― Rockist Scientist, Friday, 4 April 2003 12:19 (sixteen years ago) link
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
― Rockist Scientist, Friday, 4 April 2003 23:36 (sixteen years ago) link
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
― Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 5 April 2003 12:23 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 5 April 2003 12:30 (sixteen years ago) link
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
― Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 5 April 2003 18:31 (sixteen years ago) link
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
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
― robin (robin), Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:21 (sixteen years ago) link
― robin (robin), Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:24 (sixteen years ago) link
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
― Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:28 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:30 (sixteen years ago) link
― robin (robin), Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:36 (sixteen years ago) link
― robin (robin), Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:37 (sixteen years ago) link
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
― robin (robin), Thursday, 15 May 2003 23:51 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 May 2003 00:00 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 May 2003 00:01 (sixteen years ago) link
― adam (adam), Friday, 16 May 2003 02:31 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 May 2003 12:27 (sixteen years ago) link
Volume 1 1. Azkouriny 33:37 2. Salo kaos al fella 31:13
Volume 21. Hadeeth al rouh 26:23 2. Ghareb ala bab el raga 22:26
Volume 31. Woleda el hoda 56:54
Volume 41. Gadet hobak leih 39:18
Volume 51. Al nile 27:04 2. Nagh el borda 22:56
― H (Heruy), Friday, 16 May 2003 13:24 (sixteen years ago) link
Salo kaos al fellaWoleda el hodaNagh el borda
Judging by the track lengths, it looks like the box set versions of the latter two would be live recordings. I have only heard the studio recordings of these songs. They should still be good. For a long time I didn't like these two songs though. The melodies are very counterintuitive from a western point of view, and possibly even from an Arab point of view, since these were considered difficult songs at the time.
I am not sure I've heard the others, though I suspect they would be good. They seem to all be from around the 40's.
It's possible that more recent, individual, recordings of these songs would have better sound quality, but these are pretty old recordings to begin with.
― Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 May 2003 13:43 (sixteen years ago) link
― robin (robin), Friday, 16 May 2003 14:26 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 May 2003 14:33 (sixteen years ago) link
― najib ibn khayat, Monday, 28 July 2003 20:27 (sixteen years ago) link
― amateurist (amateurist), Monday, 28 July 2003 20:31 (sixteen years ago) link
[the record is WAY better than the REALLY LAME Fairuz record I bought; I am no worrying that Fairuz is actually rubbish, and the good record I have by her is an aberration]
― DV (dirtyvicar), Sunday, 3 August 2003 22:39 (sixteen years ago) link
What I think about Fairuz is that she is a great singer, but doesn't have the best judgment about what material to use. Basically anything from the 80's forward is iffy. But the styles in which she works are extremely varied. But I bet there is more than one CD worth material by her that you would like. I can't be as helpful with her, since I don't know her nearly as well as I know Kalthoum. (Of course, that unevenness is partly why I don't know her work as well.) What Fairuz did you get? Have you heard Soiree Avec Fairuz? The sound quality is really poor, but the music is quite good. That's cheating a little since it's more classical than most of her work.
― Al Andalous, Sunday, 3 August 2003 23:57 (sixteen years ago) link
― Al Andalous, Monday, 4 August 2003 01:44 (sixteen years ago) link
― DV (dirtyvicar), Monday, 4 August 2003 10:17 (sixteen years ago) link
― Al Andalous, Monday, 4 August 2003 12:01 (sixteen years ago) link
― DV (dirtyvicar), Monday, 4 August 2003 13:33 (sixteen years ago) link
In his chapter on the specifically musical aspects of this music, he introduces the term "heterophony" (which was new to me): "As a cultivated form of artistry, heterophonic interplay is a primary feature of takht [small ensemble] music. In practice, heterophonic texture exists in two closely related formats, an overlapping type and a simultaneous type. The first occurs when a leading music part, typically a vocal improvisation, is accompanied, for example, by an instrument such as the qanun. In this case, the accompaniment 'echoes' the leading part at a slightly delayed pace, or in a rather 'out of sync' fashion. The second type applies mostly when ensemble members produce slightly varied renditions of the same musical material at the same time. This happens when takht instruments perform the same basic compositions together, but with each one rendering it differently through subtle variations, omissions, ornamental nuances, syncopations, anticipations, and so on. . . . [I]n Umm Kulthum's live recordings from the 1940s and 1950s. . . [i]n certain middle sections. . . heterophonic activity becomes particularly prominent, a suspenseful and musically focused mood engulfs and audibly moves the singer's avid admirers." Racy also comments on how heterophony has become less common in Arab music, due at least partly to the fact that it became more difficult as the takht grew into a small orchestra with an entire string section.
