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Mizrahit (Stan Vert)

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    "Muzika Mizrahit", Hebrew מוזיקה מזרחית("Oriental music", "Eastern music") or simply "Mizrahit", is an Israeli musical genre.
    The genre is rooted in musical tradition of Jewish people, particularly those who lived in Muslim lands and sometimes called "Mizrahim" or "Oriental Jews"."Mizrahit" songs are usualy mid- and high mid tempo songs with Western type of song structure, combined with Arabic rhythms and ornamentations.(9) It is mostly "party and festivity" kind of music, which is often played at weddings, big family events, in restaurants and clubs. Mizrahit is mainly popular among listeners with "Mizrahi" or "Eastern" ancestry, but continues to gain more general popularity. Some academic researches call  Mizrahit "the major ethnic popular music" of Israel.(1)

    Related genres

    Genres related to Mizrahit are: World, Arabic, Middle Eastern, Kurdish, Persian, Gypsy, Turkish, Balkan, Greek pop, Bellydance, Rai, Fado, Rebetiko, Gulf pop, Malhun, Uzbeki pop, Uighur pop mm.
    Mizrahit is a very suitable genre for fusion. It is widely used in techno and electro DJ remixes.
    There are rock, pop and hip-hop fusion genres.(4) Genre's influence is noticeable throughout Mediterranean and wider Middle East. (5)



    Three elements essential for Mizrahit sound are: "silsulim" or "melisma" - vocal embellishments; electric guitar licks and solos reminding those of Greek bouzouki; darbuka (doumbek) drum rhythms. Songs are usually built around minor progressions with vi–IV changes and usually have refrains. Guitar players employ similar to electric blues approach - playing licks as a reply to a vocal line. Another similarity is in the use of main guitar riff, which holds song together and makes a tune recognizable from the very first notes. Basic Mizrahit music band has the same elements as a basic rock band: drum set, bass and an electric guitars. Extended groups include a percussionist (darbuka and other percussion), a keyboard synth player, who usually plays sampled orchestral strings and ethnic instruments like kanoon, nay etc. Guitar sound is clean, embellished with quick slides and spiced with short delay FX.(3) Synth players sometimes use scale-tuning modules for Arabic quarter-tone scales, but it happens less and less nowadays.(1)

    Vocalists sing mostly in Hebrew, but also in Arabic and sometimes freely mix languages. Typical lyrics are similar to those of Delta blues and tell stories about broken hearts and lives, marriage and money troubles etc, but a significant portion of songs is about love, promises and courting - a typical pop text material. Lyrics are often written in "street language". Although there are some examples of “fine poetry” and “artistic musicianship” alike, this is not something genre-typical.(8)


    In the late 19th and beginning of 20th century Jewish people, who lived in Europe and in Muslim lands like Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Morocco, and Yemen started to move back to their ancient homeland. One of the most significant for the future genre groups was the Yemenite Jews. They are seen by many as keepers of musical traditions. Unlike many other Jews, scattered by invaders and slavers all over Middle East and parts of Europe, Yemenite Jews never left Yemen since settling there around 1600 BCE. A Yemenite community settled in a downtown neighborhood of Tel-Aviv, which is known since 1904 as”Yemenite Vineyard" (Kerem Hateimonim). Those settlers brought the long forgotten in Europe vocal and instrumental traditions with them. Their children grew up singing Israeli Zionist and other state-approved songs at school and got used to Western song form, in which most of Israeli songs were written. Israel was dominated by European Jewish culture, by Russian Jewish authors and compositors, who allowed for some "orientalism" in their works, but almost universally opposed the "Arabisation" of Jewish culture.(6) In the 1960-70s rock music and Greek pop became popular in Israel. Youth with "Eastern" roots played rock and pop covers and blended in their "home music", music of Yemenite, Moroccan, Egyptian origin. A new genre started out as an "ugly duckling", not recognized by cultural elite and ignored by authorities. No air time on radio was given, no professional recordings produced. Since the mid-1970s self-produced recordings were distributed on cassettes. Those tapes were highly popular and quite soon the genre had its own financial and business muscle. Gaining wider recognition through the 1980s, Mizrahit was truly empowered as a genre by high-tech revolution of the 1990s. Cheaper technological solutions opened doors for Mizrahit radio, TV programs, danceclubs and concerts.(2) Today Mizrahit is a mainstream Israeli and international music genre.




    Zohar Argov (1955–1987), one of the pioneers of Mizrahit, known as "The King" of the  genre.   

    Eyal Golan,born 1971, one of the prominent contemporary singers.

    Haim Moshe,born 1955, one of the genre veterans

    Sarit  Hadad, born 1978, crowned "best female singer of the 2000s".

    Yshay Levi, born 1963 "roots" Mizrahi singer and musician.            

    Shlomi Shabat, born 1954, Mizrahit and rock singer .

    Zehava Ben, born 1968  is also well-known for her international projects.

    Amir Benayoun,born 1975, singer-songwriter.

    Eti Levi, born 1968 singer, Zehava Ben's twin-sister.            

    Avi Perez, born 1966  singer and songwriter.

    Daklon, born 1944 - a living legend, "grandpa" of the genre.       

    Moshik Afia, born 1974 singer.

    ... and many others!



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    Popular Music and National Culture in Israel, by Motti Regev and Edwin Seroussi.Berkeley–Los Angeles–London: University of California Press, 2004.
    Paperback, 308 pp., ISBN 0 520 23654 8; Review by Essica Marks

    Mediterranean Israeli Music and the Politics of the Aesthetic, by Amy Horowitz Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2010. 251 pages; Review "Israel's Eastward Beating Heart" by Philip Hollander  (2)

    Music in Israel at Sixty: Processes and Experiences by Edwin Seroussi (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) (1); (8)

    Borderland Pop: Arab Jewish Musicians and the Politics of Performance by Galit Saada-Ophir (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) (1);(6)

    Once Oriental, Mizrahi music goes mainstream by loolwa khazzoom Published

    USING SONGS, ISRAELIS TOUCH ARAB FEELINGS by THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, Special to the New York Times Published: May 3, 1987 (5)

    'Revivo's Project' brings Mizrahi pop back to its Arab roots by Ophir Toubul Published March 11, 2013 (9)

    Sex, drugs and the ‘Mizrahi sound’ by Hagai Ozen Published October 12, 2013 (4)

    Prince of electronic Mizrahi music coming to Tel Aviv By Uri Zer Aviv Apr. 10, 2012 HAARETZ (4)

    Guitar Atlas, Middle East, Jeff Peretz ,  Alfred Publishing Company Inc 2004,  ISBN: 9780739035993 (3)


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    Viewing 2 of 2 comments: view all
    Väldigt intressant och informativ artikel, Stan! Denna musikstil är helt ny för mig och det var kul att läsa om den och lyssna på den. Det verkar som om du har lagt ner mycket tid på artikeln! :) Jag har ingenting att kommentera på förutom att du kanske skulle lägga in korta beskrivningar av artisterna vars bilder du har lagt upp. Det står ingenting om vilka artister som är förgrunden till stilen och så vidare.

    Mycket bra!!!
    Posted 09:04, 22 Sep 2014
    Väldigt spännande musikgenre! Hade aldrig tidigare hört talas om denna så var väldigt kul att höra musikexempel. Skulle vara intressant med lite bakgrunder och beskrivning på artisterna! :)
    Posted 09:48, 22 Sep 2014
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