Music plays a major role in the Sultanate of Oman and it's a vital part of all important life events like the birth, marriage and death of an individual. Unlike other Arab countries, all Omanis take part in music regardless of age or sex. On national days of celebration, each region and governorate prepares their own celebration of Oman's culture. There are more than 130 known forms of traditional music in the country. Different regions of the country have their own celebrated musical cultures. Most traditional music of Oman is accompanied by dancing and recitation of poetry, though the styles differ between regions. Dhofar region in southern Oman has a tradition called Al-Bar'ah which includes a war-like dance and tribal chanting. It is performed in a half-circle by both men and women.
As a primarily desert country with a long coastline, Oman's music can be typically divided into 'sea music' and 'desert music'. The many songs can be attributed to various tasks performed by the locals across the day. Some examples of sea music are shallat al-baura for pulling the anchor of a boat, nazag sheraa for hoisting the sail, and yarah mashumah for rowing the boat. The Bedouins of the country have their own musical culture, as do the locals in Oman's mountain ranges. Other common themes in Omani music are longing, homesickness, and travel.
What Are The Instruments Used?The Omanis have many instruments used in their music. They have a number of string instruments. The tambura, also called fann at-tanbura or nuban, is a six-string instrument. The strings called 'khiyut' are beaten with a horn. This instrument draws its influence from Africa.
The rababa is considered the 'mother of all string instruments'. It has one, two, and four string versions. The Omani version called rababit ash-shair has one string. Unlike a violin, it is played vertically with the instrument placed on the player's thigh. The rababa is rarely used nowadays, but it was once integral to Oman's music. Another important string instrument is the oud. It is commonly used in Arab music. It has a short wooden neck. It commonly has five or six strings. Other instruments used in Omani music are the duff (tambourine), khulkhal (ankle bracelet), qassaba (flute) and a surnay (wooden oboe of Beluchi origin).
Patronage of the SultanAlthough music has always been an important part of Oman's culture, it was revitalized by Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said when he came to power in 1970. The decade after his ascension is considered the Renaissance of Oman. The Sultan known to play the oud himself and has great knowledge of Western classical music. He was determined to give the country's music a structured program, which resulted in the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra in 1985.
Other ways in which the Sultan patronised music in the country include the new Department of Musicology at the Qultan Qaboos University, music education in schools and the formation of the Muscat Festival. The Oman Centre for Traditional Music was created in 1984 to document the country's traditions. The Centre now has over 20,000 photographs, 500 audio-visual media and sound recordings in its archives.