The key traditional style of Syrian music is urban, classical and highly sophisticated. Folk Arabic music is a normal part of life in Syria. Arabic folk songs are an integral part of community centered cultures with people playing and singing together rather than watching others perform.
What carved the Syrian music is the Muwashshahat, they are broadcasted on radio and television in Syria. In fact, the Arabic songs form a staple of broadcast time, heard as ‘sound bites’ between programs or in full performance in the late morning and late afternoon. The repertoire of muwashshahat has even been embraced and showcased by the government as a symbol or emblem of national and cultural identity.
More than thirty years after his death, Farid Al Atrash is still the single most-played Syrian artist on Syrian radio and television. Farid Al Atrash was one of the best Arabic actors, singers, composers, succeeded in changing the modern Arabic music and enriching it with the western scales, rhythms and orchestration.
Asala Nasri is close to becoming a diva in the grand style but is also a straight-ahead pop star. George Wassouf, with a voice reminiscent of the greatest Tarab Arabic singers. He has found time to release some thirty albums and his gravelly voice remains one of the most distinctive and highly regarded in Arabic music.
Modern singers such as Ali Al Dik and Elias Karam return again and again to traditional themes, with nostalgic songs about village life, as does the great Sabah Fakhri who has been a major voice in Syria for over three decades. He is a singer of considerable stamina and wound up in the Guinness Book of Records for a performance in Caracas, where he sang for an eye-bulging 10 hours without a pause. Samo Zein is very much the 21st century pop package.
The Syrian music was one of the first Arabic music launched in the Middle East and that’s what creates its value and significance worldwide.