Best of Taarab Music. Every Sunday from 3pm.
History of the Taarab Music
Taarab (also known astarabu or tarab) is a type of music that borrowsheavily from genres across the world. It has Indian, Persian, European and Arab influences with Swahili lyrics. According to Gilbert Rougetin the book Music And Trance(1985), the word taarab is a deviation of an Arabic verb “tariba”. This music is synonymous with the East African coast and is closely associated with Swahili culture and way of life.
Taarab music has deep roots and is believed to have started in the Zanzibar Town off the East African coast. The many influences of this music reflect the various cultures that have passed through this trading area overmany years. As a regional art-form Taarab incorporates Swahili, Arabic and Egyptian cultures.
Singer Siti binti Saad is a trailblazer who revolutionized Taarab music in a way that is still felt today in Zanzibar and all the other regions along the Indian Ocean coast where Taarab is popular. She was born in 1880 in Zanzibar, during the era of the Arab slave traders. Her family’s living conditions were deplorable and they engaged in pottery and agriculture to make ends meet. When she came of age, Siti left her home village for the city. Lacking any formal education, it wasn’t long before she met Ali Muhsin of NadiIkhwani Safa, a Taarab group indebted to the Sultan at that time. Muhsin recognized Siti’s gift and decided to teach her to sing along to the group’s Taarab instrumentals. She also played the tari or rika.