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مشاهدة جميع الاصدارات : On what is known as Historically-Informed Performance (HIP)



Bassio
09-10-2011, 15:56
Reflecting on the recent news about the new Manyalawi release in the other thread:

Although this "scholarly" documentation of our classic music is important for the restoration and digitization of this music using the latest sound restoration techniques to protect it from extinction. However, one should always keep an eye on the long-term goal. How can these restored masterpieces, now done through a professional and scholarly institution (which I hope sustains to do so in the future), guide our future interpretations of this music. Since until now, the way I see it, modern performances are mere "bastardized" versions of going through the notes. (except perhaps for some exceptions)

The Historically Informed Performance (HIP) is a movement that started in the 60s with Western Classical music and aims at "authentic" musical reproduction of the piece as it was heard by the original composer/performer. This includes all aspects of performance: instruments/tempos/orchestra size etc.

Compare these two examples of Vivaldi's Spring:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUf5v0VySw0 historically non-informed
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDwKuaK_KsE historically informed

And now compare these two versions of Kadny el hawa:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJwndS8nX-k historically non-informed

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFNA34jJoOs #original performer
Edit: forum link Manyalawi version http://www.zamanalwasl.net/forums/showthread.php?1364-Kadni-l-Hawa-by-Shaykh-Yusuf-al-Manyalawi&p=8296#post8296
Compare both versions of Kadny el Hawa with regards:
1) instruments
2) size of orchestra
3) number of mazhabgiya
4) tempo
5) manner of singing etc

You'll find we have already wasted the true authentic spirit of the original performer.

And this is Abbas el beleidy's version (who is not so bad), not to mention other freakishly distorted interpretations like turath and arabic music group etc.

The Arabic equivalent of the concept of HIP and how to reinsert it back into live performance should be a subject of future research. Since the way I see it, Arabic musicologists and musicians are still 50 years behind in this regard (except for the few exceptions of course).

Bassio
09-10-2011, 16:02
Merged posts abovve

أبو علاء
10-10-2011, 06:52
Welcome back Bassio!
A couple of quick technical remarks, first. Concerning the blurring of the Arabic portion of your post, it has probably to do with the encoding used on your browser. The other thing concerns the external links. You know that we don't favour them, especially when they are numerous. You could use the links in the attachment manager to upload the pieces when necessary, and when the piece is known enough or already posted in forum, simply mention it or sof link it in the latter case. (Please edit your posts and I will then merge them in one)
This said, without knowing what this HIP, is exactly, I have the impression that this is something that is misplaced when talking about Arab classical music or, at least, it can only be applied mutatis mutandis. It is neither needed nor recommended to try and reproduce a , carbon copy of say a Manyalawi performance. This would be contrary to the very aesthetics of the nahdha music. Suffice it to respect the spirit of that aesthetics/performance, hence retaining the principle of reduced ensemble (takht), the wasla as basic unit and the exploratory/improvisatory approach.

Bassio
10-10-2011, 18:17
Abu-Alaa I use the Firefox browser. It is very much widespread and shouldn't be a problem with forum software.

Anyway, I will continue to post in English. The links are only to youtube videos, not recordings, since it would be a bit misplaced to upload Vivaldi performances on the forum for the sake of comparison.


This said, without knowing what this HIP, is exactly, I have the impression that this is something that is misplaced when talking about Arab classical music or, at least, it can only be applied mutatis mutandis. It is neither needed nor recommended to try and reproduce a , carbon copy of say a Manyalawi performance. This would be contrary to the very aesthetics of the nahdha music. Suffice it to respect the spirit of that aesthetics/performance, hence retaining the principle of reduced ensemble (takht), the wasla as basic unit and the exploratory/improvisatory approach.

Although you claim you do not know what HIP is, but what you state above is exactly the ultimate aim of HIP. The aim of HIP is to restore the authentic "performance practice" of the era (notice the important word "performance practice").

