Oum Kalthoum, Om Kolthom, Om Kalsoum, Omm Kalsoum, Omme Kolsoum, Oom Koolsum, Oum Kalthoum, Oum Kalthum, Oum Kalsoum, Oum Kaltsoum, Oum Kolthoum, Oum Koulsoum, Oum Kulthum, Oum Kulthume, Um Kalthoum,

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I know I have mentioned her name all over the place here, but so far, there has been no thread dedicated to her. Recently I went through a brief spell during which I wasn't enjoying her nearly as much as I had been for a while, but that seems to have passed.

I had been curious about her for a while. Who was this Egyptian singer whose first name was "Om" and why were there so many of her tpaes and CDs in the Tower Records in Philadelphia (something which has, I think, changed since)? Eventually I randomly bought one of her CDs. The first recordings of hers that I heard, a few years before becoming very interested in Arabic music through more recent recordings in a much different style, were from late in her career: "Amal Hayati" and "Arouh Limeen," neither of which appealed to me. (They still are not favorites, though I prefer "Arouh Limeen" to "Amal Hayati.") The accompanying orchestra sounded a little too corny, as if it were a westerner's idea of what Arabic music should sound like. The not-at-all-rocking electric guitar in "Amal Hayati" did not help matters. Incidentally, that piece apparently contains an imitation of American "hoedown" music, something I didn't recognize as such until having it pointed out to me.

When I started going to an Arab grocery store to buy music cassettes, the owner sold me or loaned me--I forget which--an Oum Kalthoum cassette, along with the New Sound tapes I mostly was buying. (That was the basis of an inadvertant comedy routine between the owner and me. "So what do they call this music in Egypt?" "New Sound." "But what's the Arabic name?" "They call it New Sound." "There's not Arabic name?" "Well, sometimes they call it jeel, but, really, they call it New Sound." I was unable to grasp that they were using an English designation for this new form of spunky, but rather too formulaic, dance music. I would have been much happier calling it jeel or something exotic sounding like that.) It was another recording from late in her career. It might have been "Hazihi Leylati" or "Alf Lyla." I can't remember any longer. I listened to it, and I thought, "What is this?" Again, there was a strange mixture of strings and some modern instruments. Oum Kalthoum's voice did not sound particularly pretty or appealing. (Warda's was much easier for me to get into.) The audience periodically laughed or broke into frantic applause for reasons I could not comprehend. I was not sold.

However, I developed a taste for some other Arabic music: George Wassouf (whose versions of Oum Kalthoum songs were often my first exposure to those songs), Warda, Mohammed Abdo, Milhem Baraket, and other things here and there. My sense of this chronology is pretty blurred, mind you. At some point, I ended up listening to some Oum Kalthoum songs that made an impression on me. I got to like some of the later, sometimes wildly eclectic, pieces, but not primarily for Oum Kalthoum's singing. (I still often don't really enjoy her singing on the later (60's/early 70's) recordings.) One of the first recordings I remember really impressing me, for the quality of her singiing, was "Ya Zalamny." There is a point when she slows down and really stretches out the line she is singing in a way that reminded me of Qur'anic recitation (which I had already heard a bit of by this point). And she was doing something. I don't know what she is doing, but she's doing something, maybe switching from one maqam to another. She's bending the line she's singing and it's doing something to me. I don't often consider her voice really beautiful, as such, but in this recording it is. Rarely does she sound as vulnerable as she does in the opening lines of "Ya Zalamny."

As I started listening more carefully to her singing, and listening to recordings beore 1960, I began to pay attention to the variations in the way she would deliver the same line, one of the places where much of her art occurs. I started getting into the way she would hold one syllable for a while (often an "m") and then suddenly toss out the remainder of the phrase. And I found her singing to be moving, and not just a technical excercise.

There are some limitations to these recordings. The strings are still sometimes a stumbling block for me--not Ahmed al-Hifnawi's often brilliant soloing, but the overall sound of the string section. As her career progressed, the formula for the way the string parts were written seemed to become more rigid (though this is not to say I don't enjoy any of the string parts at this point, at lest for specific sections). This is my impression anyway. In some of the earlier recordings there is more evident interplay among the instrumentalists. Sometimes I am not in the mood to focus so much on this one singer, or the dramatic persona she is musically conjuring. There is always an ego at the center of this music, not necessarily Oum Kalthoum's ego, but an imaginary one expressing a moment or telling a story. This isn't necessarily music you put on just to create an atmosphere. Perhaps it was that way for me when I started getting into it, but now I kind of feel that I have to follow the unfolding drama of her singing. You are kind of stuck with this person or persona the entire time.

However, she covers a lot of ground. Although I don't like all the decisions her composers made, they were clearly brilliant, taken overall. Riad el Sounbatti and Zakariya Ahmed created incredible vehicles to bring out her creative powers as a singer. I'm less convinced that Abdel Wahab did this as well, but there are some unforgetable all-instrumenal passages in some of his compositions for her. There are distinctive phases to compositional style from the 1920's through to the 1970's, so there is a fair amount of variety across her career. It has taken me a whle to acquire a taste for this music and to learn to feel it, but given some patience, it can be quite rewarding.

DeRayMi, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

You knew it had to come sooner or later.

DeRayMi, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

dude I don't think you ever said it was a chick before

Josh, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

When someone says the word "Gippid" to me, I think of rivers . . .

Lynskey, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Why didn't I edit this thing? Now it's going to be archived on the internet until the day I die, "tpaes" and all.

DeRayMi, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I forgot to mention that, not surprisingly, her voice changed quite a bit over her career. The pre-1960 recordings tend to be impressive not only for what she does with her voice, but for the voice itself. I'm not sure I would call her voice in "Salo Ko'os" from 1939 (if I remember correctly) "beautiful," but it is amazing, so powerful and so controlled, with such a distinctive tone. Very forceful and physical.

Okay, I'll go to bed now and leave this alone.

DeRayMi, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

From what I have been told...the frantic applause you hear at odd moments on many live Om Kalsoum recordings is occurring after a particular phrase (usually of a sweet, romantic nature) has resonated with the audience. She may then repeat the phrase in slightly different moods for the audience's deeper appreciation and pleasure.

BUT...please don't forget about Asmahan, another great singer who died early in life. Om Kalsoum's only true competition.

Asmahan's brother is also a very good.


, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

(haha once we did a feature at S&S on this egyptian director - chaline? no coffee yet so memory not switched in - and we were fact checking the titles of his films and the names of actors metntioned and stuff and the bfi database was going crazy cz in egypt orthography is just NOT AN ISSUE)

mark s, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I have my Asmahan and Farid CDs, don't worry. Sometimes I now "know" why the audience is applauding, even without knowing what is being sung by Oum Kalthoum. I'm sure sometimes it relates to how she is singing a certain phrase, but sometimes how she is singing is enough. On, say, the live recording of "Ana fe Entezarak," there are several key points that blow my mind, and there is usually some sort of response from the audience, often a cry of "Allah!"

mark s, I've seen some unbelievable versions of some of these titles, including one for "Robaiyat el Khayam" which was something like "Robaaaiyaaet" etc. with all these a's in a row.

DeRayMi, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Incidentally, the spelling that is apparently used most often by academics is: Umm Kulthum, but I think some of the other ones look nicer. But anyway, Virginia Louise Danielson uses "Umm Kulthum" and she's pretty much the academic Oum Kalthoum expert in the English speaking world. Her book on the subject is quite good.

DeRayMi, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Hehehe DeRayMi it's ostensibly my job to market that book, so I'm glad to see you're taking care of it for me.

Umm when I was updating information for a reprint of it she told me she'd heard Rounder was about to release some lavish retrospective. I called Rounder to confirm -- they have great zydeco hold music on their phone system -- but they said they had no idea what I was talking about.

nabisco, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Hehehe DeRayMi it's ostensibly my job to market that book, so I'm glad to see you're taking care of it for me.

Actually I even bought a copy of her dissertation before the book came out (the only dissertation I've ever purchased). My appreciation for the book has increased as I've continued to listen to Oum Kalthoum. It might be of some general interest as a slice of 20th century Egyptian social history, though it's probably going to mainly be of interest to those interested in Arabic music.

The Rounder rumor is intriguing. I imagine I would already have a lot of what such a collection would cover though. I think it would be difficult to make a compilation of her works, since she usually stretched songs out to around an hour or so.

DeRayMi, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Isn't "Umm" a title of sorts and not her given name?

Paul Eater, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I'm pretty sure it's her actual name, though I think it is sometimes used as a title. I just found something online that states that it means "other of" and that it is sometimes used when someone has a child, but Oum Kalthoum was called Oum Kalthoum as a child (and I don't think she had any children), so I believe it also functions simply as a name.

DeRayMi, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Since someone was mentioning, on another thread, that they were going to look here to check out recommended Oum Kalthoum titles, I am going to indulge myself and add some explicit recommendations to this thread.

My favorite general choice for an introduction to her work is Robaiyat el Khayam. I consider it a comparatively accessible recording, but one which still gives some indication of why she was great (and a recording, incidentally, which I find I can listen to in just about any mood). Ya Zalamny, mentioned above, has a very immediate emotional impact (at least to me) which I think also makes it a good entree into this artist's work.

Because of the (somewhat unusual) degree of improvisatory interaction between ensemble members and Oum Kalthoum in Ana Fe Entezarak I consider it a particularly good introduction for listeners coming from a jazz orientation. I find the beginning somewhat slow-going but it builds into something quite remarkable. Other early works that I particuarly like include: Habibi Yessaied, Salo Koos, and Ya Toul Azzabi.

I don't find her singing in the recordings from the 60's quite as impressive, but there is still some good music here. Inta Omry is quite popular, though not really a personal favorite. (If you buy it, try to buy the studio version.) The 60's introduced into her orchestra some odd combinations of electric guitar and electric organ, often with what sounds to my ears to be a psychedelic tinge. (Hearing Arabic played on electric organ tends to be inherently psychedelic, however.) There are some passages, which are pretty mind-bogglingly wonderful. At other times the material sounds overly dated, or too campy. Some good examples would be Mein Agle Aynaika, Layalt Hob and Hazihi Leylaty (which is probably the best of those three, with some pretty fine singing--but make sure you have the live version). Fakarouni is also pretty good, though I'm not sure if it's the sort of thing that would attract a first time listener to Oum Kalthoum.

There's quite a bit more that I have which is worthwhile, and then there are a lot of recordings I haven't yet gotten.

DeRayMi, Sunday, 25 August 2002 00:47 (eighteen years ago) link

thank you so very much!

boxcubed (boxcubed), Sunday, 25 August 2002 00:51 (eighteen years ago) link

Julio, I am reviving this to encourage you to comment on the tape I sent you, even if you don't like it. (I'm quite capable of dismissing criticism with "You're not really listening, then.") Is it about what you expected?

DeRayMi, Sunday, 1 September 2002 15:13 (eighteen years ago) link

Heard it today (was very busy and hardly did any listening then sat I had to do a few things so yr cassette got left on the pile) and I can see what's good about it. I do like the rawness in her voice but my ears are completely untrained here (so I'm kind of guessing abt the raw bit but it sounds it). The music backup is simplistic to allow her to continuosly sing/vocalise and i think in that respect she does have something in common with diamanda galas in her 'plague mass (live)' CD.

I really enjoyed it and now i'm off in another direction. I hope to get hold of more recordings in the coming months (yr list above will be a guide) though I will prob spend more time with this cassete for now (I just want to spend sometime at home just listening to records).

Thanks for the cassete. that was very very kind of you.

I'm gonna burn a cecil taylor disc for you. How abt 'Silent tongues' (a solo set from 1974)? If you got it already let me know because I've got more.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Sunday, 1 September 2002 17:19 (eighteen years ago) link

Julio, I've got no CT, so anything be him is fine. Glad you seem to have liked the cassette. I think I know what you mean by "rawness" but somehow I don't think that's a word that an Arab listener would use to describe her voice. At any rate, there's definitely a lot of control there, which you can hear particularly the way she ends a given line she is singing.

DeRayMi, Sunday, 1 September 2002 17:58 (eighteen years ago) link

three months pass...
Wow, I'm impressed. You guys are really dedicated to Arabic music, huh? Do you even speak Arabic? I'm a huge fan of Oum Kolthoum. I'm actually trying to collect all her songs as mp3's and CD's. So far, I've been doing ok. I've been collecting other artists too, like Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Farid el-Atrache (Asmahan's brother), Abdel Halim Hafiz and others. If you guys need any recommendations or question, feel free to ask. Good luck.

Shady Amin, Thursday, 26 December 2002 08:45 (eighteen years ago) link

I just bought Nouar by Cheikha Remitti

My two cents

Jan Geerinck, Thursday, 26 December 2002 08:53 (eighteen years ago) link

Shady, unfortunately, I don't speak Arabic music. (I started this thread, actually, even if the original name looked a little different.) I know that a lot of Arabs (I'm assuming you are, based on the name you're using, but of course it could be a screen name) find it strange that people who don't speak the language would enjoy this music, since everything tends to be built around creating a setting for the lyrics, but there's still a lot of enjoyment to be gotten out of it without knowing the words.

Actually, I'd be interested in recommendations on the best Abdel Wahab recordings. I hadn't heard much performed by him that I liked, but this past summer I picked up the CD with "Toul Oumri" "Igry Igry" etc. and found that I enjoyed it.

This board (as you can see) isn't particularly focused on Arabic music, but we can still discuss it.

I think I need to get a high-speed connection before I get back into collectng MP3s.

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 12:39 (eighteen years ago) link

Nabisco, do you work at the U of C press?

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 16:51 (eighteen years ago) link

I purchased several Khaltoum CDs at a local Palestinian grocery. There is no information (in English) on the CD as regards recording dates, but from the sound quality I'm guessing 1950s. I enjoy it very much but haven't yet had the time for focused listening. I've long been enamored of Fairuz, even the Euro-kitsch arrangements that so often accompany her voice. Every now and then I ask the family who work at the grocery what the meanings of the songs are.

I have a question. What looks to be a fairly respectable series of Khaltoum CDs called "Diva of Arabic Music" turns up on the Web a lot (although I've never seen them in local shops). Do you know anything about these--do they contain music from throughout her career, etc? Also, have you heard any of her work from the 1920s'? The All Music Guide lists two compilations on the label Artistes Arabes. Do you know if and where these might be available?

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:00 (eighteen years ago) link

(Amateurist: yes.)

nabisco (nabisco), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:09 (eighteen years ago) link

Amateurist, the Diva series is all early recordings (pre-30s, from what I recall). It's not remotely a career overview. The "Artistes Arabes" series (of which there are more than two) covers more or less the same material. I have one of those CDs. In my opinion, the sound qality on the Diva series is much better. These are remastered recordings from EMI Arabia. I have the complete Diva series, but I honestly don't care for the material from this early in her career, with rare exceptions. Plenty of informed listeners consider this to be great work, however. I prefer her work from the late 30's through maybe the 50's and maybe the early 60's.

What city do you live in, incidentally?

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:11 (eighteen years ago) link

(Rockit Scientist: Chicago.)

