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International Music Resources by Country: Egypt

International Music Resources offers an array of online and physical resources both freely available and/or offered by the George F. DeVine Music Library. The information included in these guides may serve as a starting point for the study and research of

Pyramids of Giza

Citation (1)

Map of Egypt

Map of Egypt

Citation (2)

Listen to Egyptian Music

Ancient Egypt: Music In The Age Of The Pyramids

The Music Of Islam, Vol. 2: Music Of The South Sinai Bedouins, Egypt

Egypt: Coptic Orthodox Church Hymns

El Sultan: Classical Egyptian Dance

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music-Egypt

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Vol 6: The Middle East

Facts in Brief

Flag of Egypt


Capital: Cairo

Official Language: Arabic

Location: The Arab Republic of Egypt occupies the north-eastern corner of the African continent, with an extension across the Gulf of Suez into the Sinai region, which is usually regarded as lying in Asia.

Area: 1,009,450 sq km (389,751 sq miles)

Current Population: 99,845,720

Climate: The main feature of the Egyptian climate is the almost uniform aridity. During the summer temperatures are extremely high, sometimes reaching 38°C–43°C and even 49°C in the southern and western deserts. Winters are generally warm, with very occasional rain, but cold spells occur from time to time and light snow is not unknown. 

Money: The Egyptian Pound (EGP)

Main Religion: Islam 

Citation (3 and 4)

Traditional Egyptian Music

Ancient Music

The importance of music to the ancient Egyptians can hardly be exaggerated. Although idiophones provided Egypt's earliest and most characteristic instruments, temple scenes, tomb paintings and museum collections testify abundantly to the variety and richness of Egyptian music-making. Classical authors preserved many traditions about ancient Egyptian music. Dio Cassius (Roman History, xxxvii.18) stated that Egyptian music was closely connected with astrology. 

Classical and Popular Traditions

In 20th-century Egyptian conceptualizations of music, its domains and styles and the terms used to designate them are multifarious, reflecting individual perspectives, social status, political conjuncture, religious convictions, commercial interests, changing musical referents and academic concerns. Egyptian music historians and theorists and some urban musicians use the term mūsīqā both as a generic designation for a wide range of musical domains and as a specific term referring to Arab instrumental music, as distinct from ghinā’(vocal music)

qirā'a: (reading) or tilāwa (recitation) and is conceptualized as a unique and separate art, although it shares several of the expressive features of Arab secular music, including melodic modes, improvisation and vocal artistry. 

tajwīd: a system that governs proper recitation by regulating phonetics, timbre, rhythm, tempo, beginning and pause

Citation (5)

Umm Kulthum 1904-1975

Headshot of Umm Kalthum

She was born to a poor family. Her father, al-Shaykh Ibrāhīm al-Baltājī, was an official of the local mosque; he sang religious songs (al-inshād al-dīnī) and recited the story of the Prophet Muhammad’s life (al-qiṣṣa al-nabawiyya) for weddings and other festive occasions in nearby villages. Umm Kulthum learned to sing as a child by listening to him teaching her older brother Khālid. When he discovered the unusual strength of his daughter’s voice, her father asked her to join the family ensemble. She sang religious songs normally performed by males and appeared dressed as a boy to avoid the disapprobation that her father might face as a result of putting his daughter on stage.

Umm Kulthum had a powerful voice and wide range with uniform strength throughout. She developed control that allowed her to extend phrases and to alter resonance and placement in delicate and artistic ways, and she applied these skills to the affective delivery of lines of poetry, inventing multiple renditions of important lines. In so doing, she advanced the historic Arab art of sung poetry.

During the 1950s and 60s she became a major cultural figure. She supported the initiatives of President Jamāl ‘Abd al-Nāṣir and, following Egypt’s defeat in the 1967war, launched a series of concerts to replenish the Egyptian treasury, beginning in Paris and continuing throughout the Arab world. When she died, she was called ‘the voice and face of Egypt’.

Citation: Danielson, V.  (2001). Umm Kulthum. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 30 Mar. 2020, from



(1): This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license,

(2): Country Map (Egypt), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 11 October 2018 from

(3): Country Flag (Egypt), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 11 October 2018 from

(4): Egypt, in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 11 October 2018 from

(5): Anderson, R., Castelo-Branco, S., & Danielson, V.  Egypt, Arab Republic of. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 21 Jun. 2021, from