How Folk Music in Egypt is Keeping Tradition Alive

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you want to get a taste of traditional Egyptian music, you have to check out the folk music scene. While it may not be as popular as other genres, it is still very much alive and well. Here’s a look at how folk music in Egypt is keeping tradition alive.


Since the early 20th century, Egyptian folk music has undergone a tremendous transformation. With the rise of Cairo as a musical epicenter in the Arab world, Egyptian musicians began to experiment with Western instruments and styles, resulting in a unique form of fusion music. Today, Egyptian folk music is a vital part of the country’s cultural heritage, and is kept alive by a new generation of traditional musicians.

While most people associate folk music with rural communities, in Egypt the term encompasses a wide range of musical genres that reflect the country’s diverse regions and cultures. From the heart-pounding rhythms of Sha’abi to the soothing sounds of Didi, there is an Egyptian folk song for every mood and occasion.

Despite its popularity, Egyptian folk music has often been overlooked by historians and music scholars. This is starting to change, however, as more research is being done on this rich and varied musical tradition. In recent years, several books and articles have been published on the subject, and there are now several websites devoted to promoting Egyptian folk music.

As Egypt enters a new era of political and social change, its folk music will no doubt continue to evolve. But one thing is certain: the songs of Egypt’s past will always be cherished by its people.

The history of folk music in Egypt

Folk music in Egypt has a rich history dating back to the Pharaohs. The music was used to celebrate special occasions and religious festivals. It was also used to tell stories and convey messages. Today, folk music is still an important part of Egyptian culture.

The origins of folk music in Egypt

Folk music in Egypt has its origins in the ancient Egyptian culture. The earliest folk music were songs and dances that were performed by peasants at festivals and celebrations. As Egypt became a more developed country, folk music began to be influenced by other cultures, including the Persians, Greeks, and Arabs. This can be seen in the instruments that are used in folk music, as well as the styles of singing and dancing.

One of the most popular types of folk music in Egypt is called mahraganat. This style of music is characterized by its use of electronic instruments and synthesizers, as well as its fast-paced rhythms. Mahraganat is often compared to rap music, and it often has political or social commentary lyrics.

Another popular type of folk music in Egypt is called baladi. Baladi is a slower, more traditional style of folk music that uses acoustic instruments like the oud and nay (a type of flute). Baladi songs often tell stories about the everyday lives of Egyptians, and they are often accompanied by traditional dances.

Folk music plays an important role in keeping Egyptian culture alive. It is often performed at weddings and other celebrations, and it is also used as a way to teach young people about their heritage. Folk music is a unique way to experience Egyptian culture, and it is something that you should definitely try if you ever have the chance!

The influence of folk music in Egypt

The influence of folk music in Egypt has long been strong, with many of the country’s most famous performers, including Sayed Darwish and Abdel Halim Hafez, starting their careers in this genre. However, it was in the late 1970s that a new wave of folk musicians began to emerge, led by the likes of Ali Hassan Kuban and Hamza El Din.

Over the past few decades, folk music in Egypt has continued to evolve, with a number of different subgenres emerging. One of the most popular is Sha’abi, which originated in working-class neighborhoods in Cairo and Alexandria and is characterized by its use of simple lyrics and catchy melodies.

Other popular subgenres include Mahraganat, which is a more modern style of folk music that often incorporates electronic instruments, and Nubian folk music, which has been influenced by Sudanese and Ethiopian sounds.

No matter what style they’re playing, though, one things remains clear: folk musicians in Egypt are keeping tradition alive.

The current state of folk music in Egypt

Folk music in Egypt is currently in a state of flux. Due to the influx of foreign influences, many traditional songs and instruments have been lost. However, there are still pockets of traditional music that can be found in the rural villages. These musicians are keeping the tradition alive by performing at weddings and other celebrations.

The popularity of folk music in Egypt

Folk music has always been popular in Egypt, but in recent years there has been a resurgence in its popularity. This is due in part to the work of a new generation of Egyptian musicians who are keeping the tradition alive.

One of the most popular folk music groups in Egypt is El Tanbura. The group was formed in the 1970s and has been credited with helping to revive interest in folk music. They use traditional instruments such as the rabab (a stringed instrument) and the mizmar (a type of flute).

