A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

Sawt music in the Arabian Gulf and Tunisia

Issue 33
Sawt music in the Arabian Gulf and Tunisia

We were inspired to write about Sawt after reading numerous studies about this ancient musical form.

In this paper, I focus on Sawt in Tunisia and in the Arabian Gulf, specifically Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen. These two regions have commonalities although they are thousands of kilometres apart. I drew on different studies, and conducted a descriptive analytical field study similar to Poul Rovsing Olsen’s study in Bahrain.

This study clarifies the differences between Sawt in the Arabian Gulf and in Tunisia based on the differences in the two regions’ musical practices and in their societies, psychologies and economies.

We notice that this term has unclear connotations in Tunisia, even for some musicians and researchers, because this form is specific to certain parts of the country. A form of Bedouin music, it has not been studied by academics due to:

  • Political conditions
  • The lack of understanding of this folk art because it differs from formal music
  • Academia’s lack of interest in oral folk art

It is apparent from various studies that Sawt is better established in the Arabian Gulf than it is in Tunisia.

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