And in the essence of Nahda music, let us discuss how we would correctly implement HIP (you obviously stated the most important ones).
1) Improvisation as a core performance practice of the Nahda era
2) A return to the reduced original instrumentation and size of the "Takht"
3) Studying the Nahda recordings in order to decide on the correct number of Mazhabgiyya
4) The actual singing/tempo/rhythm practices etc.
5) Concerts should more or less take the form of the classic Wasla (if this was actually the form of concerts back then)

You see, in this way, the goal of HIP is not to reproduces carbon copies of performances, on the contrary. For example, modern HIP recordings of Baroque music contain improvisations, since research found that during the Baroque times, improvisation was a regular performance practice of that period (as well as Cadenzas in other periods). And from here, they came to shun performances that follow the score note-by-note and, instead, encourage the return to improvisation in performance.

In that respect, I also have something to add about speed/tempo of performance (for example, when comparing Abdelwahab vs Abulila Mohamed), but I have to go now, so will do that later.

If anyone still hasn't grasped the goal of HIP from these posts, then I could explain/elaborate more on the subject later, with examples.

Bassio
17-10-2011, 14:25
An important part of performance practice is tempo and rhythm. In Western Music, this is a problem, for back then (Baroque period), metronomes were not yet invented.

The 20th century performance was generally marked by a general state in excessiveness and slow tempi. However, this has changed with HIP. Recent trends in HIP tend towards faster performances and energetic tempos.

In our case, this is different, for we actually have recordings for artists who lived the Golden age of Nahda music (albeit towards the end of their lives). And hence we have living evidence of how they perform these works.

Confusingly, the performance of the old masters in that regard differs completely from the ways of later generations.

An example is comparing the general tempi of Qasidas (or Dors). Mohamed Abdelwahab Alamouh Kayfa Yagfoo is a fine Qasida which might as well be improved by a faster tempo, to get the rhythmic drive found in Abulila's Qasaed interpretations.

I attach a sped up version to make it shorter by one minute as an extreme example, so that you can feel how a slight difference in tempo can change how a piece sounds, to be compared with the original recording.

We can also compare a qasida like "Amanan Ayuhal Qamar" in performances by Abulila Mohamed and Um Kulthum. One might notice, that in UK's version, less care is given to the rhythmic drive, in total contrast to the composer's performance, which is strengthened constantly throughout by instruments emphasizing the base rhythm and a slightly faster tempo.

You might agree with me (or not) that there was a general tendency towards slower performances with the later generation.

Here comes the role of Musicologists to study such a phenomenon. For it could, for example, that this is how pieces were originally played during the Nahda era (Beleidy style), but recorded performers, due to the constraints of the 78rpm, had to speed up their performances to match the size of the discs. This means they also performed slower in live performances, and once they were given the freedom for longer performances on disc (as technology progressed), they returned to the original way of performing.

Although I am against the above hypothesis, but I am just discussing potential issues that should be investigated by someone who really wants to study the performance characteristics during that time and how they can be revived.

أبو علاء
17-10-2011, 17:58
Another factor to be taken into account is the real apeed of the performance during the recording session as opposed to the output speed when the record is played. Don't forget there's most of the time a more or less important distortion at that level and all we can do now is to try and get the sclosest possible to "natutral" speed, this latter notion remaining an approximate one as previously discussed with AmrB.

Bassio
22-10-2011, 17:59
Another factor to be taken into account is the real apeed of the performance during the recording session as opposed to the output speed when the record is played. Don't forget there's most of the time a more or less important distortion at that level and all we can do now is to try and get the sclosest possible to "natutral" speed, this latter notion remaining an approximate one as previously discussed with AmrB.


What Abu-alaa refers to is in fact very important, considering that they are now undergoing this huge magnanmious task of restoring the turath acc. to latest research and technology.

Now consider this: if Arabic music has no notion of perfect pitch, as in all pitches are relative to one another with no reference note, then of course the final speed of a recording will remain approximate. (is this the case Abu-Alaa?)

What do you think are the proposed solutions for this problem, to be able to determine the correct speed/pitch of the recordings as accurately as possible?

Also another question: does this problem exist only for non-electrical discs or for both electrical and non-electrical ones?

أبو علاء
22-10-2011, 19:46
What do you think are the proposed solutions for this problem, to be able to determine the correct speed/pitch of the recordings as accurately as possible?

Also another question: does this problem exist only for non-electrical discs or for both electrical and non-electrical ones?

