Music and Songs for Arabic Weddings
Arabic weddings are often accompanied by very traditional or religious style music, often with dancing as well, such as the dabkah, a typical Arab folk dance that is practiced in many countries, with only slight variations. In the dabkah, the men generally drape their arms over one another’s shoulders and dance in a pattern.
Wedding songs and dances are often accompanied by the women’s “Zaghareet” or ululations, the cries of joy that Arab women make during weddings and other happy occasions. A Zaghroutah (the singular of Zaghareet) is a sharp and crisp sound, which expresses loudly a happy wish for an individual or groups. Each Arab country and indeed each region has its own style of zaghroutah.
A Traditional Palestinian Wedding Song
One type of traditional wedding song is al-zaffeh, in which the friends and family of the bride and groom clap and chant various phrases which praise the character of the bride and groom. The singers speak directly to the groom and bride. They tell the groom how lucky he is to be wedding this particular bride, and they tell the bride how happy she will be with this groom. At some point, those participating in al-zaffeh sing in two groups where one group sings a phrase and the other answers by repeating the phrase or starts a new phrase.
In one Palestinian zaffah, the singers chant the following phrases:
- First stanza:
“Areesna zein el-shabab, zein el-shabab areesna.”
Our bridegroom is the best of youth, the best of youth is our bridegroom.
- Second stanza:
“Areesna ‘Antar ‘Abs, ‘Antar ‘Abs Areesna.”
Our bridegroom is ‘Antar ‘Abs, ‘Antar ‘Abs is our bridegroom.
(‘Antar ‘Abs is the tribal hero of Arab folklore love story, who falls madly in love with his maiden Leila and saves her from the brink of disaster when she is kidnapped from her desert tent palace by a raiding enemy party).
- Third stanza (translation only):
The sun which is in the sky, know that we have a bridegroom on our earth today.
- Fourth stanza (translation only):
Our bridegroom is the sun of the dawn, he asked the bride’s hand and wasn’t shy.
Popular Arabic Wedding Songs
Some popular contemporary Arabic wedding songs are:
- “Amarain (Two Moons)” by Hasan el-Asmar.
- “Bader” by Rashid Al Majed – This song starts out with a lot of celebratory ululating, then calls for peace and blessings on the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), then follows with a cheerfully dramatic religious harmony. While the content is admirable, I find the song to be a little too overwrought, and at almost twelve minutes in length, a bit wearying.
- “Hab il sa3ad” by Fatooma – Fatooma is a popular Kuwaiti singer.
- “Alzaffah” by Rashid Al Majed.
- “Mabrook” by Yousef.
- “Etmakhtari Ya Helwa Ya Zena (Walk With A Graceful Swinging Gait, O Beautiful, O Pretty One)”. This song is a zaffeh, which is a song used for a wedding procession.
- I also found a clip on Salmiya.net. It’s an Arabic wedding song sung to the tune of a traditional English-language wedding march. I don’t really care for this kind of thing, but I know for some it might be just what you’re looking for. You can listen to it by clicking here.
- On Anasheed.com I found this page of Arabic wedding nasheeds, which are Islamic-style songs, sung without musical accompaniment (except sometimes a drum). These come from all over the Arab world. See them here.
- Someone on the Maroko forums posted this list of forty Arabic wedding songs, unfortunately without links, but you may be able to find them by searching the individual artists:01- Cliff Richards – Congratulations
02 Mohamad Hejazy – Zefou El3arous Zefouha
03 Rami Ayash – Mabrouk
04 Nohad Tarabay – Zaffet El 3arouss
05 Zaffeh – Wedding Music
06 Jalal El Hamdaoui – Mabrouk 3aleik Ya 3ariss
07 Shafik Kabah – Jina w Jina
08 Samir Hanna – El Layil Ya Weily
09 Fares Karam – El 3eres
10 Assi El Hellany – Far7etna El Kbire
11 Rabih El Khawly – Nwena 3al Jazy
12 Samir Hanna – Ya Emmy Khalast Drousi
13 Shik Shak Shok – Belly Dancing
14 Maya Yazbeck – Habibe Ya 3einy
15 Darbouka Remix 2omi Ta Nor2os
16 Fares Karam – Megamix
17 Mohamad Hejazy – 7obak Ya Wala
18 Tony Kiwan – Lebanese Dabkeh Mixed
19 Tony Kiwan – Badik Badik Ma Badik
20 Hasna – Bein El 3aser
21 Nancy Ajram – Ah w Noss
22 Fares Karam – El Tanoura
23 Nourhan – Habibi Ya 3einy
24 Wael Kfoury – Ma W3adtik Be Njoum El Leil
25 Fares Karam – Ma Be23od Balaky
26 Sami Clarck – 2omi Ta Nor2os
27 Toni Kiwan – Habibi Ya Mama
28 Zein El Omr – 3ayel Many 3ayel
29 Fares Karam – Mahdoumeh
30 Fadi – Zeina Remix
31 Samir Hanna – Haysa w Dabke
32 Zafet El Iskandarany
33 Dabkat Beqa3iya – Laq3adlak
34 Assi El Hellany – El Hawara
35 Assi El Hellany – Haddeli
36 Assi El Hellany – Hawara_3
37 Fahed Akiki – Meli Be Khasrek
38 Dabkeh – Wa3adtina
39 Dabkeh – Zeyanol Sa7a
40 Dabkeh – Zaffet El 3ariss
Arabic Wedding Music Online
Smithsonian Global Sound (http://www.smithsonianglobalsound.org) offers a CD titled “Arab Wedding Music”, by unknown artists. It’s very traditional, catchy stuff, sounding like Bedouin music with its simple beats and melodies. They have another album, titled “Arabic and Druse Music,” that features a wedding song as well. Once again, it’s very traditional, with an active, reedy-sounding flute accompanied by men clapping and singing.
Amazon.com carries an album called, “Zaghareed: Music From The Palestinian Holy Land.” This is the only album composed purely of traditional Arab wedding music that I have found available online. The Amazon editorial review says about this album,
“Zaghareed is a concept album based on the music played during a traditional wedding ceremony. It subtly challenges the traditions of arranged marriages and of the woman’s place in society, within a context of beautifully played Arabic music. Instrumental pieces feature qanun, oud, buzuq, flutes, and reed instruments, and various percussion. The vocal songs join the voices of women and men, at times singing in contrast to one another, at others raising their voices in unity, celebration, and perseverance.”
One blogger describes this album as, “Probably the best reproduction of traditional mediterranean arab wedding music to be released commercially. Yep, the palestinians have taken the cake/hareeseh. Gorgeous vocal and musical arrangements. I’ve read too many accounts that say Arabic music contains no harmony. Oh my children, how wrong you are.”
After reading the glowing reviews of this compilation of traditional Arabic wedding music, I ordered the CD. I’ll write my own review after I’ve listened to it.