Misirlou [Μισιρλού (Greek) Mısırlı (Turkish) مصر Miṣr (Arabic)] is considered a traditional Greek folk song, although Turkish and Arabic cultures also claim the tune as their own. While the original composer of the song is not known, Arabic, Greek and Jewish musicians were playing it in the 1920s. The song’s oriental melody has been so popular that many people claim it to be a folk song from their own country. The tune is a simple Middle Eastern melody, since it is roughly the ascending and descending double harmonic scale (C-Db-E-F-G-Ab-B).
The piece, as an instrumental work, gained worldwide popularity through Dick Dale’s 1962 American surf rock version, whose title used the alternate spelling Miserlou. This version later gained renewed popularity when director Quentin Tarantino used it in his 1994 film Pulp Fiction, and again in 2006 when it was sampled by the Black Eyed Peas’ for their song Pump It.
Students will gain experience with dynamic shading, ornaments, and staccato.
Key: C Major
Mood: Passionate, exotic, intriguing
Pedagogy: ornaments, dynamics, staccato, unconventional scales