I'm not qualified to answer the second question. This s not false modesty; I really am not because I don't have sufficient knowledge and experience of 78 rpm records/ As for the first one; several criteria can be used to get the closest possible to the "perfect pitch" as you call it, one of them being the comparison of various recordings of the same artist, another one is the comparison of several interpretations of the same pieces by various artists and a third one is a close study of the instruments used, their scales and the playing technques used in each case.

Bassio
28-11-2011, 14:20
An additional comparison of HIP:

Today I ask you to examine two Nahda performers, but in two post-Nahda recordings.

These performers are considered by myself, in their mode of singing, the pinnacle of historically-informed performance, even after the end of the Nahda times.

The first performance by Daoud Husni
http://www.zamanalwasl.net/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=11745&d=1270760322

The second performance by Zakaria Ahmed
http://www.zamanalwasl.net/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=1956&d=1143558454

Notice that these are late recordings and were not recorded during the Nahda recordings era. I always like their way of singing and their chosen more or less appropriate Tempi (not too slow as Abdelwahab or Um Kulthum or other same era artists, even some very late Safti).

Difference 1:
Notice that the Zakaria Ahmed recording the mazhabgiya is a chorus (more than 2 I believe), while Daoud Husni uses 1 mazhabgy (or 2?). Now if we consider the chorus as an alien introduction to the original takht through Western influence, therefore, in this regard, Daoud Husni recording should be considered the more historically-informed.

Difference 2: Instrumentation
Zakaria's recording uses the full takht. Daoud Husni's uses only a qanun, in the few? instances of a mono-instrument Dawr recording. (any info here?)

(We have to notice the setting of Husni's recording (Cairo congress, to save turath from dispersion) might have influenced the instrumentation used, since this was not a proper commercial recording.)

Who is more historically-informed here? Who knows? Zakaria's recording might be more proper, however I find Husni's aesthetics also not compromising, since we have many Dors performed only on a qanun + violin (with the 'Ud drowned in the background), so this minimalist concept is preserved, given Husni's excellent tarabic style.

To clarify: Again these examples are not a call to an absolutist/purist stance to the music by developing rigid fascist rules (for example here Husni's mono-instrument recording might be better than a full takht recording of another performer of the same composition), but only help guide us recover the lost aesthetics of the Nahda era in contemporary performances, which were distorted by Western influence.

Other examples will pop as I listen to these gems. It will also be interesting to critique recordings of contemporary artists singing turath on these bases.

أبو علاء
28-11-2011, 15:26
Bassio, you cannot place Dawud Husni outside the nahdha realm, even though the recordings you're talking about were made relatively late (1932) because his compositions were an integral part of it. Remember the man was born in 1873 and his 'adwar were being interpreted by Hilmi and Manyalawi and maybe even Hamuli towards the turn of the century. I would even hesitate to situate Zakariya himself outside that realm. In fact, a chronological delimitation , be it rough, is hardly relevant to distinguish the nahdha school production. I prefer by far a "phenomenological" one that would be based rather on the constitutive elements of that school, that is the wasla as a basic framework of performance, the set of established genres (muwashshah, mawwal, dawr, qasida), orality (the music is not written, not fixed and is orally transmitted through companionship), the openness and evolving character of the pieces (there is no such a thing as individual intellectual property rights on them nor a clear distinction of roles and division of labour between "composers" and "interprters")... and even these characteristics are to be dealt with carefully. If they were to be taken as a rigid set of conditions to be met by any piece to be considered as part of the nahdha repertoire, then we should exclude all the material recorded on 78 rpm records simply because those recordings have not upheld the wasla principle and we should exclude a great deal of Dawud Husni and 'ibrahim Al-qabbani 'adwar that were commissioned by Gramophone and assigned to a single interpreter such as Safti or Zaki Murad...
Concerning the instrumentation (and chorus ) question, I don't think it was Dawud Husni's choice to have his performance accompanied by one musician and one mahdhabgi (by the way, it's the same person, Musafa Ridha, who played both roles) and all the less a choice motivated by aesthetic considerations, but rather that of the Congress organisers who probably wanted to preserve the pieces in a sort of a "raw" format devoid of any "superfluous" ornamentation, a choice diametrically opposed to the essence of nahdha music. Not only is this option evidentiated by the fact that all the other recordings made for the Congress by Muhammad Nagib ('adwar) and by Darwish Al-hariri (muwashshahs) were performed in the same vein (accompanied by Mustafa bek Ridha as qanungi and madhhabgi in the same time), but also by the observation of the same parcimony in the interpretation and the very choice of the interpreters from the point of view of vocal capacities, the least appropriate to come out with any "tarbic" performance, when confirmed nahdha interpreters such as Saft, Zaki Murad and 'ali Al-harith were still around and Salih 'abdi-l-hay has been performing and recording 'adwar, mawawil and qasa'id for no less than ten years! I remember myself and others saying, would the Congress recordings have been the only samples to reach us from the nahdha repertoire, we would have never resisted more than a few minutes of listening and we would have never cared to know more about this repertoire, let alone strive to collect it, preserve it, document it and disseminate it.