"Tarab artists demonstrate a striking proclivity toward moving loosely with the beat, as comparedto performing strictly on the beat, for wandering about without losing track of the underlying temporal structure. They seek a desirable balance between metric orderliness and rhythmic freedom. . ." Racy discusses this in more technical detail, but it's hard for me to excerpt or summarize, since I'm still getting a handle on it.
It's sad to me that while improvisation was making a come-back in the west, via jazz (primarily), Arab music was moving away from it, in emulation of western classical music.
Incidentally, Racy makes clear the respect in which Fairouz is a break from the tarab oriented tradition: "Meanwhile, increasingly transformed and internally varied, the musical mainstream had to vie with more recent and more novel-sounding musical expressions. One example was a Lebanese urban popular style which, pioneered in the late 1950's by the Rahbani Brothers and associated with the celebrated female vocalist Fayruz, dervied elements from the local folk repertoire, Western music, and traditional Arab music."
― Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 18 November 2003 04:29 (sixteen years ago) link
For example, I read--SOMEWHERE, but I can't put my hands on it--a quote from Oum Kalthoum criticizing her 40s-50s work for being too exclusively concerned with tarab, and not putting enough emphasis on putting across the text (which was very important to her). While I suspect this might partly be a matter of denial on her part that her best years were behind her, I also think there is a certain amount of Arab suspicion of tarab (which is most commonly translate as "ecstasy" but doesn't have an exact English equivalent), and not just among fundamentalists. The Lebanese composer, Marcel Khalife (a Christian, incidentally), expresses misgivings of music which gives itself over so completely to emotion, and has actively sought to keep a balance with more intellect involved. I wish Racy would write something about this, since when I write, it's largely a matter of wild speculation based on a few pieces of information.
― Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 18 November 2003 05:00 (sixteen years ago) link
― amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 18 November 2003 22:06 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 18 November 2003 23:58 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 19 November 2003 00:21 (sixteen years ago) link
I'm listening to these mp3s. I like "el ward" and "gharidou" better than the first three.
― Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 19 November 2003 02:04 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 19 November 2003 02:19 (sixteen years ago) link
Check out "A Voice Like Egypt," a film about Umm Kulthum based on Virginia Danielson's research.
― fatima, Wednesday, 19 November 2003 02:32 (sixteen years ago) link
(Do the MP3s on that page add up to enough to make a CD? Not that I would know how to do this.)
― amateur!st (amateurist), Wednesday, 19 November 2003 10:02 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Wednesday, 19 November 2003 13:00 (sixteen years ago) link
Now let's see if I can figure out how to copy them onto a CD, because I'm just borrowing this computer for a moment.
― amateur!st (amateurist), Wednesday, 19 November 2003 13:32 (sixteen years ago) link
I met Laur Daccache in Egypt about seven years ago, I was invited to the Woman's league of Egypt, which was headed by a friend of mine and Mrs. Hosni Mubbarak, and the people said to me, they heard that Laur Dacashe was a singer but she had no records or tapes available in Egypt, so they had to rely on my word that she was a great vocalist in the early 1950's[.] It was strange to have to vouch for a great singer like her, Today finding her songs on Cd are rare indeed, like her big song Amanti Bellah (I believe God).
― Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 13 December 2003 23:24 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Saturday, 13 December 2003 23:27 (sixteen years ago) link
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Saturday, 13 December 2003 23:42 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rockist Scientist, Sunday, 14 December 2003 07:39 (sixteen years ago) link