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مشاهدة جميع الاصدارات : Where is the Tarab? أين الطرب؟



jenni
19-11-2011, 23:38
There are plenty of "good" arabic singers; the notes are all there, the ornamentation is lovely.... everything is correct. But I find myself consistently dissappointed in modern singers with the lack of that special warm indescribable feeling that brings tears to my eyes whenever I listen to the mighty voices of SabaH fakhri, oum kalthoum, noor al huda, najah salam, etc.
For example, I love the repertoire of Ghada Shbeir, but there's no Tarab (for me, or for numerous music-enthusiasts I've spoken to).
Rima Khcheich, who i had the pleasure of working with this past summer, has the most incredible pitch, and a very tasteful and unique way of gliding throught the notes. But no Tarab. (To her credit, she sings mostly jazz fusion nowadays, and her voice works perfectly with that style).
The singers of the Morkos Ensemble, also with a FABULOUS repertoire, but once again no Tarab.

I think you get my point....

My question is, well first of all, do you agree with me? Are there any modern singers you know of that just knock your socks off? Or does Ghada shbeir or rima k give YOU tarab?
Secondly, if you do agree with me, do you think there is a way to objectively discuss Tarab? I think Tarab is beyond personal taste which is why I'm putting this discussion up... Someone told me that Oum Kalthoum could tell if somebody's "allah" was genuine or not...
What did the old singers have that the new ones don't?

In my opinion, what's lacking in many modern singers is literally the VOICE ITSELF. The thing you were born with. All of the "Tarab singers" have a perfect balance between richness and sweetness. Ghada, Rima, the morkos ensemble singers - their voices are too light to penetrate me. But then someone like, Sofia Sadek - her voice is just so harsh and eager that it overlooks the passage to my heart. 3aisha Redouine is someone doing great songs, but most people would agree that it's simply not a pretty voice.. the tone is all nasal.

My favorite example for great timbre is NajaH salam - her voice is solid, thick. But it's simultaneously playful, flexible, and high. the others i mentioned are similar - resonant yet not pushing or tense, not airy, and plenty flexible. Even Fairuz, who has a "light" voice, had a richness and stability that made her so special.

The obvious reason we're not getting as many great singers is simply because not as many people are singing this music anymore; you're more likely to find a diamond if you search five rivers than if you only search one... we've ended up settling for stones.

OR do you think there's more to it than that? Is it the way people teach singing now? I wouldn't really know how music conservatories in the arab world teach, but maybe more people are looking for that light sound...

I've been thinking about this matter for a while, so your opinions are very welcome and appreciated!

Thanks,
Jenni

أبو علاء
20-11-2011, 00:12
Dear Jenni,
I share most of your assessments (actually, all of them but for one notable exception - that of Sabah Fakhri). I also think that you have already identified two reasons for this apparent lack of tarab (poor voices and the scarcity of performances and performers of the old repertoire). A third reason and probably the first important one, in my view, is the approach most of those performers have to the repertoire. They simply have no idea at all of where those songs they interpret come from, their genesis, their historical and cultural context, the fundamental aesthetic characteristics underlying the composition and/or performance, interpretation policies of the original interpreters...etc. Suffice it to say for instance that most of the modern singers and musicians who interpret 'adwar or muwashshhs use musical scores to learn the pieces and/or interpret them. This says it all. 'a'isha Ridhwan is probably one of the very rare exceptions to this general rule. But, then, as you put it yourself, she just hasn't the appropriate voice to produce a convincing performance.

jenni
20-11-2011, 03:36
"Suffice to say for instance that most of the modern singers and musicians who interpret 'adwar or muwashshhs use musical scores to learn the pieces and/or interpret them. "

yes! There's something I didn't think of! The way I've learned to sing in Arabic is by ear, (except I have to read the words in the beginning). I went to Simon Shaheen's music retreat this past summer, and the singers learned everything using the sheet music. The process was much faster, and perhaps it's good for people who can't yet hear quarter tones, but something about it felt so inauthentic. Even reading the roman transcription of the words seemed unnatural- For the first time, ironically, I had trouble with pronunciation (although that could have been due to not being used to reading formal transcriptions). The sheet music gives you the skeleton of the music, that's it. It doesn't give you all of the nuances and subtleties necessary to make the music sound extraordinary.
Although you've brought up another good point about cultural understanding:

