: 4 muwashshahat (4/4), final

21-05-2006, 10:52
The title of the thread promised four muwashshat, but since I "cheated" in episodes 2/3 by uploading a single record with two muwashshahat, I will try to amend this by uploading two versions of the same muwashshah : ya ghusna/u naqa.
Both recordings were *probably* made in Beirut, with Syrian artists.

The first version is sung by the amazing Sett Hasibeh Moshe of Beirut, a plump woman in her late thirties according to Gramophones photograph, and a famous singer of this town, where it seems that, as in Bagdad or Tunis at the same time, female musicians were mainly Jewish, unlike Cairo for instance where Moslem women were the majority of female entertainers. Sett Rahlo Jeradeh was another famous Jewish Syrian singer, also recorded by Gramophone in the pre-war era, and she was one of the teachers of Naima al-Masreyya who visited the levant before her career really started in the 1920s. Hasibeh Moshes repertory mainly consists of Egyptian taqatiq (3al gada3 el asmar, khallik 3ala 3omi ya mog el bahr, tedrabni leh), qudud (ya sah es sabr, qadduk al-mayyas, ya tera tiri), and Levantine folklore (abu z-zelof, dal3una, mijana), and it is quite undistinguishable from Egyptian Awalems except for the Levantine folklore. But she also recorded two dors : ana l-gharam (4 sides !) and el-fuad habbak (3 sides). I would eagerly consider giving up an arm to listen to those.

muwashshah / ya ghusnu naqa
Gramophone 3-13985
recorded Beirut circa 1908, distributed march 1909
Although Hasibeh is no grammarian (mukallalUN...), her fresh voice and fast ornamentation in adabi is very enjoyable.

The second version is sung by Muhammad al-Ashiq (Damascus circa 1885-1925 according to B. Moussali, perhaps based on Adham al-Jundi's "alaam al-adab wal-fann", Damascus 1954-58, which I do not own personnaly). A wonderful singer, his sense of invention is much more developped than Sett Hasibehs typically "awalmi" rendition (although the term almah was apparently not used in Bilad al-Sham). While singing the same verse "ya ghusna naqa", note his beautiful "naqaaaaaa" ending bayyati, and at 114-117? his move from gins higaz to gins bayyati if not saba, therefore shifting from huzam to bastanikar or 3iraq, then clearly choosing 3iraq 118-122, and moving it towards > bastanikar 122-125. Beautiful, and acclaimed by the audience. The whole idea of his rendition seems to be alternating huzam in the beginning of the melodic sentence with 3iraq and bastanikar in the second half, which adds some spice to this otherwise very basic muwashshah.
Very puzzling is the affected Egyptian accent (saGada, waGhuka). Was it a way to target the Egyptian market ? Or because this precise muwashshah was felt to be an Egyptian one, and as with Egyptian taqatiq and qasaid 3ala al-wahda, Egyptian /guim/ was felt necessary ? One really dreams of interviewing those guys to understand all this, to know why they did what they did, all those informations that are now completely lost, although a century has not yet passed on those recordings.
Both renditions have a takht in which the violin is played by Antun al-Shawwa, Samis father. But what is this metallic instrument in the takht ? A strange ud or could it be what a buzuq sounds like, when recorded in a 78 rpm ? Waiting for your opinions...

muwashshah / al-ghusnu idha raaka (= ya ghusna naqa)
Gramophone 5-12567, circa 1909.
/ =

21-05-2006, 13:22
No, Fred, you're not cheating. What a pity, though, comes that not all the 4 or 5 muwashshahs are interpreted by Safti. I know I used to give him much more credit than you do, but I do think the difference is remarkable.
Concerning these two versions of ya ghusn, I prefer the one by Al-'ashiq - his bayati "tainting" of the second 'in kuntu 'asa'tu is unprecedented and lovely. A certain "old shami style" is perceptible in both versions as well as in other recordings of 'ashiq (saluha limadha) 'ahmad Ash-sheekh and Mahiddin Ba'yun. I'm tempted to qualify it as harsher or less "polished" than the Egyptian style. Maybe is this due to diverse stages in development of urban civilisation. Such harshness is for my ear, too much "polluted" by Egyptian style renditions, simply unbearable in the case of Hasibeh. And I'm all the more irritated by that stupid five notes leitmotiv served by the takht as lazma after each verse. Last, to conclude on a more positive note, I agree, her ornamentation on 'adabi is indeed delightful in the same vain as that bayati of Al-'ashiq.

22-05-2006, 13:12
I loved the 3ashek version more than the Hasibah one though her voice has got some fantastic features.

I loved 3ashek's kabidaaaaa at 0'40.

The instrument (listening here to 3ashek - 0'48) sounds like a santour (though I'm fully aware that Santour doesn't do quarter notes).

The guy says ya "3oud we 3awwad" in the beginning so there is a 3oud, there is a violin. There is a Qanun but hardly audible.

I don't think it's the same set of instruments for both recordings by the way. The Qanun and violin are quite dominant in the Hasibah recording.