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El Tanbura


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El Tanbura are a collective of veteran master musicians, singers, fishermen and Sufi philosophers. For the past 17 years they have been custodians to some of Egypt’s oldest folk traditions at their home in Port Said, at the gate to the Suez Canal. Their music is driven by the seductive call of the Simsimiyya - an ancient lyre dating back to the times of the Pharaohs.

The origins of the Simsimiyyia are lost in the mist of time and legend. It’s modern history comes to life in the 1930s, when Café owners in Port Said often employed a player to entertain their customers in the old-time smoking dens. Adopting influences from other styles of local folk music and local Sufi beliefs, the instrument quickly gained in popularity, eventually drawing large audiences and a new repertoire known simply as Simsimiyya was created. This popular success was followed by a downturn after the war: economic difficulties and widespread commercialisation led to a decline of the tradition in the late 1970s, and many of the old masters simply withdrew from performing, disillusioned and tired.

El Tanbura’s founder, Zakaria Ibrahim first heard the Simsimiyyia in Port Said as a young boy in the 1950s. The sound of the instrument stayed in his memory ever since, and in 1980, he decided to dedicate himself to seeking out the old masters and convince them to perform once again. In 1989 a small nucleus of veteran performers came together to form the El Tanbura group.


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  • lucycaboosie

    Absolutely fantastic. El Tanbura and the Bedouin Jerry Can Band are the best!

    5 Apr 2012 Reply
  • selcukalhan

    pretty guys, their music deserves respect

    5 Jun 2011 Reply
  • JustSpectre

    Definitely one of the most amazing egyptian band.

    11 Sep 2010 Reply
  • B0di

    I'm an idiot for not listening to them before now!!! :s

    14 Aug 2009 Reply

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