"They simply have no idea at all of where those songs they interpret come from, their genesis, their historical and cultural context, the fundamental aesthetic characteristics underlying the composition and/or performance, interpretation policies of the original interpreters...etc"

Do you think it's achievable through reading, studying, and listening? Or do you think that it's a lost cause as our culture is far from what it was back then?
IMO, I think it can be learned... most of it by meticulous listening, and by musical and historical/cultural analysis. And for all our sake here on zamanalwasl, I hope it can be learned :)

But I'm curious what your opinions are of Sabah Fakhri? Do you not consider him a Tarab singer?

Bassio
20-11-2011, 13:13
True. There is an obvious divide between the original interpreters and the new interpreters. This divide is also in the perception of the aesthetics themselves.

I agree with Abu-alaa here that this can be solved through research and study of the old repertoire/performance practice in a rigorously scientific way. However, it seems that the musicological knowledge (and interest) of today's interpreters is nil.

Jenni, also check the Historically accurate performances thread I opened in the same forum.

أبو علاء
20-11-2011, 13:46
Do you think it's achievable through reading, studying, and listening? Or do you think that it's a lost cause as our culture is far from what it was back then?
(...)
But I'm curious what your opinions are of Sabah Fakhri? Do you not consider him a Tarab singer?
My answer to the first question is yes, at least to a great extent. It's obvious there's no question of reproducing/reviving the initial conditions that generated the nahdha era performance, whatever you know and do about it, including through Bassio's sophisticated "historically accurate performance". But, one can definitely integrate the spirit that guided those old performances/performers after grasping it through listening in the first place, much listening, and possibly through "informed listening" and studying (I personally prefer empirical study, the only one I can practise). As for Sabah Fakhri, besides my disliking of the voice that I find rather poor in terms of texture, his style is extremely minimalistic and made of stereotypes. It's a sort of shami Farid (sorry Luay!). As a matter of fact, I don't like the shami style in interpreting muwashshahs, mawawil and 'adwar. I must add, however, it is difficult to distinguish elements of an objective assessment based on verifiable facts (although some of them can easily be spotted here) from subjective ones in this kind of appreciations/judgements.

jenni
20-11-2011, 21:34
I agree with Abu-alaa here that this can be solved through research and study of the old repertoire/performance practice in a rigorously scientific way. However, it seems that the musicological knowledge (and interest) of today's interpreters is nil.

Jenni, also check the Historically accurate performances thread I opened in the same forum.

Someone said to me the other day about classical western singers, the same thing: singers generally for some reason have no desire to learn where the songs they are singing came from. It's looked upon as the thing for "musicologists" or "historians" to do. But the musically gifted person who can also be somewhat of a musicologist, I think could do something great.

Okay, I will check it out, thank you!

jenni
20-11-2011, 21:41
...that generated the nahdha era performance, whatever you know and do about it, including through Bassio's sophisticated "historically accurate performance". But, one can definitely integrate the spirit that guided those old performances/performers after grasping it through listening in the first place, much listening, and possibly through "informed listening" and studying (I personally prefer empirical study, the only one I can practise). As for Sabah Fakhri, besides my disliking of the voice that I find rather poor in terms of texture, his style is extremely minimalistic and made of stereotypes. It's a sort of shami Farid (sorry Luay!). As a matter of fact, I don't like the shami style in interpreting muwashshahs, mawawil and 'adwar. I must add, however, it is difficult to distinguish elements of an objective assessment based on verifiable facts (although some of them can easily be spotted here) from subjective ones in this kind of appreciations/judgements.

What do the words "nahdha" and "shami" mean?

I much prefer studying through listening as well, but especially for an outsider to the culture and the language, perhaps it's more important for me to do historical readings and such.

Another question... I don't yet know the language (only a little), but do you believe that if I know what a specific song means (really know - poetically and literally) that I can appropriately interpret it? Because western singers rarely are fluent in all of the languages they sing in, and that's accepted...

