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For hundreds of years, a haunting style of folk music said to leave listeners in an ecstatic, trance-like state has flourished in Aleppo.

For years, Hamam Khairy’s grandfather worked the land with his siblings and children just outside Aleppo, Syria, singing traditional tarab folk songs along to the local radio station as they picked cucumbers, aubergines and tomatoes. To keep the then-infant Hamam quiet, they sat him in a rubber sack and kept the radio next to his ear so he wouldn’t cry.

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Taran Asia Syria