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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Holy moly.

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

She's approaching Lata Mangeshkar status there.

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

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

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

Where do you live?

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

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

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

Actually a thread on oudists would be a good idea.

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

You can always go here to just listen.

Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:30 (sixteen 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 (sixteen 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 (sixteen 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 (sixteen 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 (one year ago) link

Haven’t seen it.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 13 June 2018 15:26 (one year 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 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven 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
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 (seven 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:

http://www.eatbees.com/blog/2006/12/02/esal-rouhak/

liam fennell, Thursday, 11 April 2019 12:15 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven months ago) link


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