The Rough Guide To Palestine

This essential compilation includes voices of Palestinians who live in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel, and in the diaspora: music is one of the ways in which Palestinians communicate their identity no matter where they are.

Toot Ard are a roots reggae band from the Golan Heights. Their lyrics deal with universal themes: ‘about going back to nature, on the disappearance of national borders and about the idea of freedom’. Jowan Safadi is an avant-garde rocker from Nazareth who makes ‘Hafla (Party) Rock’ but here jams on an African blues feel. Khalas are a full-fat heavy metal band and ramp it up on ‘Badek Zafi’ with thrashing guitars and a sufi-inspired ney.

Amal Murkus’ distinctive hazy vocal and passionate style is inspired by the folk music of her beloved homeland and by the great classical divas of Arabic music. Amal features again on atmospheric track ‘If I Could Go Back In Time’ with the most highly-profiled Palestinian hip-hop collective DAM. Sanaa Moussa’s ‘Wea’younha’ is inspired by Palestinian songs that date all the way back to the Ottoman period. Haya Zaatry works on a more acoustic flex on the gentle guitar-led ‘Manakir’.

Oud maestro Hosam Hayek is heard on ‘Give Me The Flute’ taken from his album Stranger In My Homeland. Awan Group features an oud alongside violin and percussion on ‘Nahawand’. Le Trio Jourban also underline the importance of the oud in Palestinian music on the driving track ‘Nawwâr’.

Shadi Zaqtan’s thoughtful contribution ‘Fi Ballad’ angles towards a more pop feel. Swinging ‘Ya Ktabna’ is contributed by Momken Band. Futuristic sharp-edged track ‘Tojann’ is by jazz guitarist and composer Michel Sajrawy from Nazareth and is his interpretation of a style he coins ‘Arab-bop’.

Palestine is a land with a uniquely scarred history and its creative voices are often overlooked in the reportage of its crises. This Rough Guide celebrates the passion and diversity of today’s thriving music scene. 

Palestinian Music On YouTube

'If I Could Go Back In Time' by DAM speaks out for women's rights, read the English translation of the lyrics.