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Mizrahi music (Hebrew: מוזיקה מזרחית, Muzika Mizrahit) refers to the genre of Middle Eastern style of Israeli Music. It combines elements of Arabic, Turkish and Greek music. brought to Israel by Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. It is usually sung in Hebrew, but may often be combined with lyrics in Arabic or other languages from lands where Jewish Israeli artists may trace their most recent ancestral descent patterns. The literal translation of Mizrahi from Hebrew is "Eastern".

Typical Mizrahi songs will have a dominant violin or string sound as well as Middle Eastern percussion elements.

Emergence of Mizrahi music


In today's Israeli music scene, Mizrahi music is very popular. However, its popularity is a somewhat recent phenomenon. Until the 1970s, the Israeli music industry was dominated by westernized European derived popular Israeli music.

The owners of record labels weren't interested in Mizrahi music but they signed American and European-style rock and pop music, like Kaveret and Shlomo Artzi in the 1960s and 70s, and earlier on "pioneer", more idealistic folk-musicians such as Naomi Shemer and Yehoram Gaon.

Israeli Jews from the Middle East and North Africa have over the last 50 years created a musical style that combines elements of Arabic, Turkish, and Greek music. This is not to be confused with the New Hebrew Style, which was the conscious creation of Eastern European immigrants trying to define their new Israeli identity, the Mizrahit style is spontaneous and indigenous.[1] Initially met with hostility by the mainstream cultural institutions of Israel, it has now become a major force in Israeli music culture.

The Muzika Mizrahit movement started in the 1950s with homegrown performers in neighborhoods with a high concentration of Jews from Arab and North African countries who would play at weddings and other events. They performed songs in Hebrew, but in an Arabic style, on traditional Arabic instruments - the Oud, the Kanun, and the darbuka. In the 1960s, they added acoustic and electric guitar,to their sound and so their sound became more eclectic. Vocalists usually decorated their singing with trills, and delivery was often nasal or guttural in sound. Intonation was typically Western, however; singers did not use the quartertone scales typical of Arabic music.

Lyrics were originally texts taken from classic Hebrew literature, including poems by medieval Hebrew poets. Later they added texts by Israeli poets, and began writing original lyrics as well. An example is the song "Hanale Hitbalbela" (Hannale was confused), sung by Yizhar Cohen. The lyrics are by the modern Israeli poet and lyricist Natan Alterman, to a traditional tune.


Israeli Arabic - Haim Moshe

Haim Moshe


Zohar Argov- Lahla Yizid Aqtar

Zohar Argov - Lahla Yizid Aqtar

The 1970s and onward

One of the first widely popular Mizrahi musicians was Zohar Argov, who was from Rishon LeZion and who had grown up singing in his synagogue. His defining Mizrahi hit, Prach BeGani (פרח בגני) ("Flower in my Garden"). Women also began to play a significant part in popular Mizrahi music, with famous artists such as Sarit Hadad becoming more popular.

There were obvious reasons that mizrahi music should have been played. but instead "The educational and cultural establishment made every effort to separate the second generation of eastern immigrants from this music, by intense socialization in schools and in the media," wrote the social researcher Sami Shalom Chetrit.[2]

The penetration of Muzika Mizrahit into the Israeli establishment was the result of pressure by Sephardic composers and producers such as Avihu Medina, the overwhelming, undeniable popularity of the style, and the gradual adoption of elements of Muzika Mizrahit by mainstream artists. Yardena Arazi, one of Israel's most popular stars, made a recording in 1989 called "Dimion Mizrahi" (Eastern Imagination), and included original materials and some canonic Israeli songs. Also, some performers started developing a fusion style of Muzika Mizrahit, Israeli, Greek, rock, and other styles. These included Yehuda Poliker, and Shlomo Bar, whose group "HaBreira HaTivit" (The Natural Choice) incorporated Sitars, tabla, and other Indian instruments to create a new, "World" style.

The acceptance of Muzika Mizrahit, over the 1990s, parallels the social struggle of Israelis of Sephardic and Mizrahi origin to achieve social and cultural acceptance. "Today, the popular Muzika Mizrahit has begun to erase the differences from rock music, and we can see not a few artists turning into mainstream .... This move to the mainstream culture includes cultural assimilation," writes literary researcher and critic Mati Shmuelof.[3]


Indian movie - Dana International feat. Idan Yaniv - english

Dana International feat. Idan Yaniv

Fusion genres

During time fusions of Mizrahi music with other genres emarged, including oriental rock, hip hop and pop.

Rock Mizrahi

Rock Mizrahi ("oriental rock") is an Israeli musical style combining rock music with middle eastern instruments, compositions and singing techniques. The outcome usually resemble progressive rock. Lead musicians in this genre are Orphaned Land, Knesiyat Hasekhel, Algir (and lead singer Aviv Guedj) and Dudu Tassa. The song "Shtika" by Aviv Geffen and some works by Teapacks could also count though.


Sarit Hadad - Inta Omri 'Hi-Res'

Sarit Hadid - Inta Omri (Arab song)

Well known Mizrahi singers

  • Moshik Afia
  • Jo Amar (1930-2009)
  • Zohar Argov (1955-1987) (Yemenite Jew)
  • Amir Benayoun (Moroccan Jew)
  • Daklon
  • Zehava Ben (Moroccan Jew)
  • Stalos and Oren Chen (Greek Jews)
  • Eyal Golan (Yemenite/Moroccan Jew)
  • Zion Golan (Yemenite Jew)
  • Lior Narkis
  • Ofra Haza (Yemenite Jew) (1957-2000)
  • Sarit Hadad (Azeri Jew)
  • Pini Hadad
  • Dana International (Yemenite Jew)
  • Nati Levi
  • Ofer Levi
  • Bo'az Ma'uda (Yemenite Jew)
  • Haim Moshe (Yemenite Jew)
  • Kobi Peretz (Moroccan Jew)
  • Yehuda Saado
  • Shlomi Shabat (Turkish Jew)
  • Sharif (Arab Druze)
  • Shimi Tavori (Yemenite Jew)
  • Margalit Tzan'ani (Yemenite Jew)
  • Idan Yaniv (Bukharian Jew)
  • Rinat Bar (Georgian Jew)
  • Sarit Yosef (Azeri Jew)
  • Tamir Gal (Libyan Jew/Druze), sings mainly in Hebrew and Turkish


  1. Regev and Seroussi (2004), pp 191-235
  2. Chetrit (2004).
  3. Shmuelof (2006).

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Mizrahi music. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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