(Nabisco: I may have met you. But -- how do we break the veil of anonymity without revealing our identities to all and sundry?)

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:16 (eighteen years ago) link

Give the secret hand signal.

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:36 (eighteen years ago) link

____( \ .-' `-. / )____
(____ \_____ / (O O) \ _____/ ____)
(____ `-----( ) )-----' ____)
(____ _____________\ .____. /_____________ ____)
(______/ `-.____.-' \______)

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:39 (eighteen years ago) link

Oh dear. However it was that I may have met you, I apologize: I swear I am usually more interesting / better smelling / less obnoxious / better looking / etc.

I dunno, was it at a Microphones show? I'm not super-keen on the veil of anonymity thing, my name's Nitsuh.

nabisco (nabisco), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:39 (eighteen years ago) link

Oh dear, that ASCII graphic looks all mangled, like something from a David Cronenberg movie. Sorry.

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:45 (eighteen years ago) link

I will wait patiently for the Oum Kalthoum ASCII image.

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:47 (eighteen years ago) link

Oh here's how we do it: you can email me at my username at hot(mail).

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:52 (eighteen years ago) link

I wanted to add that I don't think the EMI Diva series includes everything that is included on the Club du Disques Arabe (sp?) series.

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 18:53 (eighteen years ago) link

Were here records from the 1920s packaged as albums of 78s? I ask because I believe a 78 fits four minutes of music and of course most of Kalthoum's more recent recordings are far longer than that. Really I should be asking Pat Conte this question.

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 19:41 (eighteen years ago) link

I don't know for sure off hand, but I think the early recordings were 78s. In fact, I think the liner notes include pictures of these old 78s.

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 19:56 (eighteen years ago) link

If she put out records in the '20s, they would have to have been 78s unless there was a strong market for cylinders in the Arab world. I was wondering if she recorded shorter songs or if a given song or two were spread out across an album of 78s as much classical music was presented in those days. (This is an interesting question because in the US albums were largely marketed to middle-class consumers while declasse genres like blues and gospel were released on individual 78s. I don't know if a similar practice would have been in effect in Egypt say, which I'm guessing was within the reach of HMV/EMI in those days.)

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 20:02 (eighteen years ago) link

When I am home I can check the track lengths, which would at least partially answer the question. (The answer is probably in the Danielson book, too, but I haven't retained it all.)

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 20:14 (eighteen years ago) link

Are all those variations on Om's name actually on the books, or are some of them your inventions?

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 20:44 (eighteen years ago) link

I believe they are all "on the books" so to speak. I think I got that list from a web-site somewhere. I have seen a lot of them. (I may have thrown in one of my own inventions, I don't remember.)

A good web-site for online distribution of Arabic music is www.maqam.com. A little more thorough than amazon.com.

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 20:59 (eighteen years ago) link

Holy moly.

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 21:08 (eighteen years ago) link

She's approaching Lata Mangeshkar status there.

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 21:14 (eighteen years ago) link

Yeah, that might be the way to go, but I already have about half of them separately, so I'm not going to do it. It's not everything she recorded anyway, just "the most popular." There have to be other good things not currently in print.

(I think Lata Mangeshkar is still numerically ahead.)

rs, Thursday, 26 December 2002 21:14 (eighteen years ago) link

Did Om record for films as well? I remember seeing a short at a Palestinian film festival where a family sits around the television watching Om in some older (40s? 50s?) movie.

I should just get the book, shouldn't I.

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 22:40 (eighteen years ago) link

Just a note to say a young man told me today that in Syria, the radio stations reserve an hour every morning for Fairuz, and an hour every evening for Oum Kalthoum. Also, I bought an Adbel Halim Hafez CD. Anyone familiar with him?

Amateurist (amateurist), Wednesday, 8 January 2003 03:32 (eighteen years ago) link

Amateurist, yes, I'm fairly familiar with Abdel Halim Hafez. (Isn't he mentioned soemwhere on this thread previously? Maybe not.) I mostly know what I think are probably his later recordings, long, sprawling, prog-like, works, many of them by Baligh Hamdi and Abdel Wahab. What did you buy? I am not a huge fan of his singing, but some of the instrumental introductions are crazy. I think my favorite is "Resalat Min Teht el May," which has some very nice violin playing by Ahmed al-Hifnawi (who was also Oum Kalthoum's main violinist). Abdel Halim's voice is overdubbed near the end of the recording, but pretty effectively. I also like "Fatet Ganbena," although the first time I heard it I thought it was just horrendous. It is a bit corny in a way, but then as you listen to it, well, as I listened to it, I heard a lot that I liked. Lots of clever transitions from passage to passage. Brilliant flashes of electric organ playing. "Qariat el Fengan" is worth hearing for the very bizarre instrumentation (which includes steel guitar and a synthesizer playing very "modern" avant-garde sound squiggles, but both of these are only there briefly). "Hawal Teftakerni" has a great intro., with a crazy audience, in the live recording. "Mawood" is also not bad. "Gana el Hawa" is a nice song (and shorter than the ones mentioned above), though the chorus on the original (Abdel Halim) version bothers me a little.

Not particularly recommended: Habibati Man Takoun, Ya Malik an [Malikan?] Kalbi, Maddah el Amar.

A lot of people can't stand him and consider him a creation of Mohammed Abdel Wahab meant to compete with Farid el Atrache when Abdel Wahab could no longer sing; but Oum Kalthoum said good things about Abdel Halim Hafez, so it's hard to believe he wasn't a good singer. However, I personally don't think he's on the same level as Oum Kalthoum, Asmahan, Abdel Wahab, Farid, and Fairouz.

I think Oum Kalthoum acted and sang in about five films. (Yes, get the book: it's pretty good.) She was generally not considered as effective as a film star as she was as a live concert performer. Asmahan was much more comfortable as an actor, and she also had the glamorous looks for it. (On the other hand, she was pretty terrified of live performances. It would have been very interesting to see how the competition between these two would have unfolded had Asmahan not died at 24.) If you're interested in Asmahan, btw, the recently released EMI Arabia BBC recordings of Asmahan are a good (though the sound quality is spotty). Farid el Atrache had a long career starring in movies, and I'm pretty sure that Abdel Halim also appeared in films. I think they pretty much all did, to one degree or another. Plus there were some less known, but still pretty prominent, singers who also had combined singing/acting careers.

I'm glad to see this thread was recovered. I was a little worried.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 8 January 2003 04:12 (eighteen years ago) link

An article on pop music in the Islamic world, sort of.

Amateurist (amateurist), Friday, 10 January 2003 18:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Rockist Scientist, I know I'm replying ages after your message was posted, but sorry about that. I'll recommend some Wahab songs, though I imagine you already experienced many of his music. I would recommend his masterpieces: Cleopatra, Demashque (Damascus), Bafakkar Fi elli naseeni, Ana Haweyt, al-Hawa wa ash-Shabab, ana wel 'azab we hawak, emta ez-zaman, Insa ed-Donya, Gabal at-Tawobad, Majnoon Layla, Gafnuhu 'allamal ghazal, Khayef A'ool, 'Endama Ya'ti al-masa', Kan agmal youm, kol da kan leh, Modhnaka Gafahu. I hope this is hopeful.

Shady Amin, Tuesday, 14 January 2003 23:32 (eighteen years ago) link

Thanks Shady, actually of all the major singers mentioned on this thread, Abdel Wahab is the one I am least familiar with, so while I've heard of some of the titles you recommend, I don't actually know the music yet. (I am familiar with much of his material for Oum Kalthoum, Abdel Wahab, Fairouz, Naget, and Warda. (I think he wrote at least something for Warda?)

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 15 January 2003 00:56 (eighteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
That store where I was buying Arabic CDs this summer now has them at $10 a pop. I think I am going to go back and pick up most of the remaining Abdel Wahab and Farid CDs I didn't get before, and maybe Abdel Halim's Mawood. Also thinking maybe I should buy Fairouz and Oum Kalthoum CDs to donate to the library.

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 30 January 2003 16:53 (seventeen years ago) link

Can you recommend Abdel Wahab's Cleopatra? I've seen it at Tower for about $9.

Amateurist (amateurist), Friday, 31 January 2003 00:20 (seventeen years ago) link

Amateurist, Shady, above, recommended it. I'm not that familiar with Abdel Wahab and am a little leery, since I've picked up a couple CDs that I thought were duds (one tonight). However, I've also heard some really beautiful recordings by him.

Tonight I picked up:

Mohammed Abdel Wahab: Daret al Ayam [I don't like his singing here, and I'm not that big a fan of his oud playing anyway, though the title song has some great moments, compositionally speaking; but you're better off with the Oum Kalthoum recording, I think. Actually, even that isn't among her best, but parts of this song are quite memorable.]

Farid el Atrache: Hikayet Gharami

Asmahan & Farid [two different CDs, one blue, one pink]

I'm really happy I didn't miss out on the chance to pick up the Asmahan & Farid CDs. The sound quality is surprisingly better than it is on the Club du Disques Arabe "Les Archives de la Musique Arabe" Asmahan CDs (for the songs that overlap). In particular, her singing is much clearer here. Mind you, this is not fantastic sound, just relatively better. These disques [unintended typo! how did I do that?] contain the songs that Farid wrote for his sister. I wonder what sort of originals Club du Disques Arabe was working from.

The store where I bought these also had some Latin CDs on sale for cheap. I picked up a Victor Manuelle compilation for &6.99. I think it was probably worth it.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 31 January 2003 00:50 (seventeen years ago) link

Where do you live?

Amateurist (amateurist), Friday, 31 January 2003 01:08 (seventeen years ago) link

Philadelphia, PA. I bought these at one of the many Israeli (or possibly Israeli-American) owned record/stereo equipment stores in center city.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 31 January 2003 01:14 (seventeen years ago) link

I never got back to you re: the 1920's recordings and their times.

From Vol. II of the "Anthologie de la Musique Arabe" Oum Kalthoum CD series: Kam Baatna (1926) 7'25; Dzikra Saad (1926) 4'30; Ya Assiya Elhagr (1927) 6'48; Ala Anni El Hagr (1927) 6'00, etc.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 31 January 2003 01:37 (seventeen years ago) link

one month passes...
Here is an active site* where Listen to Om Kolsoom mp3s.

*Unlike about a dozen great Arabic music audio sites I had bookmarked long ago, which have either disappeared, no longer work, or now charge money.

A Music Consumer, Tuesday, 4 March 2003 02:18 (seventeen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
yesterday i picked up an LP copy (french pressing) of Fakkarouni (it says it's from '71). i don't own much arabic music, so i'm trying to digest it now as it's a completely new genre for me. the strings are pretty neat. snakey and squirmy. and at times it seems like either the strings or her vocals might be improvised, but they're not because they're exactly in sync at many moments. each of the two songs takes up a side of the record, so they're pretty long.

my favorite part of the album comes in the intro to the first song where there's an electric guitar playing the lead melody. it's got a clean tone, and almost reminds me of either surf music (yes i know dick dale was heavily influenced from his lebanese upbringing) or some of the guitar leads in a Morricone western. i guess i like this now because it's the most western, recognizable element of the music. something i can grasp onto. it's also neat because, the guitar being fretted, you can't get many of the semitones you would be able to get from a violin or oud.

btw. Rockist: you're A Music Consumer and DeRayMi? i always thought there were two big salsa lovers on the board, and now i find it's just you?

JasonD (JasonD), Monday, 31 March 2003 19:42 (seventeen years ago) link

the strings are pretty neat. snakey and squirmy. and at times it seems like either the strings or her vocals might be improvised, but they're not because they're exactly in sync at many moments.

The music (by Mohammed Abdel Wahab) and lyrics are both pre-composed, but there is room for melodic, and other types of improvisation, by Oum Kaltoum. Also, Oum Kalthoum frequently would repeat verses or longer passages in response to audience requests to hear them again (or simply in response to her sense of the crowd's mood); and part of the challenge would be to sing the same thing again, but change it in effective ways. I don't think that her orchestra would have had much difficulty staying in sync with her improvisation, since (a) they seem to have had certain conventional little sound squiggles they could fall back on and (b) they worked with her so extensively, and would have included musicians who had been with her for decades, probably.

Keep in mind that this is late in her career, and her voice is not as flexible or powerful as it was when she was younger.

Some other recordings that include electric guitar: Alf Leyla, We Marret el Aym (sometimes: Daret el Ayam, etc. etc.), Inta Omri.

("A Music Consumer" was an abortive name change, and yes DeRayMi is an earlier screen name, changed in a futile effort to stop putting out so much information that could identify who I am in real life.)

Rockist Scientist, Monday, 31 March 2003 21:28 (seventeen years ago) link

RS – Simon Shaheen has been performing music by Mohamed Abdel Wahab & Oum Kulthoum. Did you get to see any of those shows?
I think he’s releasing an album of that late this year and mounting a larger tour for it than the few shows he did at end of last year/beginning of this year.

H (Heruy), Tuesday, 1 April 2003 08:03 (seventeen years ago) link

H, Thanks, I haven't heard about that. Maybe I shouldn't say this but I find Simon Shaheen's approach to things a bit dry. Maybe he tries too hard to treat this music seriously (kind of like Munir Bachir, though maybe as not as extreme), to the point where some of the juice is lost. I haven't checked him out for a while, though, so I might be tempted to give this a try. I do appreciate the work his has done to promote Arabic music, including his organization of the Maharajan (sp?) festival in Brooklyn (though either that has stopped, or no one is making an effort to keep the mailing list up-to-date); but his own music has mostly left me cold. I kind of liked a CD he did with Ali Jihad Racy (who I also generally find to be "too dry" as a musician).

Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 1 April 2003 12:43 (seventeen years ago) link

Actually, now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure Simon Shaheen did an album of Abdel Wahab songs a while ago, and I wasn't too taken with it.

If anyone wonders who I consider to be not-dry oudists, I give my usual examples: Riad el-Sounbatti (whose CD of taksim is once again unavailable, so I've missed out for now), Mohammed el-Qassabji (though I haven't heard much of his solo playing at all), and Farid el Atrache (despite his over-reliance on the same formula for most solos).

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 2 April 2003 01:40 (seventeen years ago) link

how do you rate Hamza El Din? pretty beautiful stuff, i think.

JasonD (JasonD), Wednesday, 2 April 2003 01:46 (seventeen years ago) link

I'm more hesitant about saying anything bad about Hamza el Din, but he's not really a favorite. I tend to prefer Egyptian oud playing and take that as my model. (I see from a quick check of liner notes that Hamza el Din studied in Cairo, but I still think he took the sound in a different direction.) I don't really like Sudanese music that much, either, from what I've heard of it.

I'm more willing to criticize someone like Simon Shaheen (or Marcel Khalife's oud experiments) because I think I have a handle on the tradition they are operating out of; but in the case of Hamza el Din, I don't think I have enough of a feel for Sudanese music, or for the distinctive Nubian ethnic tradition.

I'd be interested in hearing more though. The only CD I have by him is Music of Nubia. What have you heard and what would you recommend?

