Arab music is a general term for music that originates in the Arab world. The Arab world includes 22 countries stretching from North Africa to western Asia. With so many cultural influences, dialects, and styles found throughout, there is much variation by country.

Different types of Arab music

A traditional orchestra in Arab music, is called al tact and features three main instruments: oud, qanoun, and ney. The oud is a short-neck string instrument, similar to the lute. The oud provides the melody to traditional Arab songs. It has either 11 or 13 strings and is played throughout the Arab world as well as in Greece, Armenia, and Turkey. The qanoun is a stringed instrument similar to the zither and may be a descendent of the ancient Egytian harp. It has 26 sets of three strings for a total of 78. The ney is an end-blown flute. It is the only woodwind instrument used in most traditional Arab music. It is one of the oldest musical instruments still in use. The violin, called the kamanija, is a common addition to al tact.

Cairo, Egypt is considered by many to be the creative center for both music as well as the Arabic film industry. Many modern musical trends originate here. Beirut, Lebanon has also become an important contributor. Vocalists, like Egypt’s Umm Kulthum and Lebanon’s Nouhad Haddad, known as Fayrouz, were hugely popular Arab music singers in during the 20th century. Their music is still widely listened to in Arab countries.

Modern Arab music has seen influences from other parts of the world including hip hop and reggae, the roots of which can be traced back to the African continent. Arabic royalty free background music is also found in many popular films that use music licensing to acquire the rights to use songs in soundtracks.

What makes Arab music different

What makes Arab music unique, and what sets it apart from many popular forms of Western music, is the Arab tone system. This musical tuning system divides the octave into twenty-four tones with one quarter-tone distance between successive notes. The European tuning system is divided into twelve equal divisions.

Influence of Arab music

One of the biggest contributions to the musical world is the guitar which was derived from an Arabic instrument called the qitara. The bass drum and the lute also have a long history in the region.

The influence of Arab musicians, can be heard everywhere. The Western-style of surf music, for example, was pioneered by Lebanese-American guitar player Dick Dale, whose birth name was Richard Monsour. Dale was influenced by the Arabic music he learned from his uncle, which he used to develop his unique electric guitar style in the 1960s.

Learn More About Music Licensing

Musicians specializing in writing Arab royalty free music use music licensing to make their songs available for videos and films. Directors and videographers search through these music libraries containing thousands of songs in order to find the right fit for their creative projects.

Browse our library to find the perfect Arabic background music for your project.