El Tanbura have toured internationally and have released several albums. Their music has been featured in films and television programmes, and they have even performed for the Egyptian president!

Another popular folk music group is the Cairo bids, who specialise in religious songs. Their music is based on Sufi traditions and they often sing at religious festivals.

The Cairo bids have also released several albums and have toured internationally. They have been praised for their beautiful vocal harmonies and their passion for keeping Sufi traditions alive.

There are many other folk music groups in Egypt, including those who specialise in different genres such as Shaabi (popular) music or Nubian music. These groups are helping to keep traditional Egyptian music alive and ensuring that it can be enjoyed by future generations.

The decline of folk music in Egypt

Folk music in Egypt is facing a decline due to a number of factors. One is the increasing popularity of pop music, which is often seen as being more modern and appealings to younger audiences. Additionally, folk music is often associated with older generations and can be seen as out of touch by some. The rise of digital media has also played a role, as folk music is not often found on streaming platforms or in online music stores. This lack of visibility makes it harder for folk music to reach new audiences.

Despite these challenges, there are still many people who appreciate and value folk music in Egypt. There are a number of festivals and events dedicated to promoting this type of music, and there is a growing number of young people who are interested in learning about and playing traditional instruments. While the future of folk music in Egypt may be uncertain, there is still a strong community of fans and practitioners who are keeping the tradition alive.

The future of folk music in Egypt

Folk music in Egypt has a long and storied history, dating back to the pharaonic era. Today, it remains an important part of the country’s cultural identity. In a rapidly globalizing world, folk music is one of the few remaining ties to Egypt’s past. As such, it is an important part of the country’s heritage.

The importance of keeping folk music alive in Egypt

Folk music is an important part of Egyptian heritage and culture. For centuries, folk music has been passed down from generation to generation, providing a connection to the country’s past. In recent years, however, there has been a decline in the popularity of folk music, as many young people have turned to other genres.

This is a worrying trend, as it could lead to the loss of this important part of Egyptian identity. There are a number of reasons why folk music is important and why it should be protected.

Folk music is a key part of Egyptian identity and culture. It is closely connected to the country’s history and helps to keep traditions alive. Folk music is also an important form of expression for Egypt’s rural populations, who often feel marginalized by the urban, Arab-dominated culture.

Folk music is under threat from a number of factors, including the rise of other genres such as pop and rap, and the increasing use of digital technologies which make it easier for people to access international music without having to listen to local singers. However, there are also a number of initiatives which are working to keep folk music alive in Egypt.

One example is the work of the ‘Egyptian Musical Heritage Revival Initiative’, which was set up in 2009 with the aim of collecting and preserving traditional songs from across Egypt. The initiative has so far collected over 2,000 songs, and has worked with musicians to create new arrangements which will appeal to younger audiences.

The initiative has also worked with schoolchildren, teaching them about traditional instruments and singing techniques. This is an important way of ensuring that folk music remains relevant in today’s society and does not become consigned to history.

There are many other initiatives like this which are working to keep folk music alive in Egypt. It is important that these efforts continue, so that this important part of Egyptian culture can be enjoyed by future generations.

The challenges of keeping folk music alive in Egypt

Folk music has been an important part of Egyptian culture for centuries, but in recent years it has been increasingly threatened by modernity and globalization. While there are still many people who enjoy listening to and playing folk music, the number of traditional folk musicians is dwindling. This is due in part to the fact that young people are often not exposed to folk music, and so they are not interested in learning how to play it. Additionally, the cost of traditional instruments has become prohibitive for many families. As a result, there is a danger that folk music will disappear entirely in Egypt.

There are several initiatives underway to try to keep folk music alive in Egypt. One such effort is the “Egyptian Folk Orchestra”, which was founded in 2006. The orchestra consists of young musicians who have been trained in traditional folk music. They perform at various venues around Egypt, and their goal is to share the beauty of folk music with as many people as possible. Another organization working to preserve folk music in Egypt is the “Folk Arts Society”, which was founded in 2008. The society offers classes on traditional instruments and hosts concerts and festivals featuring folk musicians from all over Egypt.

Despite these efforts, folk music in Egypt faces significant challenges. It is important that more people become aware of the importance of preserving this important part of Egyptian culture.

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