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swahili coast: music



Swahili music is a mix of Arabic, Indian and African influences. Known as tarabu, this music has its base on the island of Zanzibar, once the capital of the Swahili sultanate. It uses Middle Eastern, Indian and African drums plus a wide range of stringed instruments to produce a rhythm that is both syncopated and soothing. Originally played at weddings or community entertainments, tarabu uses a distinctly Arab vocal range that calls to mind the Swahili Coast's hot sun and spicy food.

Swahili oud, an Arab-influenced lute
  Swahili oud, an Arab-influenced lute

Hijazi Bashraf (Swahili)
This typical Swahili melody has strong Indian influences. It is played with an oud, or Arab guitar, three violins, a mandolin, a kayambaflat grass rattle, an earthenware drum, a tambourine and a damba, an Arab-style drum made from clay and a goatskin membrane.
Listen to the song. Music credit: ILAM, Rhodes University

Mahaba, Jamani, Yananiatile (Swahili)
This song's title means: "With love, I languish." The song is played with three violas, a cello, a mandolin, a dambak drum, a kayamba rattle and two udi the Swahili pronunciation of oudh, which is an Arab lute.
Listen to the song. Music credit: ILAM, Rhodes University

Pemba Ina Siri (Swahili)
This song's title means, "In Pemba, they can keep a secret." Pemba is an island near the island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean off east Africa. Like Zanzibar, Pemba has strong Arab and Indian influences . The song is a love song played with two udi lutes, a cello, a mandolin, a dambak drum, a kayamba rattle and three violas.
Listen to the song. Music credit: ILAM, Rhodes University



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