Archaeologists have found substantial evidence to show that music is a rich part of Egypt’s cultural history.
Hieroglyphics and texts from Egyptian mythology show that music played a vital role in ancient Egyptian society.
Ihy was the god who presided over music.
Plutarch credits Thoth, also known as Hermes, as having been the one who invented music.
In one papyrus remnant, Osiris was named the “fair sistrum player.
Music was used in some religious ceremonies and sometimes to exorcise evil spirits.
Foreign visitors to Egypt have left records that reveal their admiration or knowledge of Egyptian music.
Plutarch spoke of Egypt’s music about the gods.
We already mentioned his claim that Thoth is the great inventor, but he also claimed that Osiris used music worldwide in his civilizing mission.
There is also evidence that Plato studied in Egypt, and it was said that he greatly praised and admired the standards of Egyptian music.
Dio Cassius claimed that music was related to astrology.
There are also musical references in the domestic writings of Egypt.
In the Old Kingdom (c2686 – 2181 BC), there is evidence of the beginnings of music in Egypt.
The three most prominently instruments in pictures are pipes resembling the clarinet, end-blown flutes, and the harp.
The hieroglyphics also indicate the presence of singers and dancers.
One picture depicts a flutist, a harpist, four dancers, and two singers.
The players seem to be generally male, except women are occasionally seen at the harp.
The men seem to be making signs that could indicate some melody or rhythm with their hands.
There are limited references to Egyptian musicians, but Chufu’ Ankh, a singer, flutist, and court music director.
The Middle Kingdom (c2133 – 1786 BC) brings about some advancement in music.
Barrel-shaped drums come into existence, and the chamber groups seem to get smaller and consist primarily of women.
Evidence shows that melodies are getting more complicated and moving in larger intervals.
In one picture, a long end-blown flute and a large harp accompany a man who sings with his left hand against his ear.
Another shows three singers accompanied by two harps, a sistrum, and a rattle.
The first scene with a lyre takes place in this period.
Egyptian music improvements and additions were made in the New Kingdom (c1580 – 1085 BC).
Different instruments such as pipes of the oboe type with a double reed and trumpets are now seen in pictures.
Melodies are moving in smaller intervals now, and different types of drums and tambourines are being developed.
Also, the lute and the lyre appear more often.
Music is used for liturgical songs, and there is also evidence of different types of singing, such as responsorial.
One picture during this period indicates that there were certain rooms of the royal palace at El-Amarna that were devoted to music.
A dance scene also depicts ten girls, some with tambourines and others with clappers or castanets.
Trumpets are often depicted in military scenes.
After the Conquest of Alexander the Great, the Greeks adopted some aspects of Egyptian music.
Egypt’s music later was greatly influenced by the Arab tradition.
Instruments Found in Ancient Egypt:
Clappers – mostly made of bone or wood
Pipes – both single or double reeds
Lyres – two types, symmetrical and asymmetrical
The harp – the angle, shoulder, and bow
Egypt is one of the boldest countries in the Middle East in the music industry.
The next generation of Egyptian music is considered to rise, as the music was disrupted by some foreign influences, bad admixing, and abused oriental styles.
The new talents from the late 1990s are taking over the rein now as they play different genres of many cultures.
Rock And Metal music is prevailing widely in Egypt now, as much as oriental jazz and folk music are becoming well-known to Egyptian and non-Egyptian fans.
Egyptian music is a rich mixture of indigenous, Mediterranean, African, and Western elements.
Egyptians played harps and flutes in antiquity, including two indigenous instruments: the Ney and the Oud.
Percussion and vocal music have also become an essential part of the local music tradition.
Contemporary Egyptian music traces its beginnings to people’s creative work such as Abdul Hamuli, Almaz, and Mahmud Osman. They influenced Egyptian music giants such as Sayed Darwish, Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab, and Abdel Halim Hafez.
From the 1970s onwards, Egyptian pop music has become increasingly important in Egyptian culture, while Egyptian folk music continues to be played during weddings and other festivities.
Some of the most prominent contemporary Egyptian pop singers include Amr Diab and Mohamed Mounir.