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 2 April 2003 02:01 (seventeen years ago) link

Actually a thread on oudists would be a good idea.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 2 April 2003 02:02 (seventeen years ago) link

What I was sort of trying to say above re: Shaheen is that the music of Abdel Wahab and Oum Kalthoum was extremely popular music. The audience was very involved, audibly so. It was rooted in Arab classical tradition, but it's energy was not rarified or conservatory-oriented. Clearly, Shaheen is fighting an uphill battle to preserve tradition (while not ruling out innovation) and to do so in the U.S., where this type of music hardly has a broad popular base. But I miss the "vibe" that is present in the older recordings of the popular masters.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 2 April 2003 02:33 (seventeen years ago) link

to see this thread brought up again and again is just great; haven't contributed to it myself (haven't heard that much of OK's recordings, only compilations at a library a while ago),
but now a related question occured to me --
Mahmoud Fadl feat.Salwa Abou Greisha:Umm Kalthum 7000, what about this record? anyone here familiar with it? what is actually on it?

t\'\'t (t\'\'t), Wednesday, 2 April 2003 07:43 (seventeen years ago) link

re: Hamza el Din. i don't know much about this stuff, so i don't have many comparisons. i was in a record store and they played what i think was Music of Nubia and i thought it was beautiful. i ended up picking up Eclipse (which i'm listening to now) because it was cheap used on cd rather than expensive on LP at that store.

what i like about it is it's sparseness and feelings of melancholy and introspection. for most of the disc it's just him on oud and voice with the occasional percussion or clapping. everything is real slow and dark (just like i like my salsa, heh).

when i bought this cd, i was really feeling Sandy Bull and Peter Walker (a little less so). since then i've gotten more into Fahey and Robbie Basho. but this music really reminds me of these players. a man and his guitar. it's very intimate.

what i like the least about this is that it was recorded and produced by Micky Hart. i guess this isn't really a bad thing in itself, but it almost sticks a tag of "New-Age-World-Music" on it.

my tastes might be a lot different than yours RS. not that i don't think what you think is good is good, but that i really, really enjoy non-western musics, but from a western perspective. i really like stuff that is a foreign interpretation of western music. Brazilian tropicalia, Afro funk, Ethiopiques, Italian psych, French rock, Krautrock. I'm starting to get into Salsa because it reminds me of funky-jazz.
(ugh, i reread this and feel like a total bandwagon scenester dork)

JasonD (JasonD), Wednesday, 2 April 2003 08:17 (seventeen years ago) link

RS - I understand you re Shaheen's 'dryness', but his more recent stuff does seem much looser. His last album 'Blue Flame' has some missteps, but generally his mix of jazz, arabic, flamenco works well and seems much more relaxed than on some of his older work.

and yeah, Shaheen does have an old Wahab album but this is a new project.

re Hamza el din - try Waterwheel his first album just rereleased by Nonesuch, his last album "the wish" is also pretty good

so why do you not care for Sudanese music? or perhaps, who have you heard as that might be part of it.

H (Heruy), Wednesday, 2 April 2003 13:10 (seventeen years ago) link

t\'\'t, I haven't heard that Mahmoud Fadl album (and I've never heard any CDs by him), though I am curious about it. I think some of the songs it chooses to cover are quite coverable, in the sense that they stand alone as compositions, depending more on the control of the composer than on Oum Kalthoum's improvisatory digressions. I personally think the strength of "Daret el Ayam" has more to do with the instrumental passages than with the sections that are sung. "Baid Anak" is also a good song to cover, even though Oum Kalthoum's live recording does contain some very strong improvisation and interaction with her audience. At a glance, almost all these songs look like they are from late in her career, incidentally, so it is a limited introduction (even as a set of cover versions), but it makes sense to choose songs from this time to cover. There are some reasonably lengthy audio samples here (I hope they don't actually cut out the best part of "Daret el Ayam"! This sample starts after the introductory passages I love the most.) I think I like this singer. (Some of the samples from Fadl's other albums sound good too.)

H, I haven't heard very much Sudanese music, and at this point I no longer remember who it is that I have heard. I am afraid I can't really describe what I don't like about it, but I think it might be that it sounds as if it's going to do what the Egyptian/Syrian/Lebanese/Gulf music I especially like does, but then instead it goes and does something else, leaving me disappointed.

I don't like jazz all that much, so Shaheen + Jazz isn't really a draw for me. In fact, in general, I don't like to hear Arabic music mixed with jazz (not that there's anything inherently wrong with it).

JasonD, Since so much salsa has been recorded in New York, I think it's fair to say that salsa is an American form of music (and Puerto Rico is, of course, kind of/sort of part of the U.S.). No need to defend your taste. I sometimes laugh at the "expert" persona I am wearing on this thread. You might like Abdel Wahab in particular, among Oum Kalthoum's composers, since he tended to make the most blatant use of various western styles. There are a lot of great electric keyboard sounds in this music from the 60's and 70's, but unfortunately, they often only appear in the introduction and maybe occasionally later on as a little added timbrel (sp?) variety.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 2 April 2003 14:11 (seventeen years ago) link

thanx, Rockist Scientist
as per that M. Fadl rekkid, i've tried to order it (tho 'm not sure whether i'll ever actually get it (long story))

t\'\'t (t\'\'t), Wednesday, 2 April 2003 21:34 (seventeen years ago) link

RS - I was mulling over what you said upthread re Sudanese music that perhaps the reason you didn't like it was that

>it sounds as if it's going to do what the Egyptian/Syrian/Lebanese/Gulf music I especially like does, but then instead it goes and does something else, leaving me disappointed.

This struck me as its so different from how I listen to music -enjoying similarities between e.g. Ethiopian & Indian, but also enjoying how they then go off in such completely different directions. I'm trying to think of what might cause that equivalent diappointment for me (only exxample i can think of is thinking "Under Pressure" is coming on the radio when it is "Ice Ice Baby" but that doesn't really work)

What in particular about this style grabs you to create that loyalty? We talked about rai on another thread but do you listen to music from Turkey? Armenia? I'm curious.

(was inspired to look up the Fadl album and was reminded on the website about the fact that 3 million (!) ppl attended Oum's funeral.)

H (Heruy), Friday, 4 April 2003 08:24 (seventeen years ago) link

H, I would like to try answer your question, but I want to think about it first; maybe try listening to various examples of the music we're discussing, and then jotting down some notes. I'm not sure I can really explain what it is that I like though, let alone why.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 4 April 2003 12:19 (seventeen years ago) link

Some of the things I like about the Arabic music I like:

The Vocals: Somehow the vocals in Turkish and Persian music that I've heard often feel either too restrained or too harsh, but Arabic vocals, at their best (a sneaky qualification), seem to me to strike an ideal balance. I like the sense that the vocalist is deliberately reeling out the singing.

The Instruments: I don't think there's a single traditional Arab instrument that I find bothersome. The oud, the kanun, the ney, and all the percussion typically used, sound "just right" to me. (The biggest problem for me in most of the Arabic music I like is the imported western string section, even if it is used differently.) Some Persian instruments are jangly in a way that I dislike (and I think some of these are used as well in Turkish music). Even one type of drum used in Persian music has this sort of rolling quality that I don't like (the percussive equivalent of the string instrument jangliness I hear elsewhere).

Improvisation: This applies especially to Oum Kalthoum, I suppose (and definitely not to Fairouz), but I enjoy the improvisatory element in Arabic singing. Maybe I have simply not listened to the right examples of related musics with an improvisatory aspect.

Rhythms: I'm not sure I have any problem with Persian and Turkish rhythms, but, I am very sure that I like Arabic rhythms, and I'll be damned if I can explain why, but I feel as though I am being re-organized by them, in a beneficial way. The rhythms in Oum Kalthoum's songs aren't usually the main draw for me (though I've gotten to like them over time, after taking a while to even notice that something was going on with the percussion), but I like belly dance rhythms; the fantastic rhythms in folkloric and some pop Syrian and Lebanese music; and much of the rhythm in Iraqi and Saudi music. Okay, one thing I can think of is that there's a certain way the rhythms seem to fall back on themselves, and then recollect themselves and keep moving. Also, they often contain a very long cycle of beats.

Melodies, modes, and structure in general: This is harder for me to talk about. I don't really have a way to describe these differences. The modes are pretty much exactly the same (from one middle eastern tradition to another), taken as a series of tones, but there must be some sort of difference in some of the other conventions surrounding how the modes are used. I don't know.

I think a lot of it is just that of all the modal, microtonal musics I've been exposed to, Arabic music is the one I've had the most exposure to, so it's become my "home base" in a way (at least for modal, microtonal music).

I'm pretty keen on some of the Greek music I've heard, but have had trouble finding anyone to guide me into more of that. Incidentally, I did start a thread about Turkish music here.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 4 April 2003 23:20 (seventeen years ago) link

The beginning rhythms of one Milhem Baraket song (sorry, no title in English) remind me of a skeleton puppet beginning to move.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 4 April 2003 23:36 (seventeen years ago) link

wow, great answer to my not very well phrased question.

Something which I think was in the back of my head earlier was your coment on not liking jazz and Arabic mixes. I think perhaps I read (projected) a little more traditionalist approach into that than was meant as I was thinking ‘bout how ubiquity of jazz in 20s & 30s led to developments in many local music scenes from adoption of different instruments to new approaches to folkloric and that it is a building block for a lot of stuff (tho you do note above you don’t like the use of western string sections)

hmm, have to think and come back to this

H (Heruy), Saturday, 5 April 2003 11:44 (seventeen years ago) link

I don't mind the introduction of new instruments as such. I like the way Arabic music uses accordion, saxophone, electric guitar, and electric keyboards. Also, the inclusion of upright bass in these orchestras is a nice touch.

Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 5 April 2003 12:23 (seventeen years ago) link

(Also regarding fusions with jazz: I just don't like jazz all that much, so it may come down to that.)

Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 5 April 2003 12:30 (seventeen years ago) link

aargh...how can you say that rockist? you like sun ra! ;-)

BTW great thread, I haven't got round to anything since the cassete but I'll try to get some more during the easter break (I haven't investigated good places to get 'world music' in london but I'll look).

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 5 April 2003 18:25 (seventeen years ago) link

Julio, I know, but if I like Sun Ra, yet hardly like any other jazz, that leaves me thinking I don't really like jazz as such. Plus he is obviously a crossover jazz artist, who attracts a lot of people who primarily listen to other genres. (I saw the smiley face but thought I would respond anyway.)

Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 5 April 2003 18:31 (seventeen years ago) link

yeah it was a nice jokey comment.

even though sun ra has done a lot with jazz, you know, that's where he starts from but I get what you're saying.

Though I still think you might get to like some jazz in the future.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 5 April 2003 18:34 (seventeen years ago) link

one month passes...
To add a little bit to my answer to H's question, one reason (though by no means the only reason) that I tend to be dissatsified with more contemporary Arabic music, compared to Oum Kalthoum's recordings, is that I really like the way her songs frequently slow down for long stretches. In general I like the way she doesn't restrict herself to metrical regularity. (Is that the right term or am I thinking of poetry?) For effect, she will pull up more slowly on a given line, and the like. I like the pauses and relatively silent moments.

Contemporary Egyptian dance music is not going to give me this. I like dance music (that is: music for dancing), but the old popular classical music is largely non-dance music for me.

Odd that people don't seem to talk that much about variation in tempo with a performance (or recording) as a value similar to variety of dynamic range. (One exception would be fans of prog.)

(Julio, once I have listened to all he Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald I want to listen to, my familiarity with the standards they sang might make me more receptive to instrumental jazz of all types. Not that that's why I want to listen to them (I want to listen to them because I like them--well, I know I like Billie Holiday, and I think I could like a lot of Ella), but it occurs to me that it could be a byproduct of doing so.)

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 15 May 2003 22:47 (seventeen years ago) link

i'm always seeing this thread pop up and meaning to read it but i never have up until now...
anyway,i think i'll download some of her stuff and see what i think
i know nothing about arabic music beyond seeing rahib-abou-khalid live,what i have read on this thread,and heard in random places without knowing anything about it,so god knows what i will think of it,but i'm curious so i may as well give it a try...
there's a track called hob eh on kazaa so i'll give it a shot,will report back later...

robin (robin), Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:21 (seventeen years ago) link

actually i'll go for el hob kolloh,since the file is about a third of the size and i have a really slow connection
is this in any way representative of her work?

robin (robin), Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:24 (seventeen years ago) link

I think that's from the 60's. It's not one of my personal favorite Oum Kalthoum recordings, but it's okay.

Oh wait, you're shifting gears. El Hob Kolloh. Let me see what that is. That's very very late and not representative. If it's the one I'm thinking of, she's sounds like she's on her last legs. It has some creepy organ sounds in it, but I can't recommend it. It's more represenative of Abdel Wahab's compositional style than of Oum Katlhoum's singing abilities.

What else is there?

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:27 (seventeen years ago) link

If you can find Ha Ablou Bokra or Qquab Qablou Boqura or anything that looks like that, it's a good short song.

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:28 (seventeen years ago) link

You can always go here to just listen.

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:30 (seventeen years ago) link

i have that page bookmarked but unfortunately i dont have real player at the moment...
i'll see if there's anything else...

robin (robin), Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:36 (seventeen years ago) link

is ya msaharny any better?
that's all there seems to be at the moment...

robin (robin), Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:37 (seventeen years ago) link

Sigh. Ya Msaharny is just okay, too, in my opinion. It's quite late in her career. Of course, a lot of the late stuff is still really popular, but these aren't necessarily the best of that lot.

Yam Saharny is a great song in its own right, I just am not crazy about her version (which is the original).

I would recommen Hob Eh more over the other two, but I realize that download time may make that impossible.

I'm listening to El Hob Kolloh now and she sounds a bit out of place in the midst of this music, though it has its moments.

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:45 (seventeen years ago) link

well i'll get hob eh for the moment so,and see what i think
i should have my computer sorted out over the next week,so i'll go to that site and listen to some of the files there as well...

robin (robin), Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:51 (seventeen years ago) link

Hob Eah is from 1960, though the recording you have might be from later. The one I have sounds later than that to me, for what that's worth. It's composed by Baligh Hamdi.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 May 2003 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

(I wish I could say I liked her singing more on this one.)

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 May 2003 00:01 (seventeen years ago) link

I scored a 5CD Oum Kalsoum box thing for 25 bucks at Tower the other week. It's great--the sound quality is ass as is the packaging but the sheer volume means I've been surrounded by her voice a lot lately and have been beginning to notice more nuance. I know very little about Arabic music but I figure listening lots is the best way to learn.

adam (adam), Friday, 16 May 2003 02:31 (seventeen years ago) link

adam, what's in that set? (Are there any titles in English?) Is it the EMI Arabia set with "Diva" in the title? I've never seen an actual box set of her work before.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 May 2003 12:27 (seventeen years ago) link

I’ve seen it but never picked it up, called Anthologie and released on Sonodisc.

