Yemenite Music

If your group is considering a program on Yemenite music or simply wants to enhance a book discussion or speaker with some music, the following resources will be useful.

  • A 30-minute visually beautiful documentary presents traditional chants and instruments as well as the evolution of Yemenite music to rhythmic, polyphonic music popular today in Israel and beyond. The significance of women in Yemenite culture as poets, dancers, and musicians is also featured.
  • Two professional groups are available for concerts:
  • Expert speaker on Jewish Music:
    Marsha Bryan Edelman, Ed.D.
    Professor Emerita in Jewish Music and Education, Gratz College
    Speaker on Yemenite and Mizrahi music
    Contact:; cell 347-782-2746
  • Solo performances by two of the best-known Israeli female pop singers, both of Yemenite background:
  • A biography of Sara Levi-Tanai, a woman whose parents fled Yemen by foot at the end of the 19th century. Levi-Tanai became a teacher, poet, composer and choreographer, a key figure in the development of Israeli music and dance.
    • This short love poem, a small example of her work based on Yemenite folktales, evokes the themes and images of Henna House:

My Sweetheart
Machmad Levavi – Original Hebrew by Sara Levi-Tanai

Does a bird contain its voice
when the scorching sun rises?
Does a beautiful flower confine its scent
when the spring casts its magical spell?

Let my sweetheart not confine his yearning
inspired by my voice’s joy
between twilights
at the opening of my tent.

Shall the valley run away from the hill?
Shall the river slip away from the sea?
Is night to day not a brother
as the moon to a dream?

  • A fine example of musical composition influenced by Yemenite/ Mizrachi rhythms and melody: Setting by Paul Ben-Haim recorded by Rinat Choir (Nat’l Choir of Israel)– Roni Akara (Sing O’Barren)  text is Isaiah, 54

    Roni Akara (Ben Haim)

  • Paul Ben Haim and Bracha Zefira: A German born musician and world class composer, and an early Yemenite folksinger. Their professional association provided important direction to the creation of a “Mediterranean sound”, a beautiful merging of Eastern and Western musical traditions.




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