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) link
― boxcubed (boxcubed), Sunday, 25 August 2002 00:51 (sixteen years ago) link
― DeRayMi, Sunday, 1 September 2002 15:13 (sixteen years ago) link
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) link
― DeRayMi, Sunday, 1 September 2002 17:58 (sixteen years ago) link
― Shady Amin, Thursday, 26 December 2002 08:45 (sixteen years ago) link
My two centsJan
― Jan Geerinck, Thursday, 26 December 2002 08:53 (sixteen years ago) link
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 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 16:51 (sixteen years ago) link
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 (sixteen years ago) link
― nabisco (nabisco), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:09 (sixteen years ago) link
What city do you live in, incidentally?
― Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:11 (sixteen years ago) link
(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 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:36 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:39 (sixteen years ago) link
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 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:45 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:47 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 17:52 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 18:53 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 19:41 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 19:56 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 20:02 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 26 December 2002 20:14 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 20:44 (sixteen years ago) link
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 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 21:08 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 21:14 (sixteen years ago) link
(I think Lata Mangeshkar is still numerically ahead.)
― rs, Thursday, 26 December 2002 21:14 (sixteen years ago) link
I should just get the book, shouldn't I.
― Amateurist (amateurist), Thursday, 26 December 2002 22:40 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Wednesday, 8 January 2003 03:32 (sixteen years ago) link
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 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Friday, 10 January 2003 18:00 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 11 January 2003 17:30 (sixteen years ago) link
― Shady Amin, Tuesday, 14 January 2003 23:32 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 15 January 2003 00:56 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 30 January 2003 16:53 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Friday, 31 January 2003 00:20 (sixteen years ago) link
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 (sixteen years ago) link
― Amateurist (amateurist), Friday, 31 January 2003 01:08 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Friday, 31 January 2003 01:14 (sixteen years ago) link
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 (sixteen years ago) link
*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 (sixteen years ago) link
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 (sixteen years ago) link
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 (sixteen years ago) link
― H (Heruy), Tuesday, 1 April 2003 08:03 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 1 April 2003 12:43 (sixteen years ago) link
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 (sixteen years ago) link
― JasonD (JasonD), Wednesday, 2 April 2003 01:46 (sixteen years ago) link
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 (sixteen 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 (two 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 (two 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 (two 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 (two years ago) link
"Ela Arafat Allah" is so good.
― _Rudipherous_, Monday, 29 May 2017 16:21 (two 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 (two 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 (two 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 (two 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 (two 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 (two 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 (two years ago) link
"taking a [vocal] line out for a walk"
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 10 June 2017 21:53 (two years ago) link
Another Saturday with El Sett, coming later, once I'm more awake.
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 17 June 2017 16:31 (two years ago) link
If the single-digit humidity doesn't kill me.
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 17 June 2017 16:34 (two 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 (two 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 (two years ago) link
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 (one year ago) link
I don't really love Amal Hayati though.
― _Rudipherous_, Monday, 4 December 2017 00:22 (one year 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 (one year ago) link
(Abdel Wahab songs so overrated. Sorry to be a broken record.)
― _Rudipherous_, Monday, 4 December 2017 02:29 (one year 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 (one year ago) link
Also, the seriousness of the announcers is great.
Howwa Sahih really has Zakariya Ahmed written all over it.
― _Rudipherous_, Saturday, 6 January 2018 02:12 (one year ago) link
Patience has its limits, indeed.
― _Rudipherous_, Monday, 8 January 2018 23:30 (one year ago) link
Have we realized yet how perfect this is?
― How do I feel a complaint? (_Rudipherous_), Saturday, 13 January 2018 17:40 (one year ago) link
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 (one year 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 (one year ago) link
Haven’t seen it.
― curmudgeon, Wednesday, 13 June 2018 15:26 (one year ago) link
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 (three months 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 (three months 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 (three months 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
― mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Wednesday, 10 April 2019 17:08 (three months 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 (three months 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 (three months 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 (three months 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 (three months ago) link