Not that I am planning on neglecting learning the language - I will surely be fluent in a few years, and if not just for interpretation's sake, it'd open up many doors for me in terms of gaining historical and cultural knowledge.

Hattouma
25-11-2011, 18:35
Thanks Jenni for opening this discussion , iexecuse me for the maybe too short and quick reply .Bbasically i believe to "raise" the voice (as we raise up kids , sorry literal translation from arabic !) to be able to give Tarab (and to feel it because it's a give and take 2 way feeling in my opinion , singer indeed needs to listen and appreciate the art of the great old singers and the tajweed source (Quran reciting and religous singing - inshad, because this is the basis of the sharqi arabic tradition . conservatories in arabic world are far away from this ,they teach western style and even socially and culturally this tradition is often ignored and looked down upon... ), ofcourse the talent and the will as well

check this ,
,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZUHFgze60A&NR=1

and check Mustafa said

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_nyDxEEuv0

jenni
25-11-2011, 21:03
Thanks Jenni for opening this discussion , iexecuse me for the maybe too short and quick reply .Bbasically i believe to "raise" the voice (as we raise up kids , sorry literal translation from arabic !) to be able to give Tarab (and to feel it because it's a give and take 2 way feeling in my opinion , singer indeed needs to listen and appreciate the art of the great old singers and the tajweed source (Quran reciting and religous singing - inshad, because this is the basis of the sharqi arabic tradition . conservatories in arabic world are far away from this ,they teach western style and even socially and culturally this tradition is often ignored and looked down upon... ), ofcourse the talent and the will as well

check this ,
,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZUHFgze60A&NR=1

and check Mustafa said

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_nyDxEEuv0


That is interesting what you said about qur'an recit.... While not being religious myself, I've always found it to be so incredibly beautiful. I've heard that Oum Kalthoum originally started singing qur'an.

Maybe it's that all of the potential "Tarab" singers have chose instead the qur'an lol :)

Why is that type of technique looked down upon??!!

And does "Egyptian sharqi" tradition just mean the music from the golden age era?

Hattouma
26-11-2011, 12:24
Why is that type of technique looked down upon??!!

And does "Egyptian sharqi" tradition just mean the music from the golden age era?


well , yes the tradition practised in the golden era. why is a lot of tarab technques looked down upon ? this could be the subject of social , political studies ..etc but very briefl: because for a long time Modern = Western = Good , , borrowing western techniques was progress = good = modern = good

أبو علاء
26-11-2011, 17:51
Sorry Jenni, I missed your post with the questions:


What do the words "nahdha" and "shami" mean?


Shami is an adjective derived from Ash-sham, which in old geographical terminology referred to the territory comprising nowadays Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, hence the denomination of the fourth section of this forum. In this particular context, what I mean by shami style in classical repertoire interpretation is the way in which the repertoire is interpreted in Syria and Lebanon. As for the nahdha, the term belongs to political and social sciences and designates a mainly intellectual, but also, to a certain extent, political and economical movement started in the beginning of the nineteenth, in the wake of Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, and lasted until the early twentieth century. Inspired by the contact with Western civilisation, this movement aimed at integrating modernity principles and achievements into the Arab world so as to revive the once great Arab and Islamic civilisation by resurrecting it from hibernation (nahdha in Arabic literally means "rise", but also with extrapolation "awakening"). In music and in the Egyptian context in particular, this term applies to a musical tradition that arose and evolved between the middle of the nineteenth and the beginning of twentieth, which has developed its own aesthetics, its mode of transmission, performing and reception modalities and produced a huge repertoire, a significant part of which was engraved on 78 rpm records. To a large extent, that repertoire is endangered today out of neglect and that is the main reason for the founding of this forum. The Manyalawi box set includes a booklet that gives an excellent overview of the question in both English and French. If you can read French, Frédéric Lgrange's doctorate dissertation provides a much more in depth analysis of the various aspects of nahdha musical school in Egypt and is available to download here (http://www.zamanalwasl.net/forums/showpost.php?p=3499&postcount=86).



