All the world's eyes are on Syria right now, as the reports of violence and conflict get more harrowing day by day and the United States and other countries decide how to respond (if at all). It's a tragic, frightening situation in a country that's seen far more than its fair share of conflict and violence -- so much so that strife often overshadows the long, rich cultural history of the area. Syria (and especially capital city Damascus and the large city Aleppo) have long been artistic centers of the Middle East, home to centuries-old traditions of art, poetry and music. Joyous folk styles like the dabke (a line dance traditionally performed at weddings) and the classical musical-poetic tradition of Muwashshah both have roots here, as do many major pan-Middle Eastern stars, including George Wassouf, Nour Mehanna and Sabah Fakhri. (The importance of musical traditions in Syria extends to its current war-torn state, with all sides harnessing songs to illicit support, and reports of government crackdowns on and execution of protest singers coming in.) As our hearts are with the Syrian people and the world's eyes watch to see how the situation will progress, let's take time to get to know just a bit of the vast, beautiful musical cultures this troubled nation has fostered.
Music of Syria
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