Arabic music is influenced by a history of conquest
and contact with numerous countries including but not
limited to Greece, Medieval Europe and Turkey. Elements of
Arabic music can also be found in non-Arabic countries. A
few common characteristics are the connection between music
and poetry, and the use of
maqamat. In Arabic music, a maqam (plural maqamat) is a
set of notes. The nearest equivalent in Western classical
music would be a mode.
Traditional instruments include:
For extensive information on all these
Two of Nidali's favorite singers are Umm Kulthoum and Fairuz, women renowned throughout the Arabic world.
Umm Kulthoum (1904-1975), born of humble origins, was an actress, musician, singer and public figure whose career would be as entwined with her native Egypt as Edith Piaf's was with France. Her songs often encompassed Arabic poetry, working class themes and love and were widely broadcast on the radio.
Fairuz (sometimes spelled Fayrouz or Fairouz) was born in 1935 as Nouhad Haddad. She is a Lebanese singer and actress who rose to prominence in the 1960's and '70s and has received international acclaim. Her collaborations with the Rahmani brothers, a composer and lyricist, represented some of the most popular songs of the time. According to the Encyclopedia of World Biography, she sang "of love and the simple life, of love of country, and of the longing for a lost Jerusalem; she sang old bedouin chants and obscure shepherd's songs; she brought back the muashahat, a musical form first heard in the gardens of Andalusia; she interpreted the quasida and the nashid, two highly structured lyrical verse forms and, with equal success, the improvisational vocal expressions known as the mawal and meyjana." View her singing at YouTube.
This article was originally published in October 2008, and has been updated for the
August 2009 paperback release.
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