jenni
28-11-2011, 15:58
Very interesting discussion!!

I have a couple of questions (as usual)

1. what is "mahdhabgi"? From the context I'm guessing it is an instrument?

2. Is the "HIP" provided by Bassio, of the original performer, and/or the Daoud Hosni/z. ahmad recordings, "congress recordings"? How do I distinguish, when looking at the 78rpm era, which are 'congress recordings' as from reading the above statement, apparently this is an important thing to be aware of...?

fredlag@noos.fr
28-11-2011, 16:22
A Madhhabgi is a chorist, whether an instrumentalist of the takht who can sing or a singer in training or a professional vocalist ready to help another vocalist. It is formed of madhhab (refrain) + suffix -gi indicating an occupation. In the religious repertoire, the term used is usually "betana", not for a singular chorist but for the whole vocal ensemble seconding the lead vocalist/cantor.

أبو علاء
28-11-2011, 17:26
I have a couple of questions (as usual)

1. what is "mahdhabgi"? From the context I'm guessing it is an instrument?

2. Is the "HIP" provided by Bassio, of the original performer, and/or the Daoud Hosni/z. ahmad recordings, "congress recordings"? How do I distinguish, when looking at the 78rpm era, which are 'congress recordings' as from reading the above statement, apparently this is an important thing to be aware of...?

Ok, I see Fred has already answered the first question while I was looking for the post in which I mentioned the same thing (I think it was when explaining what a couple of genres are, notably taqtuqa and dawr...edit: here (http://www.zamanalwasl.net/forums/showthread.php?4866-Question-about-vocal-genres)). As for the second question, Bassio has first to review his assertions in view of what I wrote above and no, Congress recordings are not important at all neither quantitatively nor qualitatively (as far as the Egyptian nahdha repertoire is concerned, they are limited to the three performers I mentioned, namely Dawud Husni, Muhammad Nagib and Darwish Al-hariri). I guess part of my comment above is not clear enough for you because you're not familiar with a certain number of concepts and details relating to the nahdha music. But, the "theoretical" knowldege can wait. What matters most at this juncture is listening.

jenni
28-11-2011, 17:34
Ok, I see Fred has already answered the first question while I was looking for the post in which I mentioned the same thing (I think it was when explaining what a couple of genres are, notably taqtuqa and dawr...). As for the second question, Bassio has first to review his assertions in view of what I wrote above and no, Congress recordings are not important at all neither quantitatively nor qualitatively (as far as the Egyptian nahdha repertoire is concerned, they are limited to the three performers I mentioned, namely Dawud Husni, Muhammad Nagib and Darwish Al-hariri). I guess part of my comment above is not clear enough for you because you're not familiar with a certain number of concepts and details relating to the nahdha music. But, the "theoretical" knowldege can wait. What matters most at this juncture is listening.




Ah yes... I should have gotten that - I previously asked what "madhha" was, if it could be likened to the "chorus" (or as fred has said better, is the refrain.)
Okay, I am happy listening. (I'm so excited about discovering "nahdha" music most recently, but I know I must not be too eager to understand everything all at once :) .)

Bassio
29-11-2011, 14:14
Abu-alaa, I cannot see how your post changes/opposes any of my assertions.

Although it would have been more appropriate for me, knowing all the circumstances surrounding that Congress, to find another 'normal' recording to replace the Congress one (will do will do) for the comparison (@jenni: the Congress recordings are a handful of recordings not representative of true performance practice.. re Abu-alaa's notes above).