Volume 1
1. Azkouriny 33:37
2. Salo kaos al fella 31:13

Volume 2
1. Hadeeth al rouh 26:23
2. Ghareb ala bab el raga 22:26

Volume 3
1. Woleda el hoda 56:54

Volume 4
1. Gadet hobak leih 39:18

Volume 5
1. Al nile 27:04
2. Nagh el borda 22:56

H (Heruy), Friday, 16 May 2003 13:24 (seventeen years ago) link

These are personal favorites:

Salo kaos al fella
Woleda el hoda
Nagh el borda

Judging by the track lengths, it looks like the box set versions of the latter two would be live recordings. I have only heard the studio recordings of these songs. They should still be good. For a long time I didn't like these two songs though. The melodies are very counterintuitive from a western point of view, and possibly even from an Arab point of view, since these were considered difficult songs at the time.

I am not sure I've heard the others, though I suspect they would be good. They seem to all be from around the 40's.

It's possible that more recent, individual, recordings of these songs would have better sound quality, but these are pretty old recordings to begin with.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 May 2003 13:43 (seventeen years ago) link

listening to hob eh now
i like what i've heard,so far
the music is really good,i can see how her voice is a bit of an acquired taste,she sounds like she could do with clearing her throat every now and again..
i'd definitely like to hear more,anyway...
i'll have to have a look for some of your recommendations...

robin (robin), Friday, 16 May 2003 14:26 (seventeen years ago) link

Her voice got deeper and deeper as she got older. It's still an acquired taste, but the version from about 10-15 years earlier is a little more appealing (to me anyway). I find the singing here a little overblown at times. She's still got incredible force at this point, but has lost some subtlety. (I have no idea what I'd think if I could understand Arabic though.) I agree that the music is good, and there are some high points in the performance as well.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 May 2003 14:33 (seventeen years ago) link

two months pass...
ilove very very very much Om Kalsoum
for me she is like a religion
ho can answear me

najib ibn khayat, Monday, 28 July 2003 20:27 (seventeen years ago) link

What is your question?

amateurist (amateurist), Monday, 28 July 2003 20:31 (seventeen years ago) link

My lovely friend bought a record by Um Kalthum in Brussels. it is very good. yes, perhaps she is the best singer of the 20th century.

[the record is WAY better than the REALLY LAME Fairuz record I bought; I am no worrying that Fairuz is actually rubbish, and the good record I have by her is an aberration]

DV (dirtyvicar), Sunday, 3 August 2003 22:39 (seventeen years ago) link

DV, happy to hear that. What Kalthum song(s) was it?

What I think about Fairuz is that she is a great singer, but doesn't have the best judgment about what material to use. Basically anything from the 80's forward is iffy. But the styles in which she works are extremely varied. But I bet there is more than one CD worth material by her that you would like. I can't be as helpful with her, since I don't know her nearly as well as I know Kalthoum. (Of course, that unevenness is partly why I don't know her work as well.) What Fairuz did you get? Have you heard Soiree Avec Fairuz? The sound quality is really poor, but the music is quite good. That's cheating a little since it's more classical than most of her work.

Al Andalous, Sunday, 3 August 2003 23:57 (seventeen years ago) link

I have to admit, I do get tired of Fairuz's voice after a while. It's perfect, but maybe too perfect? But I haven't been in the right mood for her lately. Back in the fall I was listening to her more than Oum Kalthoum, if I remember correctly.

Al Andalous, Monday, 4 August 2003 01:44 (seventeen years ago) link

the one Fairuz record I have has "Lebanon Forever" as its english title. It sounds very Arab classical, unlike the rub record ("Wahdon - Kifak Inta" in the Arabian Masters series) which is mostly in softy jazz style.

DV (dirtyvicar), Monday, 4 August 2003 10:17 (seventeen years ago) link

I like the first three tracks on Wahdon a lot, but the last two are horrible. Kifak Inta seems pretty pointless to me. I think they are both by her son, Ziad Rahbani. Ziad Rahbani's idea of introducing "jazz" elements into Arabic music seems to focus mostly on smooth jazz. But don't you like the upbeat songs at the beginning of Wahdon (or aren't they on that Arabian Masters CD)? Anyway, this is all stuff she's done from the 80's on. You are better off with the 60's and 70's things (not that it's always easy to find out which is which).

Al Andalous, Monday, 4 August 2003 12:01 (seventeen years ago) link

I didn't like the first tracks either. I think there were one or two good songs in the middle somewhere. but yeah, the record as a whole bears the taint of her idiot son.

DV (dirtyvicar), Monday, 4 August 2003 13:33 (seventeen years ago) link

three months pass...
I recently read A.J. Racy's Making Music in the Arab World: The Culture and Artistry of Tarab, which helped clarify some of the things I like about this music (and added a lot of useful background).

In his chapter on the specifically musical aspects of this music, he introduces the term "heterophony" (which was new to me): "As a cultivated form of artistry, heterophonic interplay is a primary feature of takht [small ensemble] music. In practice, heterophonic texture exists in two closely related formats, an overlapping type and a simultaneous type. The first occurs when a leading music part, typically a vocal improvisation, is accompanied, for example, by an instrument such as the qanun. In this case, the accompaniment 'echoes' the leading part at a slightly delayed pace, or in a rather 'out of sync' fashion. The second type applies mostly when ensemble members produce slightly varied renditions of the same musical material at the same time. This happens when takht instruments perform the same basic compositions together, but with each one rendering it differently through subtle variations, omissions, ornamental nuances, syncopations, anticipations, and so on. . . . [I]n Umm Kulthum's live recordings from the 1940s and 1950s. . . [i]n certain middle sections. . . heterophonic activity becomes particularly prominent, a suspenseful and musically focused mood engulfs and audibly moves the singer's avid admirers." Racy also comments on how heterophony has become less common in Arab music, due at least partly to the fact that it became more difficult as the takht grew into a small orchestra with an entire string section.

"Tarab artists demonstrate a striking proclivity toward moving loosely with the beat, as comparedto performing strictly on the beat, for wandering about without losing track of the underlying temporal structure. They seek a desirable balance between metric orderliness and rhythmic freedom. . ." Racy discusses this in more technical detail, but it's hard for me to excerpt or summarize, since I'm still getting a handle on it.

It's sad to me that while improvisation was making a come-back in the west, via jazz (primarily), Arab music was moving away from it, in emulation of western classical music.

Incidentally, Racy makes clear the respect in which Fairouz is a break from the tarab oriented tradition: "Meanwhile, increasingly transformed and internally varied, the musical mainstream had to vie with more recent and more novel-sounding musical expressions. One example was a Lebanese urban popular style which, pioneered in the late 1950's by the Rahbani Brothers and associated with the celebrated female vocalist Fayruz, dervied elements from the local folk repertoire, Western music, and traditional Arab music."

Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 18 November 2003 04:29 (seventeen years ago) link

Incidentally, I don't think the shifting away from tarab is entirely inspired by emulation of the west. There are some internal forces at work as well. (I guess there would have to be internal forces at work even if it were entirely a matter of emulating the west, but I'm too sleepy to be more exact.)

For example, I read--SOMEWHERE, but I can't put my hands on it--a quote from Oum Kalthoum criticizing her 40s-50s work for being too exclusively concerned with tarab, and not putting enough emphasis on putting across the text (which was very important to her). While I suspect this might partly be a matter of denial on her part that her best years were behind her, I also think there is a certain amount of Arab suspicion of tarab (which is most commonly translate as "ecstasy" but doesn't have an exact English equivalent), and not just among fundamentalists. The Lebanese composer, Marcel Khalife (a Christian, incidentally), expresses misgivings of music which gives itself over so completely to emotion, and has actively sought to keep a balance with more intellect involved. I wish Racy would write something about this, since when I write, it's largely a matter of wild speculation based on a few pieces of information.

Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 18 November 2003 05:00 (seventeen years ago) link

RS what do you know about Laure Daccache?

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 18 November 2003 22:06 (seventeen years ago) link


Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 18 November 2003 23:58 (seventeen years ago) link

I just listened to a couple online audio files. She sounds pretty good. I checked The Voice of Egypt and she's mentioned a few times in that in a way that put her at a fairly high level as a singer. There are certain things she does with her voice that remind me of Asmahan's singing, but I can't say that she sounds that much like any one particular singer.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 19 November 2003 00:21 (seventeen years ago) link

Some of this music is nice. Apparently she was known as a composer as much as she was known as a singer, which can't be said of too many Arab musicians of the time (or even now?). Oum Kalthoum wrote a couple songs, or so, but didn't pursue it. (As far as I know, I haven't heard them.)

I'm listening to these mp3s. I like "el ward" and "gharidou" better than the first three.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 19 November 2003 02:04 (seventeen years ago) link

Thanks, amateur!st, she sounds like quite a fascinating individual. And there is something a little different about the style of some of these songs, though I can't put my finger on it. I am assuming most of these are by her.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 19 November 2003 02:19 (seventeen years ago) link

Umm Kulthum was named after one of the Prophet Muhammad's daughters. "Umm" means "mother" and is an honorific title given to women who have children--they become known as "mother of [son's name"--but, in this case, her name was given at birth to honor this daughter of Muhammad.

Check out "A Voice Like Egypt," a film about Umm Kulthum based on Virginia Danielson's research.

fatima, Wednesday, 19 November 2003 02:32 (seventeen years ago) link

RS, re Laure Daccoche, I'm glad I pointed you in a happy direction. I can't listen to MP3s on any of the computers I work on here, so I'm still in the dark. Apparently she has one obscure CD on a French label but I can't find it for sale here or on the internet. If you can find it let me know.

(Do the MP3s on that page add up to enough to make a CD? Not that I would know how to do this.)

amateur!st (amateurist), Wednesday, 19 November 2003 10:02 (seventeen years ago) link

They do add up enough for a CD, but I'm not sure you can save them (which shows how much I know as well).

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 19 November 2003 13:00 (seventeen years ago) link

I found a PC I can listen to them on. They're good!

Now let's see if I can figure out how to copy them onto a CD, because I'm just borrowing this computer for a moment.

amateur!st (amateurist), Wednesday, 19 November 2003 13:32 (seventeen years ago) link

three weeks pass...
Ray Rashid, of the Rashid company that distributes Arabic music, wrote the following in his response to my questions about Daccache:

I met Laur Daccache in Egypt about seven years ago, I was invited to the Woman's league of Egypt, which was headed by a friend of mine and Mrs. Hosni Mubbarak, and the people said to me, they heard that Laur Dacashe was a singer but she had no records or tapes available in Egypt, so they had to rely on my word that she was a great vocalist in the early 1950's[.] It was strange to have to vouch for a great singer like her, Today finding her songs on Cd are rare indeed, like her big song Amanti Bellah (I believe God).

Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 13 December 2003 23:24 (seventeen years ago) link

Poor Laure Daccache, consigned to being a footnote on an Oum Kalthoum thread.

Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 13 December 2003 23:27 (seventeen years ago) link

One day this thread and those like it will be one hell of a resource, sir!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 13 December 2003 23:42 (seventeen years ago) link

What do you mean "will be," Ned? ;)

Rockist Scientist, Sunday, 14 December 2003 07:39 (seventeen years ago) link

Dear Rockist Scientist,

Today I went to a record store and saw a discount 5-CD box set of Oum Kalthoum, simply entitled "The Diva." It was on the Next Music label. Do you know anything about this and whether it's worthy? It seems like perhaps it could be a good entry point.

Thank you,


amateur!st (amateurist), Saturday, 20 December 2003 21:13 (seventeen years ago) link

Also where can I find "Ya Zalamny"?

amateur!st (amateurist), Saturday, 20 December 2003 21:16 (seventeen years ago) link

Ya Zalamny is pretty easy to get. Try www.maqam.com or www.rashid.com.

If it has these songs:

Volume 1
1. Azkouriny 33:37
2. Salo kaos al fella 31:13

Volume 2
1. Hadeeth al rouh 26:23
2. Ghareb ala bab el raga 22:26

Volume 3
1. Woleda el hoda 56:54

Volume 4
1. Gadet hobak leih 39:18

Volume 5
1. Al nile 27:04
2. Nagh el borda 22:56

Then I recommend it. (Those were posted by H. above.) I don't know every song, but I know some of them, and this is from part of the best part of her career. The only possible downside is that some of the recently reissued separate CDs for these may be remastered and sound better, but frankly, the sound quality is not going to be fantastic for these years.

If it's a collection of the five volume EMI Diva series that has several songs on each CD, I can't personally recommend it, because that's a little earlier than I like. The experts still consider it good material, but I just don't get it myself.

Anyway, if there are more than three songs per CD, then it's probably from earlier than what I'd suggesting listening to. I just looked and I see there are a couple possible box sets this could be, so I don't know exactly what we are dealing with.

Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 20 December 2003 21:32 (seventeen years ago) link

Ya Zalamny/i

You can probably find it at amazon or cduniverse, but it will almost invariably cost a lot more.

Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 20 December 2003 21:36 (seventeen years ago) link

This isn't the same 5-CD box set as the one noted above! IIRC each CD had more songs, with lengths of around 7-11 minutes each. Although there is a live disc with just two songs I believe. So perhaps it's early material.

I'm somtimes confused as to whether you are referring to albums or songs in your recommendations above.... Or are they one and the same thing essentially? The Gilbert Joseph in Paris has a large collection of O.K. CDs (although I imagine there are Arabic stores aplenty that would have more, and for less money, but I wouldn't know where to find them) from which I might choose.

Can anyone burn a CD of that Laure Daccache stuff for me? I've had no luck finding the CD...

amateur!st (amateurist), Saturday, 20 December 2003 21:37 (seventeen years ago) link

A lot of the recordings are pretty long. My copy of "Ya Zalamny" is couples it with one other song. The "Ya Zalamny" I see currently available is by itself. It's not really a matter of albums, just very long songs, some so long they have to be by themselves, most long enough to fill out a skimpy CD at least.

Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 20 December 2003 21:41 (seventeen years ago) link

Actually it's "Ya Zalimni" SD01B81 on that page.

Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 20 December 2003 21:45 (seventeen years ago) link

I checked the time last night, and "Ya Zalamny" is only slightly longer than a half hour, so I have to admit it makes a skimpy one-song CD, but it is worth it.

Rockist Scientist (rockistscientist), Wednesday, 24 December 2003 01:24 (seventeen years ago) link

four months pass...

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 12 May 2004 21:01 (sixteen years ago) link

This thread arising again and again somehow makes me feel somewhat better about life and the universe, it does. Despite my still not having in my collection not a single record by Oum Kalthoum, Om Kolthom, Om Kalsoum, Omm Kalsoum, Omme Kolsoum, Oom Koolsum, Oum Kalthoum, Oum Kalthum, Oum Kalsoum, Oum Kaltsoum, Oum Kolthoum, Oum Koulsoum, Oum Kulthum, Oum Kulthume, Um Kalthoum, Um Kolthoum, Umm Kulthum, Umm Kalsoum, Umm Kalthum, Ummu Kulthum or Umm Kulthume.

t\'\'t (t\'\'t), Wednesday, 12 May 2004 21:11 (sixteen years ago) link

It makes me feel boring. (I did just get into listening to Robaiyat el-Khayam last night though, and I liked it as usual.)

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 12 May 2004 21:15 (sixteen years ago) link

three months pass...
I just wanted to reiterate that much of "Zikrayat" (which I'm not sure I've mentioned on this particular thread) is really very beautiful, from the beginning of the vocal section. (I still find the instrumental inroduction kind of boring here.) Another great 1950's recording.zik

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Thursday, 12 August 2004 21:21 (sixteen years ago) link

I feel so guilty that I have only two albums in my possession by Oum, tho I do adore here.

