. Characterised by the enchanting tunes of the 'Oud' or lute, Hejazi music often serves as a backdrop for reciting poetry, creating a harmonious blend of music and literature.
Khaleeji Music: The Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is known for its Khaleeji music. Influenced by African, Indian, and Persian music, Khaleeji music is known for its distinctive rhythms and is often associated with the sea, reflecting the coastal lifestyle of the region.
Bedouin Music: The nomadic Bedouins have their unique musical style that includes a variety of folk songs. These songs were traditionally used to tell stories, communicate messages across long distances, or accompany various tasks like camel-herding.
Asiri Music: Originating from the Asir province in the southwest, Asiri music is used in the traditional dance form called 'Al-Dahha', typically performed during celebrations.
In addition to these regional styles, Saudi Arabia also has a rich tradition of music that dates back centuries. For instance, the ancient Andalusian music style, which dates back to when the Arab world stretched all the way to Spain, is still practiced today by groups like Habib al Andalus. This music style, like Western classical music, often features a large orchestra of string instruments and is known for its intricate ornamentation and courtly elegance.
Another ancient form of music is the Iraqi Maqam, characterised by long, medley-like pieces grouped together based on the same musical scale. This music style also features a distinct rhythm, such as the ten-beat rhythmic cycle called Jar Juna.
Beyond these regional and historical styles, Saudi Arabia is home to a variety of traditional instruments that have been played for over 5,000 years. These include the Rabab, Oud, Qanoon, Ney, Riq, and the Goblet drum. Each of these instruments contributes to the unique sound of Saudi music, producing beautiful, deep, and earthy sounds that are organic,warm, and captivating. They are a testament to the enduring power of music and its calming effects on both the players and the listeners.
Rabab: One of the earliest string instruments, the rabab is the precursor to Western instruments like the violin. It has a distinctive twang sound and comes in three versions, the most popular of which is the "spike fiddle".
Oud: This pear-shaped string instrument is prominent in Arabic music. It has six strings and is similar to the mandolin in terms of pitch and sound. The Arabian version of the oud is the largest and has a richer, deeper sound.
Qanoon: This trapezoid-shaped string instrument is played resting on the musician’s lap with two picks. It has 26 sets of triple strings and can produce sharps, flats and microtones.
Ney: The ney is an end-blown wood instrument similar to a flute or recorder. It's made out of hollow cane and has seven holes to play, allowing for a three-octave range.
Riq: The riq is a small hand-held frame drum with cymbals similar to a tambourine. It can be made with wood or aluminium and has a distinctive rattling sound.
Goblet drum: This percussion instrument is the foundation of Arabic music. It can emit deep bass sound as well as higher-pitched, lighter sounds, depending on where the player strikes the head.
At WithFeeling, we are proud to be part of this musical journey, creating sounds that resonate with the rich cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia. Our collaborations have given us a unique insight into the vibrant musical traditions of this fascinating country, and we strive to incorporate these authentic sounds into our work. Our aim is to attract international tourists and promote internal tourism through the universal language of music, showcasing the cultural richness and welcoming spirit of Saudi Arabia.
Whether it's the rhythmic beats of the Goblet drum that form the foundation of Arabic music, the distinctive twang of the Rabab, or the enchanting tunes of the Oud, each instrument and musical style tells a story of Saudi Arabia's diverse regions and rich history. We invite you to join us on this journey and experience the mesmerising sounds of Saudi Arabia's musical heritage.
If you would like more information on our projects and collaborations, you can visit our Projects Page. To learn more about the rich Saudi Arabian Musical Heritage, check out our Cultural Heritage Page.