: El bolbol gani we qalli 2/2

01-06-2006, 21:09
The last Bulbul is not a long one : a mere 914, three sides recorded by Abd al-Hayy Afandi Hilmi on 27cm records for Zonophone in 1906 (hence the average sound quality). Ibrahim Sahlun opens the feast with a sentence in maqam rast, amusingly translated by Abd al-Hayy as ya lel, a reversal of the usual game between singer and instrumentist. The dulab is clearly in maqam suznak, as the madhhab of the dor in Abd al-Hayys version. Notice Abd al-Hayys way of starting vocal sentences after the dum : al-bol/bol start on the dum but then we have dum-gaaaa dum-niiiii we-, and then qal- is on the dum. Same game again with mah (esmah), -laaaak (waslak), etc.
Notice also during the whole madhhab how the madhhabgeyya maintain the formal rythm of the piece, while the mutrib often starts later. Of course, the primitive technique of 78rpm recording places the mutribs voice much more above the other voices than what was actually heard in a concert, for he was the only one singing in the horn, so it would be inaccurate to classify Abd al-Hayy as a singer disrespectful of rythm, he does it because he can afford it.
The way Hilmi characterizes the sudden shift to rast at 140 is wonderful and rightly deserves the takht members Allah.
Now, how will I ever be able to convince Abu Ala that this discontinuity is as wonderful as continuity ? See, Manyalawis version makes me laugh and dance and brings a ray on spring sun on rainy Paris. Hilmis version is sure to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, Hilmi will hardly sing a third of the composed matter. He will not even consider the sika section (just a stop, not even a qafla, at 512),. And yet, I cannot find his version inferior to Shaykh Yusufs, to me they are the two unseparable renditions of the Bulbul, the two sisters, the clever one and the tragic one.
The second side starts at 300, with the suznak section. The way Hilmi joins the leh and ya hamam I find sublime 330-35. Quintessential Hilmian qafla at 449, deserving this Ya 3admi. At the end of the 5th minute, tragedia begins. Ya haltara ter, terga3 el awtan, this hesitation with ter and the long intricate qafla ending at 542 tell me something is happening, like posession, like total saltanah. Allah akbar.
Last side begins at 609, and in my taste, these are three historical minutes of Arabic music starting here. The first hal-Tara proves that it is not necessary to sing a long sentence to touch right. I am absolutely sure Umm Kulthum knew this record, and remembered it, used this economy of means when singing Gaddedt Hobbak Leh and its yaaaaaa-haltara sentence. Yes Abu Ala, he cuts the words in little parts here, terga3elaw / taan. Walla ne3ish el 3omr gharayeb, in the nayruz section, at 652 is a wonderful qafla. Ya salam ya gada3.
Im even wondering if he is singing cairene mahabba at 725, or mahabbeh, his Bani Suwayf accent taking the lead? Hint at saba at 730, the vibrato on leeeeh and za3laaan makes me shiver, wonderful ornaments on mashghul bel mahabba/eh, and then the summit, the Za3lan leh section, in which he will not even allow hank, hes got so much on his heart, 805 > 814 is THE moment of grace, something comparable to this moment on the first side of El Awwela fel gharam when UKs voice breaks in ya 3en.
Is there anything to add ? La messe est dite. Ah and qafla. Sahlun concludes as he started.

Zonophone Z102548/49/50, recorded Cairo 1906.


01-06-2006, 23:03
I can hardly disagree with you, Frdric, and I trust so much your sensitivity in appreciating these pieces. There's only one person I trust as much for sensing classical Arab music things and that's my old friend qanuni Najib El-gharbi (nothing to do with that other Tunisian qanuni Hassen El-gharbi. The latter is the famous one among the two, but I prefer Najib's style!). Great rendition indeed! Yet, if I were to choose among the two, I would choose Manyalawi's.:)
You practically said everything I could never have censed about this performance. I'll just underline a few of your observations to which I fully concur. First, chapeau for spotting that sikah furtive hint, the only one! (this is comparable to your remark concerning kurd around min. 6 in Manyalawi's performance. I'm sincerely impressed.). 'abdi-l-hay fouls the rythm all the time, not only in the madhhab. This is one of his remarkable charactaristics you referred at on several occasions. And here again, your sense of observation is infallible. And, yes, that gharayib around min. 6' 50" is breathtaking!
As for ya hal tara, I would go a step further and sayn , not only 'um kalthum but Sunbati himself must have thought of this one in composing his own ya hal tara in Gaddidti hubbak.
One last comment, the more I listen to recordings of this gentelman the more I tend to think he had the most beautiful voice ever among the ones we've known. I'm talking here of the voice texture, nothing else and the closest one to this top quality in my view is that of.... 'ali Al-harith.

02-06-2006, 11:31
Of course Fred at 1'40 you mean that we have a double rast occuring.

In the beginning we started on Suznak which comprises a rast on Do (Rast note) and at 1'40 he produced another transposed Rast on Fa (Chargah).

Which is absoulte mastery no doubt, and deserves a big aaah.

Now Abu Ala and Frederic, yes he starts a sikah attack from 5'07 -> 5'11 and the musicians keep repeating the sikah note from 5'11 -> 5'14, but then they all move to do a Nikriz gins (or neva eser gins in Arabic) on chargah Fa until the end of the side in the "ya hal tarah".

Can you see this?

This time, unlike the manyalawi recording (singer's qaflah on chargah, and qanuni keeps pulling up to neva), Hilmi is not duelling with the musicians. They all repose their qaflahs on Chargah.