Saudi Arabia: Don’t Play the Piano too Loudly

Any music other than “natural” music such as that made by beating ones hands on traditional drums is considered haram in Saudi Arabia.  But that does not mean one does not hear music or see Saudis enjoying musical recitals, listening to the radio or their Ipod or enjoying the beat of music in other ways.


In fact in spite of the cultural traditions which may dictate against music, there are indeed musical stores throughout Saudi Arabia.  These stores will carry a variety of instruments such as flutes, saxophones, clarinets, guitars, electric keyboards and traditional pianos.  While these stores have a presence in popular shopping malls it is what I would call a “discreet” presence in that the store and the instruments are there.  The sales staff are overall knowledgeable about the instruments.  But the catch is if you attempt to try out one of the instruments, such as a guitar or a piano, the sales staff become very nervous and discourage playing an instrument for fear it would be heard by a nearby muttawa and cause problems.


I learned this when I was visiting one of the music stores as I have always avidly enjoyed playing the piano!  I have found that after a stressful day there is nothing better for me to alleviate the stress than by “banging out” Bach or Beethoven or another classical piece on the piano.  This is the first time in a long time I’ve been without a piano in my home so I am embarking on the hunt for a quality used piano.  While a matter of personal preference I feel that the tone of the piano sounds better in the older pianos with real ivories than many of today’s keyboards with plastic coated keys.  I have not found an active used piano market yet in Saudi Arabia but will let you all know when I have done so.


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