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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

You knew it had to come sooner or later.

DeRayMi, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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

Josh, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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

Lynskey, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

(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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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

Paul Eater, Friday, 16 August 2002 00:00 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

thank you so very much!

boxcubed (boxcubed), Sunday, 25 August 2002 00:51 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (sixteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I just bought Nouar by Cheikha Remitti

My two cents

Jan Geerinck, Thursday, 26 December 2002 08:53 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 16:51 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

(Amateurist: yes.)

nabisco (nabisco), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:09 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

(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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Give the secret hand signal.

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:36 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:39 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:45 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I will wait patiently for the Oum Kalthoum ASCII image.

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:47 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Holy moly.

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 21:08 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

She's approaching Lata Mangeshkar status there.

Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 21:14 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Woo Hoo!

curmudgeon, Friday, 13 January 2017 18:23 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

This is fantastic.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 14 January 2017 21:18 (one year ago) Permalink



_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 14 January 2017 21:39 (one year ago) Permalink


_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 14 January 2017 21:40 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

Good entry point for fans of early electronic music.

_Rudipherous_, Tuesday, 17 January 2017 05:44 (one year ago) Permalink

ولد الهدى Woleda el Hoda (Oulida el Hoda)



_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 22 January 2017 00:20 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

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


_Rudipherous_, Thursday, 23 February 2017 03:56 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

one month passes...

A very strong Shams El Aseel:


_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 2 April 2017 04:03 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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


_Rudipherous_, Friday, 26 May 2017 00:26 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

"Ela Arafat Allah" is so good.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 29 May 2017 16:21 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

"taking a [vocal] line out for a walk"

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 10 June 2017 21:53 (one year ago) Permalink

Another Saturday with El Sett, coming later, once I'm more awake.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 17 June 2017 16:31 (one year ago) Permalink

If the single-digit humidity doesn't kill me.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 17 June 2017 16:34 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (one year ago) Permalink

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 (ten months ago) Permalink

I don't really love Amal Hayati though.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 4 December 2017 00:22 (ten months ago) Permalink

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 (ten months ago) Permalink

(Abdel Wahab songs so overrated. Sorry to be a broken record.)

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 4 December 2017 02:29 (ten months ago) Permalink

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 (ten months ago) Permalink

Also, the seriousness of the announcers is great.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 4 December 2017 18:11 (ten months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Howwa Sahih really has Zakariya Ahmed written all over it.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 6 January 2018 02:12 (nine months ago) Permalink

Patience has its limits, indeed.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 8 January 2018 23:30 (nine months ago) Permalink


Have we realized yet how perfect this is?

How do I feel a complaint? (_Rudipherous_), Saturday, 13 January 2018 17:40 (nine months ago) Permalink

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 (four months ago) Permalink

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 (four months ago) Permalink

Haven’t seen it.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 13 June 2018 15:26 (four months ago) Permalink

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