I have somewhatthe same feeling about her as i about classical music - ITS SO GOOD! but also once you start you can never stop so its a lil frightening.

H (Heruy), Friday, 13 August 2004 00:46 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm fortunate in that I don't like classical music or even most jazz. Of course, that's also kind of unfortunate.

Anyway, I don't recommend feeling guilty about it.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Friday, 13 August 2004 00:55 (sixteen years ago) link

I feel guilty that I bought a copy of The Voice of Egypt about five years ago and I still haven't read it.

Monetizing Eyeballs (diamond), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:08 (sixteen years ago) link

It's a really good book, but it helps to already be very very interested in Umm Kulthum (although it certainly relates to some broader cultural issues). The introductory material is dryer than the rest of the book, from what I remember.

I wasn't aware of all the Oum Kalthoum guilt. Now I feel bad, like I'm responsible for everyone's guilt.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:13 (sixteen years ago) link

I have three CDs, and I really enjoy them - but I bought it more as a guy with an interest in cultural anthropology, as much as a music fan.

Which actually reminds me, Rockist - I first heard of Kalthoum a number of years ago through an old anthropology prof who had asked me to digitize some of his old reel-to-reel tapes (!) of middle eastern music. THe thing was, he didn't remember / hadn't labeled all the tapes, so some of the artists are unidentified. I love this collection (burned myself a copy), and I'd love to find out who some of these people are, but my knowledge is very limited. Could I send you a copy of this thing? Perhaps you might recognize some of the artists. Let me know...

Monetizing Eyeballs (diamond), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:28 (sixteen years ago) link

(bought the book for the anthro, not the cds, that is)

Monetizing Eyeballs (diamond), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:29 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh definitely, I would be willing to try to indentify some of it. I will send you my address. (I will probably do this tomorrow, since I'm ready to log off.)

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:40 (sixteen years ago) link

Sound good! And no trade or anything involved - I'm just really really curious to find out what this stuff is so I'd be more than happy to send it your way. hit me up at this email address.

Monetizing Eyeballs (diamond), Friday, 13 August 2004 01:45 (sixteen years ago) link

R.S.: Do you think you could make me a few CDRs of the best O.K. music you know? I am penniless at the moment so I can't explore this on my own. I could make you some CDRs of...well whatever you might like to hear that is in my collection (lots of pre-WWII stuff for example). If this interests you at email, please email me.

Did you ever have any luck finding anything else by Laure Daccache? I looked everywhere in Paris for the one CD that had been released (on some tiny French label), but turned up empty-handed.

|a|m|t|r|s|t| (amateurist), Friday, 13 August 2004 04:31 (sixteen years ago) link

Stupidest name of the 20th century, maybe.

Sasha (sgh), Friday, 13 August 2004 06:14 (sixteen years ago) link

fuck off sasha

|a|m|t|r|s|t| (amateurist), Friday, 13 August 2004 06:20 (sixteen years ago) link

amateurist, when did you get a burner? I still am burner-less. (No one seems to believe me when I say I can't make copies of stuff for people and when I am able to I will start contacting people.)

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Friday, 13 August 2004 10:24 (sixteen years ago) link

according to my dad, whos knowledge of arabic is slim, but still much greater than mine, Kolthoum means "pure voice." which makes he the mother of pure voice.

AaronK (AaronK), Friday, 13 August 2004 11:08 (sixteen years ago) link

I bought a cheap comp.(?) called Mother Of The Arabs a little while ago, to rry and find out what all the fuss (here, mainly!) was about.

I've only listened to it once and I know I really ought to give it another try but I'm afraid I'm not over inclined to 'cos it really didn't anything for me at all the first time.

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Friday, 13 August 2004 11:15 (sixteen years ago) link

Isn't that the one I told you would be hard to get into? The big hint is: any CD with more than three of her songs on it is probably going to contain songs from her earliest phase, which is, in my opinion, her least approachable material, and certainly quite a bit different than what came later.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 13 August 2004 11:31 (sixteen years ago) link

"Isn't that the one I told you would be hard to get into?"

It is and you did; but alas it was too late!

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Friday, 13 August 2004 11:32 (sixteen years ago) link

Also, I want to reiterate that for me (though not necessarily for everyone), it's less to do with her voice per se, as an instrument, than with her singing. (Not that I don't enjoy her voice itself in certain songs, but I've found it harder to acquire a taste for her voice than an appreciation of how she sings.)

x-post: Oh well. I don't even like her songs from before the late 30's, except for one or two. (I think that might be due to a heavy Turkish influence on the compositions she sang in her early years.)

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Friday, 13 August 2004 11:38 (sixteen years ago) link

I just happened to hear Oum Kalthoum unexpectedly on the radio two weeks ago - well, on this international/world music show on 90.7 KPFK. The entire show was dedicated to her, with this one modern Egyptian singer, I forget the name, covering a standard of Oum's towards the beginning, in order to promote a show she was doing locally to celebrate Oum's recording centennial or something. Isn't Los Angeles wunderful ?

The sounds were very easy for me to immediatey warm to, as it sounded like a variation on hindustani music, yet I must admit that the modern singer was more accessible, voice-wise, than Oum. But she wuz still c00l.

Vic (Vic), Friday, 13 August 2004 11:41 (sixteen years ago) link

The initial impression I came away with (warning: I am about to start talking about areas of music that even I am prepared to admit I know absolutely fuck all about!) like a cross between an Arabic call to prayer and something out of a very old Bollywood movie or that I might expect to hear playing in the background in an Indian restaurant.

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Friday, 13 August 2004 11:45 (sixteen years ago) link

That's what I meant when i said hindustani - "classical" north indian, even though that in itself is the name of the style that's heavily been influenced by islamic culture. From even before the Mughal period onwards, persian/turkish/arabic and indian styles mixed to shape hindustani which developed in the north, as opposed to carnatic which remained largely untouched in the south. Both can be heard in indian cinema.

Vic (Vic), Friday, 13 August 2004 11:57 (sixteen years ago) link

Thanks Vic, you've almost made me feel as if I was really making some genuine, valid, meaningful, informed observation as opposed to talking completely out of my arse (which sadly, of course, I was)!

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Friday, 13 August 2004 12:10 (sixteen years ago) link

It's all interconnected, man.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Friday, 13 August 2004 12:55 (sixteen years ago) link

RS: actually i don't have a burner, but i have friends whose burners i could use. i'm actually really happy, in a strange way, that you don't have a burner. i often feel a little left out for not having a burner, soulseek, or whatever program people are using now to get free music. (i don't have enough money to buy new music, either, at the moment.)

amateur!!!st, Friday, 13 August 2004 15:11 (sixteen years ago) link

Stewart, the compilation you got might be movie songs too, which would be a little different the material I was thinking of, but still not my favorite stuff, generally. I guess it doesn't matter really.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Friday, 13 August 2004 20:54 (sixteen years ago) link

it's less to do with her voice per se, as an instrument, than with her singing.

I see what you're saying. I just bought the Buda Musique El Sett CD (due largely to this thread) and, yeah, her voice doesn't seem "beautiful" in a conventionally western sense (unlike, say, Amalia Rodriguez, who when I first heard her, I said OMFG) but even on first listen I'm intrigued by her vocalization. There's something there that fascinates. And this, of course, is all 30's material--the only thing immediately available to me. Thanks for the tips!

Paul Ess (Paul Ess), Saturday, 14 August 2004 02:02 (sixteen years ago) link

I just listened to some samples from El Sett/the Lady, and some of that stuff sounds pretty good to me. "Tab en-nasim Al Alil" is in a style that I like (judging from a brief sound-bite). Also, I see that the collection gathers work from later than what I was assuming. So I don't know what to say, though I would still recommend that people start with something like Roubaiyat el Khayam from 1949/50. I think it's actually harder to appreciate the straight studio recordings than the live recordings, because in the live recordings you get to hear her improvising on the songs she is singing, which is where much of her greatness lies, in my opinion.

Also, it really helps if you can see some live footage of her performances.

(I was disappointed when I finally heard some Amalia Rodriguez, incidentally. "World music diva" fite!)

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Saturday, 14 August 2004 12:39 (sixteen years ago) link

I think her singing is paradoxically phallic, penetrant. Warning: I may be saying that partly to play to gay &/or post-structuralist readers of this thread.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Saturday, 14 August 2004 12:46 (sixteen years ago) link

Gender and half-assed nods to queer theory, etc. aside, I do experience much of this singing as penetrating, and in a pleasant way, so I think the metaphor of forceful and filling, but welcome, sexual penetration might actually be pretty good, even if sexual metaphors are overused in musical discussions (and even if I don't speak from experience). Her voice is thick and even drill-like at times, but again, in a pleasurable way.

(The complexities of what she does with her voice can't adequately be modeled by pelvic thrusting though.)

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Saturday, 14 August 2004 13:06 (sixteen years ago) link

one month passes...
I ordered a copy of Robaiayt el Khayam (among other things) to donate it to the library where I work. After checking on how the cataloging of the CD is progressing, I now discover that the CD inside was actually Sahran Lewahdi. That is also a great recording, however, a less ideal starting point, I think. (Also, something I can't listen to in just about any mood, the way I can listen to Robaiyat el Khayam.) I guess I will see if a distributor can send me a copy of Robaiyat, checking to see what disc is inside, before sending it. The Saudi recording industry needs to get its act together! While I am at it, I might as well donate Ana fe Entazark as well.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 15 September 2004 18:45 (sixteen years ago) link

I really like "Oum Transmissions." I wish I'd thought of that before. Maybe I should start a new thread under that title.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 15 September 2004 18:49 (sixteen years ago) link

I would like to listen to more Oum Kalthoum.

Ian c=====8 (orion), Wednesday, 15 September 2004 19:26 (sixteen years ago) link

The Saudi recording industry needs to get its act together!

this is a very politically sensitive issue, R.S. america's dependency on saudi arabian music is something that out government needs to reevaluate. perhaps they can look into alernative sourcse of arabian music, or more efficiently utilize relatively untapped resources of arabian music in alaska or the texas panhandle.

amateur!!st, Wednesday, 15 September 2004 19:28 (sixteen years ago) link

I would like to listen to more Oum Kalthoum.

That's the spirit.

amateurist, the whole idea of buying CDs made in a country whose official theology is anti-music (or something close to that) is baffling.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 15 September 2004 19:43 (sixteen years ago) link

i was just making a funny.

amateur!!st, Wednesday, 15 September 2004 20:03 (sixteen years ago) link

(funniness of funny not guaranteed)

amateur!!st, Wednesday, 15 September 2004 20:03 (sixteen years ago) link

Mr. Monetizing Eyeballs, did you ever get my address in your e-mail?

(I don't mean to bug you, but my e-mail account is kind of unreliable, so there's a real chance you didn't.)

(Unfortunately, the post office has also been unreliable lately.)

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Wednesday, 15 September 2004 21:03 (sixteen years ago) link

Rockist...can you send me you e-address too? i have something to ask you re Oum K that is not for here.

gaz (gaz), Wednesday, 15 September 2004 21:35 (sixteen years ago) link

Okay. This address should work, except I forgot the password. :( I am going to have to write them down.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Wednesday, 15 September 2004 21:39 (sixteen years ago) link

so its fine to email you but you won't be able to read it???

gaz (gaz), Wednesday, 15 September 2004 21:40 (sixteen years ago) link


Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Wednesday, 15 September 2004 22:19 (sixteen years ago) link

If I can't recover the password, I will e-mail you.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Wednesday, 15 September 2004 22:19 (sixteen years ago) link

RS, yes, I did get your address. It came through loud and clear. Unfortunately, the only thing possibly less reliable than your email account is my timeliness when it comes to burning CDs (just ask Julio...) But rest assured, I will get it out to you!

Reed Moore (diamond), Wednesday, 15 September 2004 23:26 (sixteen years ago) link

I didn't get my September Harper's either.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Wednesday, 15 September 2004 23:29 (sixteen years ago) link


Reed Moore (diamond), Wednesday, 15 September 2004 23:29 (sixteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Thursday, 7 October 2004 21:43 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm listening again to Riad el-Sounbatti's own recording of his composition Roubaiyat el Khayam, which throws Oum Kalthoum's performance (which is hard for me to forget while listening to this song) into sharp contrast. Riad el-Sounbatti is a pleasant enough singer, but remembering what Oum Kalthoum does with certain lines he is singing practically makes me giddy. (Of course, I also remembmer some of the orchestra parts (notably the kanun at the very beginning) in this performance limited to oud and vocals.) But because el-Sounbatti's performance fails to compare to Oum Kalthoum's, it makes me appreciate him more as a composer for Oum Kalthoum.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Tuesday, 12 October 2004 23:37 (sixteen years ago) link

And Songlines is going to have a beginner's guide in their next issue. It better be good. It better be someone who knows at least as much as I do (not that I'm making myself available for hire).

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Tuesday, 12 October 2004 23:41 (sixteen years ago) link

The live recording of "Hazihi Leylati" appears to be available on CD again! Awwww yeaaaaaah! I'll say more once I actually get it, but I've just ordered it. As I've mentioned above, this is my favorite among the Abdel Wahab songs she sang, and one of a handful of favorites in her late career output.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Sunday, 24 October 2004 00:38 (sixteen years ago) link

If you can call that great sprawling Egyptian prog. opera of a song a "song."

(And I just got the contract ratification bonus check today. Wheeee! And I took some decongestant because I'm getting a sinus infection! Wheeeee!)

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Sunday, 24 October 2004 00:48 (sixteen years ago) link

(You know they kind of bribe you with bonus checks. "Well, we're taking this and this away from you, so you'll have less long term, but here's a few hundred bucks.")

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Sunday, 24 October 2004 00:49 (sixteen years ago) link

decongestant usually puts me to sleep!

amateur!!!st (amateurist), Sunday, 24 October 2004 03:21 (sixteen years ago) link

It's still just the studio version of Hazihi Leylati, so back it goes.

gaz, you can e-mail me at my new normal ILX e-mail address: oumtransmissions@go.com. I have even written down my password.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 27 October 2004 19:37 (sixteen years ago) link

It's very disappointing that the two best Oum Kalthoum recordings of Abdel Wahab songs do not appear to be available on CD.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 27 October 2004 19:38 (sixteen years ago) link

btw, RS did ya get my e-mail?

H (Heruy), Thursday, 28 October 2004 07:46 (sixteen years ago) link

No. You sent it to my current address? The other one is dead.

Rockist_Scientist (rockist_scientist), Thursday, 28 October 2004 12:05 (sixteen years ago) link

two months pass...
I was looking through the NPR Curious Listener's Guide to World Music yesterday and they surprised me by recommending an Oum Kalthoum recording that is from the 30s rather than the 60s, and by Dawoud Hasni, rather than by Abdel Wahab, Baligh Hamdi, or Riad el-Sounbatti. As far as I know, I haven't heard this song.

I also saw yesterday that Women's Voices Across Musical Worlds has an article on the subject of this thread by Virginia Danielson, which looked like a really good compact introduction to Oum Kalthoum.