First, I cannot find where I have claimed that these were non-Nahda performers, in fact the opposite

two Nahda performers, but in two post-Nahda recordings

I included these performers because they are the ones often cited as the most faithful to original practice, and that they have not 'modernized' their styles even when the Nahda period was over and the modern period started.

The recordings chosen were because they were studio recordings but recorded at later dates than the Nahda era. My critique shows that the performers were indeed faithful to their Nahda origins in their singing. for example tempo considerations etc. (compare them to any other contemporary recordings at that time) and I don't delve to any further comment.

I then just extended the critique to examine other aspects of any recording, including instrumentation and chorus, which as Abu-alaa explained, have rarely anything to do with the performer himself and usually out of his control. (I bet Zakariya Ahmed could not care for the number of Mazhabgiya in the chorus, probably due to shifting performance aesthetics, remember this is a 40s or 50s recording)

I conclude that although these recordings were late recordings, the performances were more-or-less in accord with Nahda Dawr performances, and that the performers did not let me down. (I just noticed that the Dawr Husni performs is a Mohamed Uthman composition)

And for the sake of comparison:
I suggest that Um Kulthum's recordings of the Adwar (Husni's and Zakaria's) has both revolutionized the Dawr as a genre, but also almost obliterating the original Nahda Dawr spirit in the process. In this regard, she was more radical even than Sayyed Darwish. (but this could be that Husni and Zakariya are just better composers)
But this is a whole different thread, where other members could join the fight. ;)

أبو علاء
29-11-2011, 22:37
Abu-alaa, I cannot see how your post changes/opposes any of my assertions.

Are you sure? Either I'm reading too much in your comment or you're not reading mine enough. I suggest you reread both with some care to find out.


I included these performers because they are the ones often cited as the most faithful to original practice, and that they have not 'modernized' their styles even when the Nahda period was over and the modern period started.
The recordings chosen were because they were studio recordings but recorded at later dates than the Nahda era. My critique shows that the performers were indeed faithful to their Nahda origins in their singing.

First, I refer you back to my remarks concerning the definition of "nahdha" and "post-nahdha" periods in chronological terms. Who decided when the nahdha started and when it finished and on which grounds and why should a series of 'adwar recorded in 1932 by a composer born in 1873 and whose compositions were interpreted as early as in the 1890s by interpreters like Hilmi and Manyalawi be considered as recorded "at later dates than the Nahdha era"? By the way, there is no such a thing as "studio recordings" by Dawud Husni. And, again, Husni's performance of 'adwar as recorded for the congress was in no way "faithful to the nahdha origins"...


I conclude that although these recordings were late recordings, the performances were more-or-less in accord with Nahda Dawr performances
Absolutely not. Not as far as Dawud Husni-Mustafa Ridha's recording are concerned (I don't know which recording of Zakariya you're referring to; I didn't check it). I explained how even the number of musicians and mahdhabgi had nothing to do with faithfulness to the nahdha pattern...


I suggest that Um Kulthum's recordings of the Adwar (Husni's and Zakaria's) has both revolutionized the Dawr as a genre, but also almost obliterating the original Nahda Dawr spirit in the process.
'um kalthum has revolutionarised nothing in 'adwar. The novelties were limited to the ones composed by Zakariya and they concerned exclusively the composition, not the interpretation offered thereof by 'um kalthum who did nothing else with Zakariya's as well as Husni's 'adwar than a memorised pre-established interpretation of the given pieces without any invention (At least, this was the case in the 78 rpm records that reached us; we don't know what she did in live concerts.), whereas Dawud Husni's late 'adwar (not only the ones composed for 'um kalthum but similar ones recorded by Fathiya 'ahmad, Nagat 'ali, Khayriya As-saqqa, Siham...etc) were elaborate (almost finite) compositions that the singers interpreted faithfully without any significant additions from their own...
One last thing, how could you reasonably apply this HIP concept invented in Western musicology circles in the beginning of the 21st century (or was it late 20th?) to performances recorded 80 years ago not by "historically informed performers" but by those very performers who made "history"?!

