The ancient music of Egypt started from the Upper Egypt which is the South part actually (Due to Nile, if you may not remember from geograpgy lessons). The music was well established before the arrival of Islam and gave some of it's aspects to it also. The music culture mainly belonged to Fellahin which is the general term for bedouins and mountain dwellers. Since Upper Egypt was and still is not a very crowded place in terms of population concentration, it not only had a significance of enjoyment, but was a social expression as well. The main instrument was Rabab which is a sort of a fiddle with one or two strings. This type of instrument later on was used in lots of other regions with the same or similar names.
The music in this region was mainly played by a Shaer (Poet/Singer). The music was accompanied by the Shaer's story, poem or the narrative of a past event. This was also a way of information sharing. Of course, love stories, daily struggles were in the subjects of these songs, but any critical event that has happened also found it's way here and was then passed from city to city, town to town.
The music in general is made up of three different parts. The first piece, Aamedat El Karnak, is a Taqsim which is in modern understanding the intro as well as the solo performance of the main artist. It is not a jam session. The artist takes a piece of the main song and develops an improvised solo by building on it. The second piece Ya Faraoule is a love song which is quite joyful with fast rhythmic structure. The third piece Zahrat El Loxor is similar in terms of structure to the second piece, but this one is only instrumental. However, the best example of ancient Egyptian music is the fourth piece Abou Zeid El Hilali by Shamandi Tewfick Metqal. This is the standard shaer way and has been a refreshing piece all in all. It tells the story of Hilali which is a legend from the 11th century.
One thing should be noted that the music itself is quite simple with many repetitions of the main theme creating the general song. There are certain rhythmic changes when something of importance has to be noted (With lyrical songs), but apart from that the music is mainly repetitive. However, this is true for the ancient music. The modern examples have been quite adopted, but the main theme is still religiously followed albeit small changes within the song.
Some may know, the best example of singers in this category is Oum Kalsoum. Even though she was not a shaer herself, she sang these songs and has earned a mythical respect within the Middle East region and a worldwide recognition. Egypt entered a stand still during her Thursday radio concerts. Even wars entered a stand still when she was to give a concert. Therefore this record is a chance to listen to the background of the music which led to her. Believe me you will enjoy it.
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