Debke of the Syrian Coast

Debke of the Syrian Coast Podcast
دبكة الساحل السوري


Debke is a kind of folk music native to Arabic countries of the Levant. It's accompanying dance resembles the folk dance of most countries, people dance in a circle holding hands to specific steps. Each region has its own particular songs and dances that it is known for.

However the modern state of debke is not a timeless tradition as shown in the above picture. In Lebanon for example debke has been adapted to modern pop conventions and utilized by the likes of Melhem Zaen and Fares Karam as well as countless others, neatly packaged and marketed for Lebanese consumers. In other countries such as Palestine, debke is considered a piece of Arabic cultural heritage and history, tied to identity and pride. Nonetheless, each Arabic community has its local modern performs, and Syria is no exception. Most of the debke being recorded there is lo-fi, sometimes live performances from concerts and parties, with recordings often being distributed on unorganized, poorly labeled MP3 CDs and cassettes.



Normally debke songs can be quite long, 10 minutes or longer, with long org (electric keyboard) solos and plenty of repetition. In order to maximize space, this podcast presents recent debke and itaba (عتابا) in one long mix that serves as one continuous performance. The songs in this mix all represent music of the Syrian coast with a very broad meaning, including basically all cities West of Deir Ezzor (that's another story).

1. Saria al-Sawas - Just Listen What I Say (translation available)
سارية السواس - بس اسمع مني

This is one of the biggest hits to come out of the Syrian Debke scene in the past year. See song page for more

2. Mohamed Nour - Drive Me Crazy (4:24)
محمد نور - جنني

Can somebody confirm the artist for this, there is some confusion?

3. Mohamed Nour - A,B Boobaye (7:23) (translation available)
محمد نور- ألف باء وبوبايه

This song features a little rhyming game, where the singer announces a letter, the sings a rhyming line utilizing that letter. To hear the full song see song page for more


4. Saleh el-Sheikh - Tattoo (10:13)
صالح الشيخ - تاتو

A song about a girl that drives him wild. At one point he says, "There's not a married man who's seen you whose wife hasn't yelled at him."

5. Ali Dyoub - Get Up and Dance Girl (13:38)
علي ديوب - قومي تندبك ولدة

This is a Bedouin style debke, telling a girl to get up and debke to make everyone else at the gathering get up and celebrate as well.

6. Fariha al-Abdullah (17:25)
فريحة العبدلله

Don't know the title, any help?

7. Jelal Hamade - Heater (21:19)
جلال حمادة - صوبا

The song starts out describing people sitting around a heater, the kind that burns fuel or wood not an electric heater.

8. Ozeina al-Ali - If Only (24:53) (translation available)
أذينة العلي - يا ريتك

This song has an air of melancholy and longing, yet still contains some great org solos. He's saying "if only you would come to me." To hear the full song see the song page for more

9. Bassam Bitar - Under Her Howdah (28:51) (translation available)
بسام بيطار - تحت هودجها

This is a modern take on a well-known Syrian folk song. For the full song see song page for more

10. Mayada al-Ali - Don't Remind Me (31:41)
ميادة العلي - لا تذكرني

11. Mounir Hamade - The Gardens (35:40)
منير حمادة - كروم التينة

He's singing for a girl he really loves, telling her to come back.

12. Ali al-Deek - Abu Shahade (38:10)
علي الديك - أبو شحادة

Ali al-Deek is one of the most famous Syrian artists performing Debke. This song is a plea to a stubborn father that won't let the singer marry his daughter. Many consider him to be the lamest figure in contemporary Syrian culture, Ali al-Deek that is, not the father.

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