Aisha’s Egypt: Mizmar-izing Music


My Daughter Watching An Egyptian Horse Dancing To Mizmar Music

The greatest thing about having a blog is my opportunity to share all the excitement of everyday life in Egypt. From my high school days, I have loved Middle Eastern music. I made weekly trips to the Record Store in town to check out the latest LP’s in the World Music bin, spending my saved up lunch money on awesome sounds instead of disgusting cafeteria food. When cassette players came out, I made cassette copies of my albums, and I still have several of those old cassette tapes. Fast forwarding to my forties, when Mohamed and I married and he came to us in the States, I once played my favorite old cassette while we were driving. He listened in amazement and asked where did I get that music? He told me the name of the artist and the song, and said he listened to this when he was growing up, back in his village in Egypt! We were stunned to think that we were both enjoying the same music 25 years earlier, on two separate ends of the earth!


Any foreign music is fine with me, but the more traditional folk music is really great to my ears and heart. The more strange it sounds, the more I like it. See these guys playing the horns in the picture below? This is a traditional “Saeedi” band, meaning they play in the traditional manner of the folks in South, or Upper, Egypt.

They are very popular at weddings, and the famous dancing horses of Egypt are trained to dance to the tune of the mizmar, the long horns you see the men playing in the picture. It’s wonderful fun and quite exciting to witness a wedding in Egypt!

The mizmar is an ancient musical instrument still found all over the Middle East. If you’ve ever seen a snake charmer playing his horn in front of a reed basket with a snake dancing to his tune, you have seen a mizmarist in action. It looks and sounds a bit like a trumpet, but an accomplished Egyptian can easily turn a kazoo into an awesome mizmar. My blogging friend Julie from Browsing The Atlas, lately did a post from the Kazoobie Kazoo Factory in Beaufort, SC and inspired me to write this post so I can share my first experience of love for mizmar music. It was years before moving to Egypt, while we were still living on our farm in South Carolina. We were at a farmer market one day and all the kids were handed kazoos. I got one for Mohamed, too, as he was interested to find out what is this funny sounding little plastic toy making all the kids so excited. After figuring it out and humming a few notes into it, he blew us all away with his impersonation of a Saidi Mizmarist! I swear the snakes wanted to come out of hiding to dance in front of him, he was so cool! It was my fate, I couldn’t help myself, I fell in love with mizmar music from that moment and the relationship keeps getting better and better!

Traditionally, the mizmar is made only from one solid piece of wood from an apricot tree. First the wood is lathed to achieve the correct shape, then finger holes are made, and then the mouthpiece is attached.

Here’s an excellent youtube video showing how a traditional mizmar is made:

The mizmar can vary in size and length, giving different tonal qualities to the instrument. These days you can also find mizmars made from the wood of Beech trees, and also of metal, adding quite a lot of variety to the instrument’s sounds. Whatever the size or composition of the mizmar, once you’ve hear one, you’ll always recognize another one instantly. The mizmar is, for me, the quintessential sound of the Middle East, able to “mizmar-ize” my imagination, carrying me on an unforgettable magic carpet ride with its delightfully exotic sound!

Here’s a video of a live band in Egypt, featuring great mizmar music, among other exciting things to see:

And finally, here’s a great clip of the Egyptian dancing horses, and an extra bonus of traditional Saidi fun in the second half of this clip!


Today, I’m linking up this post with two separate groups, since it works out great for me that way. First, I am happy to finish this post in time to get in the door at Jakesprinters Sunday Post where you will find Jake does excellent 3D graphic animations and hosts the Sunday Post challenge. This week’s prompt is “With A Musical Instrument” and I must add some credit to him as well for inspiring me to write this post. Click his link here to check out his great blog and get inspired by all the great posts lined up there!

Secondly, I’m also doing Blogging 101, Zero To Hero, and this is day 3’s assignment, “A Penny For Your Thoughts.”
We’re asked to make a post about why we first wanted to make a blog, and I’m really looking forward to seeing all the other responses! Join us at:


I'm taking part in Blogging 101: Zero To Hero!

39 thoughts on “Aisha’s Egypt: Mizmar-izing Music

  1. I enjoyed your post! It’s so fun and educating reading about things you never heard of:) Thank you for follow my blog.
    Happy Easter or Ostara or as we say in Sweden Glad PΓ₯sk:)


    • Isnt that amazing! Her music is wonderful, there’s nothing better for me than listening to a huge orchestra performing om kolthoum music! So happy for your visit, thanks! β™₯β™₯β™₯ ;^)


  2. First of all, thanks for the shout out. I think you’re the greatest admirers of kazoos that I’ve come across. πŸ™‚

    I love that you nd your husband were both listening to the same music at the same time, worlds away. Serendipity. I love the sound of the mizmar, too. It reminds me of the clarinet, but more exotic. I had no idea that horses dance to this. Wow! Thanks for sharing that piece of Egyptian culture with us.

    Btw- your daughter is beautiful and looks so happy. πŸ™‚


    • Lol thanks for all the sweet words! I’m so glad you liked the post! Those horses really are awesome to watch. My daughter was enchanted with them! Thanks for visiting! β™₯β™₯β™₯ ; ^)


  3. Hi there Aisha,

    Judging for that coincidence with Regard to music, you and your future husband serΓ© meant to meet and be together… I truly believe we have a soulmate waiting for us… Although that does not mean we Will find It..

    Best Regards, Aquileana πŸ™‚


    • Yes, it’s really true, Aquileana, I do believe in soul mates for each of us. Timing is not in our hands, tho, so we never know when it will happen… but I guess there’s better chances for love than for winning the lottery, lol! Mohamed and I have other really amazing coincidences like this… dont want to give them away, they’ll show up in the emails as I get to them in joyride. I do truly believe we were meant to be together, and I even believe God engineered it to happen, way before we met! It’s been a kind of proof for us that fate is a reality in our lives. β™₯β™₯β™₯ ; ^)


  4. Aisha; I’ve been reading all of your posts about your new husband and life in the Middle East. I think that you are an example of someone who becomes proactive in finding that soulmate. Thanks for sharing all these emails with us and the gradual unraveling of your fascinating voyage in life to enlighten us all with wisdom and courage.


    • Thank you so much, Maria, that’s such a good point! Yes, I think it’s really important to be proactive about finding our soulmate, because I truly do believe that “God helps those who help themselves.” In Islam we also learn that “God makes it easy for us to go in the direction we want.” So, trusting God, helping ourselves, and taking a step in the right direction is a great way to start, and pretty profound instruction, especially if you are wanting to find a soulmate! Thanks so much for reading, and for your great comment! β™₯β™₯β™₯ ;^)


  5. What an enjoyable post Aisha.. First I loved the picture of your daughter.. and second Love the music.. Flute music is something special.. I loved listening.. and the horse dancing memorising.. thank you.. Its so important to retain culture…. Thank you so much for sharing .. Love Sue


    • Thanks very much, Sue, I think you are the best person I know about with a great interest in retaining your culture. I think you probably know some really great flute music to share, too! I love ambient music and it often features native indian flutes and other wonderful sounds which I enjoy very much!


      • I have lots of CDs with Native American Flute music.. I played the Recorder at school… ( Not very good mind you ) πŸ˜‰ But there is something about a flute which gives off a melody of melancholy and mystery when played a certain way.. And it can change to be vibrant and exhilarating also.. to be lively and jolly… Love it.. :-).. As for culture.. I was brought up in a small village where we used to give blessings to the wells.. and Dress the wells with flowers.. I will try to come back and find a link to one of my posts I did on them.. πŸ™‚ If you are interested..


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