fredlag@noos.fr
29-11-2011, 23:17
Outside de HIP debate, but concerning nahda spirit and late adwar recordings by Umm Kulthum, Abd al-Wahhab, Nadra, etc. You have to take into consideration, Bassio, that (roughly) until 1918, 78 recordings of adwar are *recordings of a performance*, even if technical limitations turn those performances into a summarized and somewhat artificial echo of what a concert might have sounded like.
In the 20s, and that is the case with Umm Kulthum and others, recordings absolutely do not register a performance of the dor, in the sense of a summarized version of what this dor could sound like in a concert. The record is a raw exhibition of a work commissioned by the recording industry, and that has not had any chance to evolve and be shared by the music community. You have to listne to this adwar exactly line you would listen to UK's studio version of Ya tul 3azabi and then confront it to the concert performance, and realize they have very little in common.
In the 20s, record companies made the law and had replaced the former economy of music. They presented a produce that did not try or care anymore to emulate the concert wasla. So the raw material of the dor was not at all out of the nafda aesthetics, but the recording in itself was a totally different produce, in its spirit, than what was recorded and sold in, say, 1910.
Now, as far as HIP is concerned, a concept i find interesting, I understand that Aisha Ridwan, Nidaa Abu Mrad, Mustafa Said etc. concerts are clearly HIP, but how could that be the case with artists that were still living and producing during the Nahda ?

Bassio
30-11-2011, 16:11
One last thing, how could you reasonably apply this HIP concept invented in Western musicology circles in the beginning of the 21st century (or was it late 20th?) to performances recorded 80 years ago not by "historically informed performers" but by those very performers who made "history"?!



Now, as far as HIP is concerned, a concept i find interesting, I understand that Aisha Ridwan, Nidaa Abu Mrad, Mustafa Said etc. concerts are clearly HIP, but how could that be the case with artists that were still living and producing during the Nahda ?

I see where both of you are coming from and you have a point.
The HIP is, of course, a concept that should be sought to inform our modern-day contemporary performances of classical music.

Unfortunately, for the concerts of Arabic music I have attended (although they were rather few) were almost devoid of any proper classical performance practice. I have never seen or heard Aisha/Nidaa/Mustafa Said Fred's refering to, but am nevertheless happy to know that there are performers out there who spend effort to regain the proper way of doing stuff.

Now the only thing that made me put up some recordings of the original artists and critiquing their performances according to their HIPness is one thing that keeps bothering me:
There is a clear and obvious break/decay of performance habits from the older generations (Manyalawi/Hilmi etc) .. with the newer generation (Um Kulthum/Fathiya Ahmed etc). What has happened? What changed? What appears to have broken the oral tradition passed down from generation to another? Who is responsible? And was it decay or was it just normal evolution that should be accepted? (and we all know the critical stance abu-alaa has against Sayyed Darwish :D) Was it the recording industry? Or was it Western influence again?

I acknowledge Fred's observations re difference between live and a studio recording, however, does this mean we should not analyse what we have at hand. Do we stop analysing Manyalawi's performances because we had no live waslas of him on record? The answer is obviously no.

Let us take this step by step. Let us first discuss a simple point to know everyone's opinion: the number of Mazhabgiya.

Many recordings let us say pre 1920 had 2 Mazhabgiya (correct me if I am wrong). In the 1930 and 40s this changed to become a chorus of say more than 4 mazhabgiya (audible in Zakariya's dor or UK's adwar) After the 1960s we ended up with a glorious Church-style chorus of 30 plus choristers standing on stage!!

What happened? Let us take this apart. You are either one of two opinions:
a) the number of mazhabgiyya is irrelevent to the artistic message.. 30 give the same aesthetic as 2.. or whatever..
b) the number of mazhabgiyya affects the way the music is produced.

If your opinion is (b) and you prefer a historically-informed performance, you will say: let us go back to the original masters and hear how they performed their music. Ah, we find that they mostly used 2 (or just to play devil's advocate, No they preferred a chorus.. but they were coerced to 2 by the recording engineers) Hence, the study/research begins and this is why we have PhDs for.

In this way, any recording post 1920 can be critiqued, regardless the artist. The Husni recording is the most worthy of critique. As abu-alaa said: because it is a non-typical recording with the number of instruments and choristers limited to one by the recording conditions (the Cairo Congress). In this way, abu-alaa himself has done a musicological study of the setting of a recording, and compared it to other more normalized settings of that day to reach a conclusion.

Abu-alaa is arguing with me through agreeing with me.

to be cont.

