Al Balabil- The Nightingales البلابل were a supremely famous girl-band in early 70’s Sudan. They were three sisters Hadia, Aamal,& Hayyatt…See them singing below and here.
What’s of note about their diversity of sound, is that Al Balabil’s music, from the 1950s to today, ranges from 50s reverb guitars to tribal chanting, vocals that sound not unlike an Urdu or Hindi ghazal, with Asian scales on strings, and African drums and digital
accompaniment in more recent performances, all sung in an Arabic that makes Sudanese more accessible to other Arab speaking nations than their neighbours.
The reason for the relatively Asian sound in Sudanese music is the pentatonic scale by which it is mostly characterised. Beginning with the imposition of strict sharia law in 1989, the country’s most prominent musicians and poets, like poet Mahjoub Sharif, were imprisoned while others fled to Cairo to return in the early 2000s.
Traditional Zār ceremonies kept being interrupted at this time, and drums confiscated, and all the while the European military were introducing new instruments and styles to the Sudanese including aspects of their own military bands, especially the Scottish bagpipes. They set traditional Sudanes music to military marches; the march March Shulkawi No 1, is an example, featuring a Shilluk.
Sudan is very diverse, it is the third largest country in Africa and contains five hundred plus ethnic groups. Sudan’s rich musical background is due its having been a crossroads between North, East and West Africa for hundreds of years, it is mainly inhabited by a mixture of Sub-Saharan Arabs and Africans who draw on a rich lineage of cultural influences, of which Al Balabil are a very modern example.