Traditional Lebanese Instrumental Music

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Traditional Lebanese Instrumental Music is a type of music that is typically played on the traditional string instrument, the oud.


Traditional Lebanese instrumental music is characterized by a great deal of variety. The traditional music of Lebanon has been influenced by many different cultures, including Arabic, Turkish, and Western European. There are also significant influences from the music of Egypt and Syria. As a result, traditional Lebanese instrumental music includes a wide range of musical styles and genres.

The most common type of traditional Lebanese instrumental music is the mawwal. Mawwals are pieces of music that are based on the sung poetry of the Sufis. They are typically slow-paced and contemplative, and often make use of drones and repetitious melodies. Another common type of traditional Lebanese instrumental music is the muwashahat. Muwashahat are pieces of music that were originally sung by female slaves in the court of the Fatimid Caliphate. They are usually faster-paced than mawwals, and often make use of complex rhythms.

Other types of traditional Lebanese instrumental music include the taqsim, which is an improvised solo piece; the nuba, which is a piece of vocal music that is based on ancient Arabic poetry; and the durra, which is a type of percussion-based folk dance music.

The Oud

The oud is a traditional string instrument used in Lebanese music. It has a pear-shaped body with a long neck and 11 to 13 gut strings. The oud is usually played with a plectrum, and it has a distinctive, mellow sound.

The Qanun

The Qanun is a traditional Lebanese string instrument. It is a type of zither, and is played with small hammers. The Qanun is a popular instrument in Lebanon, and is often used in instrumental music.

The Nay

The Nay is a traditional Arabic flute. It is Made of reeds, and is about two feet long. It has six holes, which the performer covers with their fingers to create different pitches. The Nay has a very mellow and calming sound, and is often used in traditional Arabic music to create an atmosphere of tranquility.

The Violin

The violin is the most important instrument in traditional Lebanese music. It is used in all kind of music, from the simple rural melodies to the most sophisticated urban songs. In Lebanon, the violin is usually played with a bow, and it is held under the chin. It has four strings, which are tuned in perfect fifths. The lowest string is usually tuned to an E, the second string to a B, the third string to a G, and the fourth string to a D.

The Buzuq

The Buzuq is a traditional Lebanese string instrument. It has a long neck and a resonant body, and is traditionally played with a pick. The Buzuq originated in the mountains of Lebanon, and its distinctive sound has come to be associated with the country’s folk music.

The Buzuq is often used as an accompaniment to dance, and it is also popular in Arabic pop music. In recent years, the Buzuq has been gaining popularity among Western audiences, as its unique sound lends itself well to a variety of genres.


While we have only scratched the surface of traditional Lebanese instrumental music, we hope this has been a helpful introduction. This music has a rich history and is still an important part of Lebanese culture today. If you have the opportunity to hear it played live, we highly recommend it!

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