Bassio
30-11-2011, 16:32
To give you an example of how the Westerners treat the recordings they have of the original masters and put them under the magnifying glass.

The only known recording of Brahms is a 40 second clip of him playing the piano (preceded by the khawaga Edison himself saying ... ma3ana el hag Brahms, Johannes Brahms) recorded on a 'Koubaya recording'.

The music left on the wax is almost non-existent. However they've committed a whole project to it, who knows perhaps they can get a glimpse of how they used rubato back.

As you see, this gets out of hand, and becomes not only a matter of musical performance, but a matter of recording history itself.

The other example relates to the issue Fred discusses in his above Post re live vs recording.

Contemporary performers perform the Rachmaninoff concerto say in 45 minutes, giving 12-13 minutes for the first movement. However, the composer himself recorded it in around 9:40.

And until some time, we have people arguing that he performed it faster than usual due to constraints and capacity of the 78rpm. We have no other contemporary historians describing how the composer performed his own works and what tempi he usually used. However, this issue was settled that the technical constraints were just a myth and that this is the tempo really intended by him for performances of that piece.

This study and settlement to reach a general historical consensus on a musical controversy (I say historical because there is nothing called artistic consensus, since art is subjective and fashion changes with time) is what we still have missing.

For a performer like UK, we have her concert recordings (we have a reference), which may be the best indication of live performance back in the Nahda era (although we all know UK's gradual deserting of traditions).
For earlier performers, these are unfortunately missing.

أبو علاء
30-11-2011, 21:24
In this way, any recording post 1920 can be critiqued, regardless the artist. The Husni recording is the most worthy of critique. As abu-alaa said: because it is a non-typical recording with the number of instruments and choristers limited to one by the recording conditions (the Cairo Congress). In this way, abu-alaa himself has done a musicological study of the setting of a recording, and compared it to other more normalized settings of that day to reach a conclusion.
Abu-alaa is arguing with me through agreeing with me.


Ya 'ahmad, here is (part of) what you wrote:

These performers are considered by myself, in their mode of singing, the pinnacle of historically-informed performance, even after the end of the Nahda times.
(...)
Notice that these are late recordings and were not recorded during the Nahda recordings era.
Now if we consider the chorus as an alien introduction to the original takht through Western influence, therefore, in this regard, Daoud Husni recording should be considered the more historically-informed.
(...)
Difference 2: Instrumentation
Zakaria's recording uses the full takht. Daoud Husni's uses only a qanun
(...)
Who is more historically-informed here? Who knows? Zakaria's recording might be more proper, however I find Husni's aesthetics also not compromising, since we have many Dors performed only on a qanun + violin (with the 'Ud drowned in the background), so this minimalist concept is preserved, given Husni's excellent tarabic style.


For some strange reason, the forum posting interface doesn't allow me to quote any long text. So, I will just refer you to what I wrote in post number 10, which contradicts you on all these highlighted points.
All this said, I still don't understand why I should need a pedantic concept, with its enigmatic acronym to make it sound "informed", invented somewhere else about a totally different type of music to discuss a music that was fundamentally oral, not formalised, not fixed and wasn't upheld by any theoretical thinking (Frédéric has more than once deplored the fact that the nahdha school didn't generate such a thinking and that its protagonists haven't left us with any serious theoretical considerations conerning their practice). Do you think, if we simply call for interpretations that give due consideration to the spirit of the nahdha aesthetics and respect its essential constitutive elements as incessantly analysed and described through the various threads of this forum for the last six years without ever hearing about this HIP thing let alone mentioning it, we're missing the whole target?

Bassio
03-12-2011, 17:55
Do you think, if we simply call for interpretations that give due consideration to the spirit of the nahdha aesthetics and respect its essential constitutive elements as incessantly analysed and described through the various threads of this forum for the last six years without ever hearing about this HIP thing let alone mentioning it, we're missing the whole target?

No. Because this forum is as purist as you can get. :) With this purist stance, you can say that Zaman el Wasl was one of the first "collective" effort in HIP revival for Arabic music.

We just need to know what the term stands for.

So again, when someone asks why don't you like the Beleidy version of that Dawr, I reply: I just don't find it that historically-informed.