RS LaRue (rockist_scientist), Friday, 31 December 2004 17:53 (sixteen years ago) link

is that last title a book?

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Friday, 31 December 2004 20:55 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes, they are both books. I don't remember much about who else was in it.

RS LaRue (rockist_scientist), Saturday, 1 January 2005 01:35 (sixteen years ago) link

two months pass...
"Salo Qalbi": She can't even get the first line out completely because the audience is so happy to see her again that they drown her out with applause.

RS £aRue (rockist_scientist), Wednesday, 9 March 2005 18:20 (fifteen years ago) link

The January/February issue of Songlines has an introduction to Oum Kalthoum. There's not enough meat to it for me to really find much to complain about. It still bugs me that Abdel Wahab is the composer mentioned as her close associate when they didn't start collaborating until the 60s and it was Riad el Sounbatti who was the real major compositional genius that contributed to making Oum Kalthoum's opus what it was. I wish there were more of an attempt in this to describe what she does as a singer, rather than repeating the legend about the legend around the legend.

Recommended recordings:

Why is Al Atlal so often the recommended CD? Why that as the only one-song CD they recommend? Why recommend the 5 volume EMI collection of early material? Why bypass the core of her greatest work: the late 30s through the early 60s?

I paid over ten dollars for this issue of Songlines, so I could complain about this?

(Songlines is really lightweight. Despite it's frequent mediocrity, I think The Beat's coverage of the "world music" that it covers, which probably wouldn't include Oum Kalthoum, is better.)

Geez, I think the Oum Kalthoum intro. that appeared in Global Rhythms was better than this (but that's by the same author who wrote that NPR guide mentioned above, and I get the impression that he's spent some time listening to Oum Kalthoum.

RS £aRue (rockist_scientist), Friday, 11 March 2005 02:42 (fifteen years ago) link

Songlines does earn points for the inset where they recommend the Asmahan Legends of the 20th Century CD.

Actually, Songlines is pretty good for reviews. It's the articles that are usually a let-down.

RS £aRue (rockist_scientist), Friday, 11 March 2005 22:36 (fifteen years ago) link

one month passes...
Umm Kulthum has been a significant influence on a number of musicians, both in the Arab world and beyond. Among others, Jah Wobble has claimed her as a significant influence on his work.


Jah Wobble? He's worth mentioning in a capsule biography of Umm Kulthum? (Did Natacha Atlas write this?)

RS_LaRue (RSLaRue), Monday, 18 April 2005 13:18 (fifteen years ago) link

Umm Kulthum is undoubtedly the most famous and recognized person in the History of the Middle East.


I think Mohammed might just be a little better known.

She did not use musical scores, she simply sang a few simple lines over and over altering them as her heart saw fit.

She didn't read scores while performing, but her works were probably all pre-composed. The lines might have generally been fairly simple, but some of the lyrics were considered to be very challenging poetry.

RS_LaRue (RSLaRue), Monday, 18 April 2005 13:28 (fifteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Oum Kalthoum in Iraq, 1932. (That's what the website said anyway.)

RS_LaRue (RSLaRue), Thursday, 5 May 2005 20:43 (fifteen years ago) link

three months pass...

Oum Kalthoum's villa.

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Tuesday, 23 August 2005 23:29 (fifteen years ago) link


Ian John50n (orion), Wednesday, 24 August 2005 01:45 (fifteen years ago) link

two months pass...
please ,
iwant to have the songs of this greatest artist in order to lesten to it.
I love oumkalthoum so much.


amina marref, Monday, 7 November 2005 16:05 (fifteen years ago) link

two months pass...
I never even saw that message before.

"The greatest ever singer in the world"--Rabih Abou Khalil (quoted in Songlines, Jan/Feb 2006).

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Tuesday, 17 January 2006 19:29 (fourteen years ago) link

six months pass...
two weeks pass...
Nice clip from Al Atlal:


Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Sunday, 13 August 2006 02:39 (fourteen years ago) link

thanks, r.s. i wonder if i could find some of the better material you recommend above on one of the bourgeoning mp3 blogs...

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Sunday, 13 August 2006 03:22 (fourteen years ago) link

I haven't been looking lately. Maybe we can arrange something?

Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Sunday, 13 August 2006 03:30 (fourteen years ago) link

sure--email me and tell me if you're looking for anything!

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Sunday, 13 August 2006 03:50 (fourteen years ago) link

seven months pass...
I like Rachid Taha's comments in his recent "Invisible Jukebox" interview in The Wire. He immediately calls Nahj El Borda (I think it was) "psychedelic." I hear it that way too, but not everyone knows what I'm talking about when I say this or that Arabic thing sounds "psychedelic."

Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 27 March 2007 01:18 (thirteen years ago) link

one month passes...
I had a dream that Oum Kalthoum was still alive and that she sang at some sort of ceremony dedicating a religious site (also somehow connected to my job in the dream). She was singing together with some other people, including one of my co-workers. Somehow I wasn't involved and didn't get to meet her, but I told someone in the dream that Oum Kalthoum's career had started in 1910 (not necessarily true, but I don't remember off-hand) and wasn't it amazing that she was still going (in 2007).

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 3 May 2007 15:37 (thirteen years ago) link

My dreams are so self-parodic!

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 3 May 2007 15:39 (thirteen years ago) link

three weeks pass...

The beginning of "Baid Anak" is now up on youtube. (There are other parts up too. I haven't checked to see if it is a complete concert. The CD copy of this is quite long, and even it, I think, leaves off a portion of the instrumental intro. here, though I haven't listened for a while, so I'm not positive.) This opening passage is one of my favorite Oum Kalthoum performances (and it's from relatively late in her career). Notice how she totally works off the one possibly overzealous audience member who calls out (around 4:26ish) and just takes everything deeper. This is absolute must-see if you are remotely interested in Oum Kalthoum:


Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 30 May 2007 02:16 (thirteen years ago) link

Performing "Al Atlal" in Paris:


Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 30 May 2007 04:53 (thirteen years ago) link

Another "Al Atlal"!


(This was something she performed very heavily in her international touring at one point in the 60s. Not like I was there, alas.)

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 30 May 2007 12:17 (thirteen years ago) link

This is pretty amazing (one-hand oud solo version of "Inta Omri"):


Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 30 May 2007 12:34 (thirteen years ago) link

Interesting. This Kuwaiti audience behaves more like a western audience than maybe any other audience I've seen/heard in an Oum Kalthoum live recording.

Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 30 May 2007 12:52 (thirteen years ago) link

five months pass...

another victim of ilx2 thread title truncation

Lingbert, Monday, 12 November 2007 00:10 (thirteen years ago) link

Yes, it's sad. What is it with people reviving my old threads today? (Not complaining, it's just weird.)

Rockist Scientist, Monday, 12 November 2007 00:21 (thirteen years ago) link

If only ILX could do Arabic script - then we would only need one version of her name.

The Real Dirty Vicar, Monday, 12 November 2007 13:12 (thirteen years ago) link

four months pass...

Hey Rockist Scientist or someone, can you date/rate these two new eMusic acquisitions....?



Hadrian VIII, Wednesday, 12 March 2008 18:04 (twelve years ago) link

or daterape

Hadrian VIII, Wednesday, 12 March 2008 18:04 (twelve years ago) link

I think I have a copy of this first one, but I will have to check and get back to you once I'm at home.

_Rockist__Scientist_, Wednesday, 12 March 2008 18:33 (twelve years ago) link

I'm checking out Ozkourini now. I think I picked this up in one of the last batches of Oum Kalthoum CDs I bought, which I haven't listened to all that much. This didn't really stand out for me, but sometimes it takes me a while to get into particular recordings by the subject of this thread. There are some fine solo violin passages so far.

There was just a big "ALLAH!" from the audience which I didn't see coming, which means I'm not quite clicking with it. Usually when I really click with one of these performances, I know when the audience is about to flip out.

It's very dark and brooding (presumably, romantically), even by the standards of her repertoire.

_Rockist__Scientist_, Thursday, 13 March 2008 01:13 (twelve years ago) link

The pace is finally picking up somewhat, but I'd have to say this is not something I'd recommend to someone who hasn't heard a bunch of her other music already.

_Rockist__Scientist_, Thursday, 13 March 2008 01:20 (twelve years ago) link

I've never seen the movie clip for this song before. "Ha Ablou Bokra," one of my favorite relatively shorter songs from her career:


_Rockist__Scientist_, Thursday, 13 March 2008 02:13 (twelve years ago) link

five months pass...


life at the Uum Kulthum cafe in Iraq

Devotees of the Sad, Beautiful Voice of Umm Kulthum

By Andrea Bruce
Washington Post Staff Photographer
Monday, August 11, 2008; A11

The cafe's dust-streaked sign is lost amid the chaos of old Baghdad. But a painted silhouette of a woman hangs above the entrance, signaling the way to an unlighted, soot-covered hallway stacked with broken generators.

Through the passage, street sounds fade and a woman's voice becomes clear. A reel-to-reel tape player is spinning the songs of the Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum. More than 30 years after her death, she is still probably the best-known and most beloved singer in the Middle East.

Several regulars -- well-dressed men who appear to be in their 50s -- sit on benches in the multitiered room known as the Umm Kulthum Cafe. They sip tea as they listen.

"Her voice is sweet," says Waheed A. Fatia, 61, who claims to have had an Umm Kulthum obsession since he was 10. "She has layers, a rich soprano. And she performs improvised, like American jazz."

Hookah pipes bubble, the fragrant smoke competing with the harsh, unfiltered cigarette smoke from the other side of the room, where men flip dominoes or softly move a rook into check. They play from midmorning to early evening, every day, to the sad, beautiful voice of Umm Kulthum. The cafe plays nothing else.

"No one obeys laws now, or has pride," Waheed says. "No security. No stability. But through all of this," he adds, looking around the cafe, "this is the same."

Less than a minute later, four young men wearing soccer jerseys and T-shirts emerge from the hallway and approach the cafe manager. They are members of the Sons of Iraq, former insurgents now allied with U.S. forces, here to collect the monthly "protection" fee of 15,000 Iraqi dinars -- about $12.

"This used to be a good street. With a bus stop, nightlife," says Jehad el-Obeiedi, 70, a retired movie director. "They called it 'the city of singing.' There was a famous nightclub next door."

From age-blackened paintings and framed black-and-white photos, Umm Kulthum looks down over her fans from every wall of the cafe while they hum her songs.

"We listen to her every day," Obeiedi says, "as if listening to it for the first time."

Washington Post photographer Andrea Bruce is documenting the lives of people in Iraq in a feature, Unseen Iraq, appearing regularly in the World pages. For a photo gallery and previous columns, visit http://blog.washingtonpost.com/unseen-iraq.

curmudgeon, Friday, 15 August 2008 18:01 (twelve years ago) link

four months pass...

Still the best.

_Rockist__Scientist_, Wednesday, 31 December 2008 20:24 (twelve years ago) link

I think there might be a tribute to her coming up as part of the February and March Arabic Music events coming to the Kennedy Center in DC

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 31 December 2008 20:36 (twelve years ago) link

Oum Kalthoum rehearsing a song she never formally recorded or publically performed:

_Rockist__Scientist_, Friday, 2 January 2009 19:05 (twelve years ago) link

rockist can you send something our way? post a link on yousendit perhaps? I'm very interested to hear some more of her if possible.

Moka, Saturday, 3 January 2009 09:14 (twelve years ago) link

My access to the internet is kind of limited at the moment (no dsl at home), so if I do it, it won't be real soon..

Also they are using a two year old version of Explorer in the library here making it hard for me to proof my posts, thanks to the way they display. I think I need to ask about updating that again.

_Rockist__Scientist_, Saturday, 3 January 2009 19:37 (twelve years ago) link

three weeks pass...

Moka check your e-mail (& continue checking).

_Rockist__Scientist_, Monday, 26 January 2009 21:30 (eleven years ago) link

Okay I'm already finished. I forgot just how easy everything has become. (Connection speeds here are usually really slow though, but that didn't seem to have an impact in this case.)

_Rockist__Scientist_, Monday, 26 January 2009 21:37 (eleven years ago) link

eight months pass...

There's some nice ol black & white footage of her with Youssou N'Dour talking about growing up listening to her, in the new Youssou N''Dour movie doc I recently saw that focussed on the making and promotion of his Egypt album.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 14:18 (eleven years ago) link

this is prob my favorite thread title ever

mark cl, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 15:05 (eleven years ago) link

How is it possible that there is footage of her talking to Youssou N'Dour? She died in 1975. But now on checking Youssou N'Dour's bio I see that he started singing when he was 12 and was already a big hit in the early 70s, so I suppose it's not impossible. I will have to look for this.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 20 October 2009 22:47 (eleven years ago) link

No, that's not what I meant-- I left out a comma and phrased that poorly. Youssou is shown in the documentary talking about Oum and the movie cuts away to a black and white film clip of Oum. Youssou talks about listening to Oum on the radio as a kid.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 04:07 (eleven years ago) link

noone but rockist scientist is likely to care, but laure daccache died in 2005. i hadn't known.


amateurist, Saturday, 24 October 2009 07:17 (eleven years ago) link

Actually, I put that on this thread:

Arabic music (not elsewhere classified)

You must have missed it.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 24 October 2009 07:28 (eleven years ago) link

And by the way, this guy has an amazing youtube channel:


_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 24 October 2009 07:30 (eleven years ago) link

holy shit. wish i could read arabic so i know what the different videos are!

amateurist, Saturday, 24 October 2009 07:44 (eleven years ago) link

nine months pass...

I finally bought Ansak and it turns out that (1) it's great (so far) and (2) I already know the basic outline of the song from a George Wassouf Reader's Digest condensed version. It's got this one little hook that I have always loved. I think I need to rate Baligh Hamdi a little more highly than I have lately. (On the other hand, I think he probably ended up writing too much and maybe taking too many drugs. But with Oum Kalthoum, anyone doing compositions for her gets filtered through a serious quality control mechanism.)

The volume is a little low on this clip, but it's worth it for the crazy audience:


(Once again, I wish my mom had lived long enough for me to get her into Oum Kalthoum. I know she would have loved her.)

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 10 August 2010 12:51 (ten years ago) link

five months pass...

Give me my freedom, set free my hands!

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 31 January 2011 05:33 (nine years ago) link

(errata: Al-Atlal)

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 31 January 2011 05:34 (nine years ago) link

You cannot get what you want in this world by wishing; you must take it by force
--"Salû Qalbî"

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 31 January 2011 05:39 (nine years ago) link

two weeks pass...

I think what comes across the most in this interview is simply her control, especially her control of her image. She definitely doesn't seem like the easiest interviewee:


_Rudipherous_, Monday, 14 February 2011 15:43 (nine years ago) link

two weeks pass...

This slays:


I think an excerpt from this is included in the documentary A Voice Like Egypt.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 1 March 2011 04:15 (nine years ago) link

I think I don't have a recording of this song either.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 1 March 2011 04:15 (nine years ago) link

six months pass...

