Mediterranean Music – Palestine

Israel-Palestine border crossing sign
Photo from Cyprus Mail Online

This imaginary trip is by road.

Each chapter so far has been marked by a border crossing or the approach to a border crossing. What was simple in the western, European part of the Mediterranean was the ease with which one could define a border. Even administrative borders in Spain and France are easy to see and borders within Schengen Europe are easy to cross. Here, some 8,000 km by the coast roads from Gibraltar the borders are more complex. From our past stop in Beirut until at least Cairo, getting from A to B with necessitate diversions, major diversions.

“Computer – plan a road trip form Beirut to Gaza”

According to Google Maps, from Beirut to either Ramallah, if we are going next to Palestine, or Nahariyya, if we are going to Israel, demands going back through Syria, south to Jordan and then through Israel to the coast or south through Israel to Ramallah. Want to go to Gaza? Forget it.

I mention Nahariyya only because it is 100 km as the crow flies and 4 times that following the route identified map. Ramallah as a destination because currently it “serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority.” But I’m not here to solve geo-political conundrums. I am in search of music and I’m going to Palestine, then Israel then Egypt. Ideally, I would be travelling to Tel Aviv and Gaza to stick with the spirit of the project – music from the Mediterranean.

Enough of the prologue.



Want to travel further?

Exploring the music of the Mediterranean (introduction) – 

Gibraltar – Andalusia (or Andalucía) – Murcia – Valencia – Catalonia –  France Monaco – Italy’s North West – Western Italy – Italy – Toe to heel – Slovenia Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Montenegro – AlbaniaGreece – TurkeySyriaLebanonIsraelPalestineEgyptLibyaTunisiaAlgeriaMorocco



To the music

The music from Palestine has been remarkably rewarding and diverse, from the electronic experimental and political Checkpoint 303 album The Iqrit Files (an album I have known for some time) through the more traditional Chehade Brothers and El-Funoun traditional dance troupe.

If you have not been following, the idea of this journey is simple; to find the Horslips of any given country along the Mediterranean coast. Of course, it is my play and my rules which I may change at any point. As we move out of Europe into an entirely different cultural contract, that proposition becomes redundant. I’m still looking for musicians who have modern interpretations of traditional music. But I am now open to much more and here in Palestine and later in Israel and Egypt and further in my journey, I am finding the most wonderful experimental electronic, dance and real traditional music.

Here is the Palestine playlist

As it stands now the Palestine playlist is about 60 minutes. But I will draw your attention to the first half dozen acts. You can do your own research for the rest.


Checkpoint 303 – the Iqrit Files. I can’t remember how I came across this album, but it sits in my favourite albums list. Roots World says :

The Iqrit Files concerns the 1948 evacuation and 1951 reduction to rubble of the Palestinian village by that name near the Lebanon border, and more recent efforts of its descendants to return. The CD combines field recordings, radio broadcast clips, ambient everyday sounds, the ritual Upper Galilee singing of Jawaher Shofani and Wardeh Sbeit, and the poetry of Jihad Sbeit. Running through the mix are voice samples including Eleanor Roosevelt’s reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the historic UN roll call vote that made it international law (“In 1948”), Albert Einstein’s reflections on the example of Gandhi’s passive resistance (“My Homeland”), Nelson Mandela’s US interview only shortly after his 1990 prison release (“A’ataba”), and a 1980 interview with Bob Marley (“I Climbed the Top of the Mountain”). Add to that the menacing sonic aura of a military checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem (“Road to Jerusalem”) and the chanting of demonstrators returning to Iqrit to bury their dead. As Iqrit’s children remark, “They do not accept us living [there] anymore, but we are still allowed to die there.”

A more traditional even classical music from Ramzi Aburedwan

Ramzi Aburedwan “was born in Bethlehem in 1979 and he spent his childhood in Al Amari refugee camp (Ramallah). In 1997, he met the music by chance and joined then the Edward-Said National Conservatory of Music; he got then a scholarship to go and learn viola in France, where he got his music diplomas. While there, he created Al Kamandj.ti Association in order to bring the same opportunity to the other Palestinian children. Today Ramzi is a viola and a bouzouq player. He is also the founder of Dalouna, a Palestinian music group who tries to highlight the classical and folkloric Palestinian and oriental repertoire. In 2010, he created the National Ensemble of Arabic Music of Palestine.”

Chehade Brothers  may well be my Horslips of Palestine.

“Farid and Rami Chehade, who perform professionally as the Chehade Brothers, are Palestinian-Lebanese musicians and singers.

Natives of the Old City of Jerusalem, Farid (born in 1975) and Rami (born in 1976) Chehade started studying music at a very young age and have come to master the oriental musical and poetical art forms of zajal, ghazal, hija’a and taqsim. Their professional career as The Chehade Brothers was launched by multifaceted artist and producer Michel Elefteriades. While Rami is the singer in the band, both brothers demonstrate virtuosity in playing all known Arabic musical instruments, ranging from melodic instruments like oud, buzuq, kanun, kamanja and ney to rhythmic instruments like tabla, katem and riq.” Wikipedia

They would be in the top three of bands from this place to see in concert.

Rim Banna

The Rim Banna album ( with Bugge Wesseltoft Norwegian jazz musician), Voice of Resistance next is an atmospheric electronic album.  Rim Banna (Arabic: ريم بنا‎; 8 December 1966 – 24 March 2018) was a Palestinian singer, composer, arranger and activist, who was most known for her modern interpretations of traditional Palestinian songs and poetry. Banna was born in Nazareth,. Banna died in her hometown of Nazareth on 24 March 2018 following a nine-year struggle with breast cancer

Ruba Shamshoum ( ربى شمشوم) from Nazereth lives in Dublin

Ruba’s music draws from the harmony, sensibility,improvisation, and playfulness of jazz, mixed with tinges of Middle Eastern and Arabic musical elements that compliment her style and bring it to unique and distinctive places.”

I just love it.

Nazereth seems to be the home of many of the musicuans I have listed. Le Trio Joubran is an oud trio playing traditional Palestinian music. The trio consists of the brothers Samir, Wissam, and Adnan Joubran, originally from the city of Nazareth. Less my Horslips, more my Mostar Sevdah Reunion of Palestine.

There is beautiful music n this list – please listen and enjoy. The go find more and add to it.


Next Israel

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