Taarab Music in Kenya


Taarab Music: Also called ‘tarabu’ or ‘tarab’, it is the most popular music along the East African coast.

The Kenyan Coast has been a centre of trade with the Middle East and Asia, and taarab music reflects many cultures. The genre is popularly known as Swahili wedding music, since taarab musicians and music are an essential part of the festivities.

Taarab incorporates Swahili, Arabic, Indian and Egyptian cultures. The instruments range from Middle Eastern oud and dumbek, Indian tabla, Western keyboards and the Japancse tuishokoto (described as a banjo/typewriter-key hybrid).

Similarly, taarab rhythms reflect traditional ‘ngoma’ dances like ‘chakacha’. Taarab lyrics radiate with the allusive intricacies of Swahili poetry.


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