"I put on music: Little Miss Train, a collaboration, Van Morrison duetting with Coirsa Yakov, the Besz Umm Kalsoum as he was called, on his 1987 tour."--from The City & the City, by China Mieville.

_Rudipherous_, Friday, 2 September 2011 20:13 (nine years ago) link

nine months pass...

Spotify seems to have massively upgraded their Oum Kalthoum holdings, or at least the way they are presented. Hopefully they've caught some of the glitchy files as well. But at a glance it seems like there are more songs available now. If not, they are at least better organized.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 19 June 2012 00:05 (eight years ago) link

five months pass...

Here's the live recording of Hazihi Leylati, which is inexplicably difficult to find:


This is still probably my favorite Abdel Wahab songs sung by Oum Kalthoum.

redress control number (_Rudipherous_), Thursday, 6 December 2012 04:27 (eight years ago) link

Actually, this isn't even the same live version I have on cassette. Of course!

redress control number (_Rudipherous_), Thursday, 6 December 2012 04:36 (eight years ago) link

Less playful and inspired.

redress control number (_Rudipherous_), Thursday, 6 December 2012 04:37 (eight years ago) link

two months pass...

Let the fundamentalist Islamists, or whatever they should be called, attempt to ban Umm Kulthum's music in Egypt, and we'll see how far they got. That is laugh out loud funny.

(That brief article needs some fact checking. I'm pretty sure Umm Kulthum did not appear in dozens of movies. Closer to a total of a half dozen. I wouldn't say she did anything to integrate western singing approaches with Arab ones either. Asmahan did more of that, during her brief career. Of course, many of Umm Kulthum's composers did integrate some aspects of western music, and she performed that music. But in terms of vocal technique, I think she was pretty purely within Arab tradition.)

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 20 February 2013 20:44 (seven years ago) link

I'm starting to think that those who claim the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has been compromised and brought into power by the west are correct. Anyway, I'd be very surprised if there is a popular majority in Egypt in favor of this sort of extremism, even despite enormous frustration.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 20 February 2013 21:30 (seven years ago) link

FWIW: 'CIA favors Brotherhood as Egypt dictatorship benefits US'

I don't remember exactly what he says here, but I find Engdahl generally comes well armed with facts. Of course, that doesn't mean he's right. (And there are facts and then there are "facts.")

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 20 February 2013 21:37 (seven years ago) link

I almost hope they will ban Umm Kulthum's music, because that would be a really quick way for the takfiris to end up with their throats slit overnight.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 20 February 2013 21:39 (seven years ago) link

I really need to listen to more of this, enjoyed it greatly last time I checked her out.

Not really aware in enough depth to comment on the news article...

emil.y, Wednesday, 20 February 2013 21:48 (seven years ago) link

After the Revolution, they almost banned her for her close ties to the monarchy but Nasser said, "Are you crazy?! Do you want Egypt to turn against us?"

Canaille help you (Michael White), Wednesday, 20 February 2013 21:51 (seven years ago) link

nine months pass...


_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 26 November 2013 22:16 (seven years ago) link

Okay, I'm taking a new approach to creating a semi-comprehensive Oum Kalthoum playlist on Spotify. This could take a couple months. It depends how quickly I can get through all these early recordings that still sound like the Ottoman Empire to me (because I want to listen to every track I include, if only for audio issues). Hopefully, more to come.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 27 November 2013 18:50 (seven years ago) link

Thanks. I hadn't seen this, and she is an impressive singer, to me.

Baeed Anak:


And here she is singing an Asmahan song:


_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 27 November 2013 19:09 (seven years ago) link

Just a footnote, but an interesting one.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 27 November 2013 19:10 (seven years ago) link

Thanks for all of this-- the Jennifer Grout stuff via Michael and your Spotify work

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 27 November 2013 19:22 (seven years ago) link

The Asmahan cover makes things more complicated since Asmahan herself borrowed from European classical vocal technique (at least partly self taught I think).

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 27 November 2013 19:26 (seven years ago) link

And despite a career cut short by an early death, Asmahan is one singer who actually deservers to be mentioned in the same breath as Oum Kalthoum.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 27 November 2013 19:27 (seven years ago) link

two months pass...


My wife is Nagat's granddaughter. We lived in Cairo all last year and it was really amazing how celebrated Oum socially. 1 of every 5 cars was blasting her music, or more current artists from the 60s and 70s period, like Nagat. Even on the TV all the celebrated black and white movies, where a lot of these singers also acted, is dominating a dozen channels. The public really loves that period in Egyptian culture. My photo above is an Oum stencil that could be found on every block of the street.

Neal Cassady, Thursday, 20 February 2014 00:44 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

There is now a crater on the planet Mercury named for her. https://carnegiescience.edu/news/mercury-crater-naming-contest-winners-announced

mick signals, Thursday, 30 April 2015 00:56 (five years ago) link


curmudgeon, Thursday, 30 April 2015 02:36 (five years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Sorry I missed that message from the person with the Nagat connection. Definitely noteworthy.

Here is a late performance of Robaeyat el Khayam, at a much slower tempo than the more familiar earlier recording. At first I didn't care for that so much, but over time this realization goes to a lot of unique places:


_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 20 May 2015 13:23 (five years ago) link

It does take a little while to get to the first passage with an intense tarab feel (at least in my listening), but it's worth it.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 20 May 2015 13:35 (five years ago) link

I'd say it starts to get more intense a little before the 20 minute mark.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 20 May 2015 13:48 (five years ago) link

This is closer to the style of her 40s and 50s performances than maybe any of her live recording I've heard from the 60's.

The kanunist does really crazy runs like I don't think I've ever heard in an Oum Kalthoum song. Would be overkill on a regular basis, but the novelty of it is enjoyable here.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 20 May 2015 14:43 (five years ago) link

eleven months pass...

All Robaiyat el Khayam all the time:


Wish they would do a proper release of all of this live material, with English language information, but in the mean time this channel is amazing. I haven't even made my way through just the live variants for this one song.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 23 April 2016 16:18 (four years ago) link

I became a pretty big fan after reading this thread 7 or 8 years ago. I looked at a random tv show clip in black and white and abysmal sound and it pushed all my buttons, hairs standing on end. She's the real thing, no doubt.

I agree -- fucking hell it's hard to figure out what's what in her oeuvre! I've accumulated dozens of long-song mp3s and a few random cds over the years (the ones with the arabesque patterned artwork, must've been a series) and have a decent collection now but she remains a complete mystery! In a way that is part of the appeal but is still a little frustrating. I HATE the later era when the harmonium is introduced, but everything before that is pretty uniformly amazing as far as I can tell.

Still have no idea how to spell/pronounce her name! Some people I know had this stupid device where you talk to it and it finds the music you ask for and naturally, trying to stump it, I tried about 10 different Oum Kalthoum pronunciations and they all failed miserably.

liam fennell, Monday, 25 April 2016 12:57 (four years ago) link

If you have not read it, Virginia Danielson's Voice of Egypt provides a good orientation. Also, her dissertation (that the book is based on) includes an appendix which attempts to list all the songs Oum Kalthoum performed, with some basic information about them (lyricist/poet, composer, maqam, date of first performance).

But that Nizar Nasser channel takes it all to another level in terms of collecting live recordings. I just wish it had information in English.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 25 April 2016 16:57 (four years ago) link

I became a pretty big fan after reading this thread 7 or 8 years ago. I looked at a random tv show clip in black and white and abysmal sound and it pushed all my buttons, hairs standing on end. She's the real thing, no doubt.

Ha, this is my experience too. Knew nothing about her until this thread, still know pretty much nothing except that I love her.

emil.y, Monday, 25 April 2016 17:03 (four years ago) link

She is really on fire early on, in this performance of Zikrayat that I've never heard before:


Control = Passion

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 8 May 2016 03:38 (four years ago) link

The downtempo passage that starts about 30 minutes in.


_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 8 May 2016 04:11 (four years ago) link

Ana Fi Intazarak (not the one available as a commercial CD), with some very interesting discussion:


_Rudipherous_, Monday, 16 May 2016 02:54 (four years ago) link

(I mean, not the performance. Obviously it's the same song.)

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 16 May 2016 02:55 (four years ago) link

one month passes...


Special tribute concert and panel at the National Museum of women in the Arts in Washington DC July 10 from 3 to 5 pm

This Cultural Capital session honors Egyptian contralto singer and songwriter Umm Kulthum (ca. 1904–1975). Frequently referred to as the “Voice of Egypt” or the “Star of the East,” Kulthum remains an unprecedented icon of the Arab world. Her influence and image continue to resonate, inspiring musicians and artists alike.

The day features performances in Arabic from Kulthum’s beloved repertoire, and a moderated conversation about the social and political context in which Kulthum became the “Diva of Arabic Song,” during some of the most significant historical events in Egypt and the Arab World in the 20th century.

Huda Asfour, performer and composer
Lubana Al Quntar, soprano
Laura Lohman, associate professor of music, California State University, Fullerton
Hazami Sayed, executive director, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, Philadelphia
Lyne Sneige (moderator), director, Arts & Culture Program, Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C.
A reception will follow the performances and moderated conversations. Special tours of She Who Tells a Story: Women from Iran and the Arab World will be offered prior to the program starting at 2 p.m.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 28 June 2016 14:46 (four years ago) link

three months pass...

I've only really become aware of هو صحيح الهوى غلاب Howa (Huwa, Hoa, Howwa) Sahih (despite hearing excerpts from it ages ago), relatively recently. I read in a youtube comment that this was a piece written by Zakarya Ahmed ten years after his falling out with Oum Kalthoum. Confirmed here:


I knew she had successfully sued him for performing a song she had previously recorded, that he had written for her, but I don't remember being aware that they had ever reconciled. And then he died a year after he wrote this song, which has to be one of the best of her later career period.

(Not pretending to know Arabic, but using Arabic script is generally the most effective way to do title searches.)

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 15 October 2016 23:03 (four years ago) link

Had posted at least some of this song earlier in the thread, with an especially famous passage of improvisation ("Nazra," etc.) from one of her post-Six Day War concerts in North Africa.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 15 October 2016 23:15 (four years ago) link

I think this is the main recording and I think it's better than the two I just posted above, overall:


_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 02:05 (four years ago) link

Not sure who messed up at 46:11 in that 1968 performance. She seems to jump the gun though.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 02:45 (four years ago) link

Wait. No. It's not just my imagination. Embedded youtube videos are getting bigger.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 02:45 (four years ago) link

46:40 - Okay, she just shut me up with that.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 02:50 (four years ago) link

And everything that has followed, so far.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 02:51 (four years ago) link

(On further listening, I'll take this "68 version, but I think there may be a couple different early 60s versions floating around even on Spotify, unless I'm getting it mixed up with a different song.)

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 04:19 (four years ago) link

I didn't realize that Neal Cassady was a regular poster here. I just assumed he was someone just stopping in at this thread. I should really read the rolling post-Fahey etc. etc. thread since some of it would interest me.

I have several Nagat cassettes I used to listen to pretty regularly at one time (back when I listened to a lot of Warda).

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 16 October 2016 15:51 (four years ago) link

More Howa Sahih (thanks to the great Nizar Nasser channel):


Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Saturday, 29 October 2016 20:13 (four years ago) link

Not sure who messed up at 46:11 in that 1968 performance. She seems to jump the gun though.

On further listening, I think what happens is that she decides to switch directions at the last minute and the accompaniment doesn't follow it. Based on what follows, it seems that she had gotten an inspiration. It is quite abrupt though.

Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Saturday, 29 October 2016 20:16 (four years ago) link

needed to be a poll

the kids are alt right (darraghmac), Sunday, 30 October 2016 00:31 (four years ago) link

A poll for me alone.

Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Sunday, 30 October 2016 03:55 (four years ago) link

I strongly suspect this Nizar Nasser who has a youtube channel full of Oum Kalthoum recordings is a descendant of Gamal Abdel Nasser, which would explain his access to so many rare recordings.

Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Sunday, 30 October 2016 04:03 (four years ago) link

Sounds like a good guess.

curmudgeon, Monday, 31 October 2016 14:28 (four years ago) link

I'm not surprised that there are so many great performances of her songs, but I'm a little surprised by how many of the 60s performances hark back to the her more tarab-oriented 40s and 50s approach. Hearing her 60s versions of older songs actually increases my esteem for her, if that's possible. As I've often said, overall I have less use for her 60s (especially mid-to-late) and 70s songs, but now her 60s career is more fully fleshed out by live recordings.

Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Saturday, 5 November 2016 16:51 (four years ago) link

Less than fabulous audio, but a great performance of Sahran Lewahdi, different from the one on CD:


Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Sunday, 6 November 2016 01:05 (four years ago) link

I like much of what I hear here, but I haven't found the time to really listen a lot. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting.

curmudgeon, Monday, 7 November 2016 00:20 (four years ago) link

I don't know if I'm doing any heavy lifting, but glad you find it useful.

I don't think I've ever heard anything like this before. It appears to be one concert where she sings three different songs back to back (more or less). I think she introduces the last song as well, but I'm not sure. I am not that confident of recognizing her speaking voice. Two of my favorite songs included.


I plan on finally trying to listen to a list of (more or less) all her songs, which should be possible between Spotify and youtube. However, a lot has gone missing from Spotify. I don't know how much of it was just duplicate copies of things, but I think some of it might not have been.

(I do take breaks from listening to her. The heaviness can be too much after a certain point. I've tried listening to different version of Sahran Lewahdi back to back and it's just too much wailing for me at one sitting, to be honest.)

Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Tuesday, 8 November 2016 03:37 (four years ago) link

I don't think I've ever heard her introduce a song before, if that's what's happening before the third track (Ana Fi Intazark), in the video above. This makes me want to hear more from the mid-40s. The concert sounds quite intimate compared to what came later, though maybe not more than others I've heard from this time-frame.

Aristotle error-admitting beer (_Rudipherous_), Tuesday, 8 November 2016 04:35 (four years ago) link

two weeks pass...

Another fine ياظالمني (Ya Zalamny), such a great piece:


_Rudipherous_, Monday, 28 November 2016 06:07 (four years ago) link

Segment of the very upbeat film song Ghannili Sheway Sheway, apparently with audience sing-along, unless she had a chorus with her for this song, but seems like an audience thing:


Please ban from the internet the person leaving one thumbs down on a lot of these videos.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 3 December 2016 04:43 (four years ago) link

Terrific photo of Oum Kalthoum with Fairouz


_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 3 December 2016 04:53 (four years ago) link

Have not linked to this lately (or possibly ever). A "reasonably complete" list of her songs:


I think this is the same as what's in an appendix of Virginia Louise Danielson's thesis.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 3 December 2016 06:55 (four years ago) link

Another performance of Ya Zalamni. It's such a privilege to hear how she varied the performance for some of these songs from concert to concert. Much of her improvising here goes in very different directions than the main recording I'm familir with:


_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 4 December 2016 03:07 (four years ago) link

It looks like I have somehow never mentioned Awedt Einy on this thread, unless I gave it some sort of spelling I can't currently remember. Just bookmarked a search on recordings of this song which is somewhat similar to Ya Zalamni (and came out at around the same time I think). So far, so good:


Just amazing to be able to hear all of this.