Bassio
04-12-2011, 15:04
Again we need more scholarly study of singing turath before the art vanishes completely. This video (with people hailing it as "beautiful" in the comments) shows you were we stand on this issue.
*******
A performance of this kind again makes you wonder if the performer(s) had ever heard any rendition of the piece by any old artist, even the middle-of-the-road standard interpretation of the composer's son!! (But perhaps they advertise as crossover and not authentic turath, who knows.)

Sigh.

My only hope is the efforts of the new Turath preservation foundation.

أبو علاء
04-12-2011, 15:33
This video (with people hailing it as "beautiful" in the comments) shows you were we stand on this issue.

Sorry, Bassio, this is too ugly to be tolerated here, whatever the reason for linking it. You don't need any examples to illustrate the non-sense and aberration one can come through about interpreting the classical repertoire. In your example, the problem is neither one of lack of study nor of listening, but simply a problem of mentality. These people don't know what they're doing and why they are doing it and, believe me, an authentic musician or vocalist doesn't need a sophisticated study to perceive the aesthetic essence of this music and to interpret it in a correct way.

أبو علاء
05-12-2011, 15:03
So again, when someone asks why don't you like the Beleidy version of that Dawr, I reply: I just don't find it that historically-informed.
Bassio, forget about the historically informed thing for a little while and try and explain to me in human language why on earth you don't like Bilidi's performances! If we were to apply this concept of yours, we would probably need not have let's say the performance of a dawr not exceed the duration of two to four 78rpm record. It might be even recommended to have some khashkhasha. Back to Bilidi, this gentleman masters the repertoire very well. He was one of the last and probably the best singer still capable of interpreting a mawwal (only 'ibrahim Al-haggar was relatively close to his level of mastery and I don't count 'abdi-l-muttalib whose mawawil were of a different style) and to have significant improvisatory and modulatory capabilities. His interpretations of 'adwar and muwashshahs had nothing to do with the Nwira style. Is it the problem with the relatively large instrumental ensemble? I sincerely don't think this constitutes a betrayal of the nahdha spirit. Otherwise, we should dismiss the whole repertoire of Salah 'abdi-l-hay, Mahmud Mursi, Hasan Al-hamuli and a few others as "not historically informed" and, as a matter of fact, why not dismiss the 78rpm repertoire altogether, because it was certainly not a faithful reproduction of the nahdha performances (live performance being the only feasible one in those circumstances) Don't you think so? In other words, A true historically informed performance should either emulate the performing modalities/conditions of the record industry, which themselves were artificial ones significantly different from those of the nahdha era, of which we have only more or less accurate literary accounts, or not be a at all with the logical result of denying the right to any attempt to reproduce the repertoire....

Bassio
05-04-2012, 12:37
I have to say that actually I agree with Abu-Alaa's above post completely, especially on how the limitations of 78rpm might have led to changes in performance practice. The Wasla would thus be a more historically informed option of recording performances today.

But I still feel (might be a personal feeling) that there was a gradual shift in aesthetics from the older performers to the newer performers! I cannot be convinced that the practice remained the same. This does not mean that one should totally disregard all aspects of the newer performances.

Abu-alaa is certainly a more experienced listener than I am, and I can see his point that Beleidi was a very good performer in his own right. But still, you can still hear that his performance is different from the older generation. Is it the large instrumentation? is it slow tempo? is it his mode of ornamentation? I really can't pinpoint, there are several points, for me perhaps it is the general tempo? Not sure.
This really needs more time for me to study carefully each era and its style. I have always concentrated more on older recordings and had no time to listen carefully to newer performances.

Confession: I am actually not very partial to many late interpretations of Saleh Abdel-Hay!! I think it needs more time for me to completely absorb his style. But I urge everyone to listen to Saliba El-Katrib's performances (for example, 3ahd El Ekhewa) and tell me that these are not wonderful performances that could have originated from the Nahda! That performance (and performer) are both great!!

أبو علاء
05-04-2012, 17:39
Meeting another of the active members of the forum was indeed a sheer pleasure. I have constantly been encouraging those who have had the Manyalawi product in their hands to come up with their comments, criticisms and suggestions for the future with the hope to start a useful debate on the question and to avail ourselves of the useful material in our future undertakings. Unfortunately, as usual, my repeated calls remained unanswered. Your comments and thoughts are awaited and most welcome. You can input them here. There's no need for a new thread.