Thursday, March 20, 2014

Genre research project 31/1359: Dabke

Omar Souleyman - "Ala Il Hanash Madgouga (The Bedouin Tattoo)" (Jazeera Nights: Folk & Pop Sounds of Syria)

Dabke (Arabic: دبكة‎); "debka" is an Arab folk dance native to the Levant. It is popular in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Syria. A line dance, it is widely performed at weddings and joyous occasions. The line forms from right to left. The leader of the dabke heads the line, alternating between facing the audience and the other dancers.

According to one folk tradition, the dance originated in the Levant where houses were built from stone with a roof made of wood, straw and dirt. The dirt roof had to be compacted which required stomping the dirt hard in a uniform way to compact it evenly. This event of cooperation is called ta'awon and from here comes the word awneh, meaning "help." This developed into the song Ala Dalouna (Arabic: على دلعونا‎), roughly translated, "Let's go and help". The dabke and the rhythmic songs go together in an attempt to keep the work fun and useful.

Recent developments have included increased use of electronic instruments, like synthesizers and drum machines.

[Editors note: When I was in the band Moon Pearl, we got to open for Omar Souleyman at his sold out show at the Echo, which was amazing. Now he's working with Björk. So I'm one degree away from Björk.]

[Editors note 2: Omar Souleyman holds the top three highest-rated albums in the "dabke" genre catagory on] 


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