(I've never said it before but Oum Kalthoum's kanunist looks like a character actor.)

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 4 December 2016 03:40 (four years ago) link

Instrumental jazz cover of Baligh Hamdi's Alf Layla Wa Layla (late career Oum Kalthoum song) that I missed last year:


I miss the extremely varied orchestration of the original. One of the enjoyable things about late period Oum Kalthoum songs is that they tend to have a wide sound palate in performance, so you get some electric gutiar, some accordion, some saxophone, etc. along with the core of her orchestra.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 4 December 2016 16:17 (four years ago) link

The original:


_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 4 December 2016 16:24 (four years ago) link

Sorry but not finding the Maalouf too exciting.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 4 December 2016 16:41 (four years ago) link

I also really like the emphatic quality of the strings on the Oum Kalthoum Alf Lyla recording (I was thinking "strident" but then I listened again and it's not quite strident). And the bent notes on electric guitar, few though they are.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 6 December 2016 06:21 (four years ago) link

You watnt to do a contemporary instrumental of a Baligh Hamdi song? Maybe you should try some sort of maximalist electric and electronic approach. (Not that there aren't some good melodies that can be worked with in a fairly straight form, but I think maybe the emphasis should be on worked with, rather than just following the way the songs play out when sung.)

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 6 December 2016 06:28 (four years ago) link

جددت حبك ليه / Gadedt Hobak Leh.


This kind of goes on and on but it's wonderful. In recordings from this time period, the sound of her voice as such is often enough to keep me absorbed. I think my CD copy of a version of it has a transliteration that includes an unpronounceably consonant-laden initial word.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 10 December 2016 05:38 (four years ago) link

Fun concert footage of Howwa Sahih, partly for all the audience shots. I'm guessing this is an Egyptian audience because while they are certainly engaged, they also seem kind of relaxed, not like the over the top audiences she often had when she toured other countries.


_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 10 December 2016 06:10 (four years ago) link

The oudist sitting behind her is Mohamed El Qasabji, who composed so many of her early songs, but stayed with her orchestra well past the point he was still writing for her.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 10 December 2016 06:17 (four years ago) link

It's also a pretty straight delivery of a song she can be heard to play around with a lot more in other recordings I linked to above. It seems like there is a little more emphasis here on delivering the text, and less focus on tarab, to the extent I can make that sort of judgment without even being able to understand the words.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 10 December 2016 06:32 (four years ago) link

(And I wanted to go to bed early but I might just stay up and listen to the rest of this.)

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 10 December 2016 06:33 (four years ago) link

Well, this is good:


_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 17 December 2016 05:37 (four years ago) link

three weeks pass...

This looks like it's a playlist entirely devoted to Ya Zalamny but I haven't heard most of it yet. Paradise on earth. If I saw it before, why has it taken me this long to get to it.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 9 January 2017 02:29 (four years ago) link

Woo Hoo!

curmudgeon, Friday, 13 January 2017 18:23 (four years ago) link

The fourth performance on that playlist has some phenomenal instrumental soloing toward the end. It's great to hear some of the key accompanists stretch out more than they often have the chance to do. The concert ends up feeling very distinctive. Crowd is completely nuts.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 14 January 2017 05:54 (four years ago) link

The oudist almost never takes solos, and here he is laying down this amazing takasim.

Needles to say, she had nothing but the best musicians in her orchestra, especially in lead roles.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 14 January 2017 05:57 (four years ago) link

This fifth performance, she is messing with the audience's head early on. I think she's working in an unexpected modulation to a different maqam, but not even during an unmetered section where improvisation is more expected. Really interesting stuff. I wasn't as taken with the second and third performances on this playlist.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 14 January 2017 21:15 (four years ago) link

This is fantastic.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 14 January 2017 21:18 (four years ago) link



_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 14 January 2017 21:39 (four years ago) link


_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 14 January 2017 21:40 (four years ago) link

I don't know if this excerpt is from a concert posted in complete form elsewhere. It's hard to explain why some of this is so amazing. If you aren't familiar with the song (I'm still listening through the Ya Zalamny playlist linked to above), it would probably be more difficult to hear it. The pauses/breaks are quite distinctive.


_Rudipherous_, Monday, 16 January 2017 05:21 (four years ago) link

Sahran Lewahdi with what I guess are shortwave radio (or some kind of radio) noises mixed in here and there!


Ney solo + woooOOOOoooo of scifi radio bubble sounds.

Good performance too.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 17 January 2017 05:43 (three years ago) link

Good entry point for fans of early electronic music.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 17 January 2017 05:44 (three years ago) link

ولد الهدى Woleda el Hoda (Oulida el Hoda)



_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 22 January 2017 00:20 (three years ago) link

I noticed that in some of the 50s recordings, the percussion jumps out, at least at times, more than in later recordings. I like it. It might particularly be drew of the religiously-themed material (like the song above).

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 22 January 2017 00:24 (three years ago) link

I don't understand why there aren't more performances of "Habibi Yes`ed Awqatu" (حبيبى يسعد اوقاته). I think that is one of her greatest songs. It's one of the first ones I really liked. The Palestinian who helped me get oriented in Arabic music was surprised that I singled that one out, as he said he had only recently come to appreciate it (and perhaps music by Zakaria Ahmed from that era in general).

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 22 January 2017 04:16 (three years ago) link

Haven't finished with this, but so far it's yet another extraordinary performance of Robaeyat El Khayam:


_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 28 January 2017 06:57 (three years ago) link

Like the lines are different channels she is switching between, always on, but only heard one at a time.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 28 January 2017 16:33 (three years ago) link

I somehow forgot about the Robaeyat El Khayam playlist (on Nizar Nasser's channel) before. This is high priority hear-before-I-die material.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 30 January 2017 04:50 (three years ago) link

three weeks pass...

Studio version of Robaeyat el Khayam. I've never heard this before:


_Rudipherous_, Thursday, 23 February 2017 03:56 (three years ago) link

Relationship of accompaniment to vocal line is quite different in places. 22:25-22:40. Those heavy flourishes from the accompaniment. Sounds odd to me. Anyway, I've never noticed any live versions that stick to that. Maybe it's there and I just haven't noticed. But it almost has to be more subtle if it hasn't jumped out in the same way, so it would still be different to a degree.

_Rudipherous_, Thursday, 23 February 2017 04:54 (three years ago) link

Odd how there is a slow instrumental conclusion to the performance. In live performance the real ending is always with her last climactic vocal closure.

_Rudipherous_, Thursday, 23 February 2017 05:09 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

A very strong Shams El Aseel:


_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 2 April 2017 04:03 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

One of the best songs written for her in the 60s, Aqolak Eh An El Shouq:


_Rudipherous_, Monday, 22 May 2017 02:54 (three years ago) link

Longer than the standard recording, and I'm pretty sure it's from a different concert. Some of the ornamentation on the lead violin's lines in the beginning isn't there in this one, if I'm not mistaken. I should know for sure, but it's not something I've listened to all that recently.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 22 May 2017 02:56 (three years ago) link

Takes her accompaniment a long time to realize she is going to repeat the verses she just sang, rather than move on, at: 5:47. Maybe her kanunist missed a cue.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 22 May 2017 23:15 (three years ago) link

"Ela Arafat Allah," in a similar style as Nahj el Borda and Oulida al Hoda:


_Rudipherous_, Friday, 26 May 2017 00:26 (three years ago) link

Youtube is placing an add in the middle. Man, is that annoying. I am hoping that will go away if I play as embedded video.

_Rudipherous_, Friday, 26 May 2017 00:27 (three years ago) link

"Ela Arafat Allah" is so good.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 29 May 2017 16:21 (three years ago) link

Kinda bugs me, that with her deserved fame, her name is still "mother of Kalthoum". Her birthname, btw, is Fātimah ʾIbrāhīm as-Sayyid al-Biltāǧī.

it's just locker room treason (Sanpaku), Monday, 29 May 2017 16:36 (three years ago) link

I guess you know that Umm Kulthum was one of the companions of the Prophet, so it's got a certain cachet in that cultural context.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 29 May 2017 23:23 (three years ago) link

I don't know the history of how the subject of this thread ended up with that name though. I don't remember if I've ever read an explanation.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 29 May 2017 23:24 (three years ago) link

I can also see how the name's background doesn't necessarily make it any less annoying that her name is mother of somebody or other.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 30 May 2017 01:34 (three years ago) link

40s and 50s songs are generally so much better. There are a few exceptions, but really just a few as far as I'm concerned. *eating a handful of Ajwa dates*

I love that Spotify has a bunch of her "singles" in chronological order now. There are some difficult songs with difficult titles that I've always had trouble keeping track of. This helps.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 30 May 2017 03:57 (three years ago) link

I mean, a lot of the later material has fantastic and memorable melodies but the songs don't work as well as vehicles for her singing.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 30 May 2017 04:03 (three years ago) link

"taking a [vocal] line out for a walk"

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 10 June 2017 21:53 (three years ago) link

Another Saturday with El Sett, coming later, once I'm more awake.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 17 June 2017 16:31 (three years ago) link

If the single-digit humidity doesn't kill me.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 17 June 2017 16:34 (three years ago) link

I made an Oum Kalthoum playlist. Nothing special, just my favorite songs as available on Spotify. (There are some crucial, commercially available live recordings missing from Spotify.)


_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 25 June 2017 15:14 (three years ago) link

I actually feel guilty it's so short, but I was being very selective. I might add some later songs eventually. If they had a good live Hazihi Leylati. . . Or maybe if they had the studio Inta Omri. . . The beginning of Baid Anak is stunning, but I do think it goes on too long, with too many audience-demanded repetitions of sections that don't actually help.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 25 June 2017 15:19 (three years ago) link

five months pass...

I haven't watched this yet, but the introduction alone is mind-blowing. Nasser arrives with his security detail/entourage, at one point.


Domtek is either a great new channel or one I had missed previously.

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 3 December 2017 23:58 (three years ago) link

I don't really love Amal Hayati though.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 4 December 2017 00:22 (three years ago) link

A very fast-tempoed Howwa Sahih that I don't think I've heard before. Definitely have not seen before.


That's more like it.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 4 December 2017 02:26 (three years ago) link

(Abdel Wahab songs so overrated. Sorry to be a broken record.)

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 4 December 2017 02:29 (three years ago) link

I think Oum Kalthoum audiences might be my favorite audience. Another Nasser siting at the end of the video above, incidentally. Unfortunately, there's a glitch in the middle and the sound drops out.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 4 December 2017 18:11 (three years ago) link

Also, the seriousness of the announcers is great.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 4 December 2017 18:11 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

Howwa Sahih really has Zakariya Ahmed written all over it.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 6 January 2018 02:12 (three years ago) link

Patience has its limits, indeed.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 8 January 2018 23:30 (three years ago) link


Have we realized yet how perfect this is?

How do I feel a complaint? (_Rudipherous_), Saturday, 13 January 2018 17:40 (three years ago) link

five months pass...

Did not realize till the other night that there’s a song in the Tony Award winning musical, The Band’s Visit, called “”Oum Kulthum and Omar Sharif.” One of the stars of the show who sang it on the Tonys, gave a shoutout when she won an award, to the late Kulthum.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 13 June 2018 04:07 (two years ago) link

Anyone seen 'Looking for Oum Kulthum'? I wasn't that big of a fan, Shirin Neshat makes it into a meta-movie that is to a large part about herself, but the recreations of scenes from Kulthums career are really good.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 13 June 2018 11:51 (two years ago) link

Haven’t seen it.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 13 June 2018 15:26 (two years ago) link

nine months pass...

Hello Rudipherous and anyone else who can be of help.

I've got a note that I should start investigating Umm Kulthum at this point, but not sure where to start. What I need is a reasonably-sized (say 2CD) retrospective covering her whole recording career, and (very important!) dates of recording for each track. Does such a thing exist?

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Wednesday, 10 April 2019 12:42 (one year ago) link

I missed Frederik asking who else had seen the film, but I didn't like it very much either for the same meta reasons as he did. An actual biography would have been nice.

Elitist cheese photos (aldo), Wednesday, 10 April 2019 13:59 (one year ago) link

From what I remember, trying to find decent cds is a total crapshoot if not outright impossible not knowing arabic. I ended up buying MP3s and finding random downloads mostly for my collection, which by the time I gave up searching ran about 12-15 acceptable recordings which deliver the goods (and I think 3 of them I have on cd, all excellent, and all by the same label with colorful arabesque artwork and no liner notes or recording info.) I still listen to her sometimes, her work remains interesting over time. IMO the sweet spot is any given live recording from 1950s through maybe mid-60s that runs 30-50 minutes. That stuff is invariably sublime though also invariably lo fi. Later recordings from the 70s are slicker and sound really good and hi fi but are completely ruined for this somewhat discerning listener by goofy sounding harmonium and sometimes electric surf-guitar sounding oud (or some kind of twangy electric stringed non-guitar anyway). The surf-oud and harmonium isn't part of the sonic equation earlier thankfully!!! The mid-period (I guess) longform live stuff I dig is all violins/cellos and percussion, and thoroughly righteous.

Early period for me is the studio stuff, very short tunes for 45rpm of little interest, and later would be the gross harmonium live recordings.

liam fennell, Wednesday, 10 April 2019 17:01 (one year ago) link

Thanks for the tips Liam, and

my collection, which by the time I gave up searching ran about 12-15 acceptable recordings which deliver the goods
could I trouble you for a list of these? Just with whatever info you have?

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Wednesday, 10 April 2019 17:08 (one year ago) link

Sure, check back here in a day or so. If you want I'll try to email you all of them as onedrive links. They're all different tunes, each performance its own long mp3, and I think all essentially radio bootlegs anyway because that's how this stuff was originally disseminated.

I just searched Oum Kalthoum blog and re-found the first tune/download of hers I listened to extensively, Esal Rouhak, and the download link is still active somehow! It's a pretty awesome performance and tune, and the rest I treasure are along these lines, so give it a shot:


liam fennell, Thursday, 11 April 2019 12:15 (one year ago) link

That would be brilliant, thanks!

Checking this one out now - this - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umm_Kulthum#Selected_discography - says it's from 1970, which is very late indeed.

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Thursday, 11 April 2019 21:40 (one year ago) link

Listened to this last night, really good thanks, I didn't realise the length of the tracks was because each one was like an album and with so much drama and variety.

The previous thing I had was a 1924 recording which isn't really up to scratch, even for 1924, so good to get it now.

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Friday, 12 April 2019 09:30 (one year ago) link

Cool, you're welcome! Yeah, I guess that's what I mean by the goods; the songs when she was exclusively a live performer are all like miniature operas or something, long sonic tapestries that unfold and develop one or two simple ideas. There's always some really neat musical motives that gets put through a ton of variations and which she ornaments and illuminates with her voice. She's kind of a force of nature, really!

I just sent an email to the address connected to your profile with a onedrive download link to a folder with all the ones I have, including the later ones which I dislike solely because of some questionable instrumentation choices. As for the later ones, the tunes are still good, and the quality isn't hazy at all, it's very crisp/clear. You might dig them more than me, so!

liam fennell, Friday, 12 April 2019 12:51 (one year ago) link

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