Another question... I don't yet know the language (only a little), but do you believe that if I know what a specific song means (really know - poetically and literally) that I can appropriately interpret it? Because western singers rarely are fluent in all of the languages they sing in, and that's accepted...

Not that I am planning on neglecting learning the language - I will surely be fluent in a few years, and if not just for interpretation's sake, it'd open up many doors for me in terms of gaining historical and cultural knowledge
With all due respect, you can't sing in a language that you don't know at all, forgive my Franch, but this is a non sense. Although I'm totally ignorant about singing arts in European or Asian traditions, I can hardly understand how it would be feasible. But, I do know the Arab singing tradition and I can tell you it's definitely impossible. Otherwise, there would be a serious problem in terms of phonetics (correct pronunciation, tonic stress, prosody...etc), semantics (the meaning of words and sentences is bound to have some correlation with the melody and the vocal performance and specific implications for both) and rhythm. We're speaking of serious singing (be it professional or not), not informal performance in informal settings.
Now, there's a fundamental fact about language of which you have to be aware and that is the specifically Arab phenomenon of local ("intralingual") "bilingualism" with the presence of a common written language (standard/classical/literary Arabic) and a multitude of spoken languages/dialects in the various Arab countries, commonly known as "colloquial"(Egyptian, Tunisian, Lebanese...etc) Arabic. The latter differ from one another and they all differ from written Arabic. The differences are more or less significant depending on how much a population is geographically and ethnically close to another population and the differences between any of those dialects/spoken languages and standard written language are of phonetic/phonological, lexical, morphological and syntactical nature. Being fluent in classical/standard Arabic is a must if you want to sing qasidas (ya garata-l-wadi, wahaqqika 'antal-l-muna wa-t-talab...), but, although helpful, yet not enough to be in a position to sing an Egyptian dawr or taqtuqa (kadni-l-hawa, 'asli-l-gharam nadhra; 'ala baladi-l-mahbub, min 'adhdhibak...).

jenni
26-11-2011, 21:09
well , yes the tradition practised in the golden era. why is a lot of tarab technques looked down upon ? this could be the subject of social , political studies ..etc but very briefl: because for a long time Modern = Western = Good , , borrowing western techniques was progress = good = modern = good

Okay, thank you!

I apologize, as a westerner myself, for western modernization!

jenni
26-11-2011, 23:31
Sorry Jenni, I missed your post with the questions:


With all due respect, you can't sing in a language that you don't know at all, forgive my Franch, but this is a non sense. Although I'm totally ignorant about singing arts in European or Asian traditions, I can hardly understand how it would be feasible. But, I do know the Arab singing tradition and I can tell you it's definitely impossible. Otherwise, there would be a serious problem in terms of phonetics (correct pronunciation, tonic stress, prosody...etc), semantics (the meaning of words and sentences is bound to have some correlation with the melody and the vocal performance and specific implications for both) and rhythm. We're speaking of serious singing (be it professional or not), not informal performance in informal settings.
Now, there's a fundamental fact about language of which you have to be aware and that is the specifically Arab phenomenon of local ("intralingual") "bilingualism" with the presence of a common written language (standard/classical/literary Arabic) and a multitude of spoken languages/dialects in the various Arab countries, commonly known as "colloquial"(Egyptian, Tunisian, Lebanese...etc) Arabic. The latter differ from one another and they all differ from written Arabic. The differences are more or less significant depending on how much a population is geographically and ethnically close to another population and the differences between any of those dialects/spoken languages and standard written language are of phonetic/phonological, lexical, morphological and syntactical nature. Being fluent in classical/standard Arabic is a must if you want to sing qasidas (ya garata-l-wadi, wahaqqika 'anatal-l-muna wa-t-talab...), but, although helpful, yet not enough to be in a position to sing an Egyptian dawr or taqtuqa (kadni-l-hawa, 'asli-l-gharam nadhra; 'ala baladi-l-mahbub, min 'adhdhibak...).


Thank you for the extensive definition!

For the second part, I think you've misunderstood me... I'm not talking about singing in a language I "don't know at all". Yes, one that I don't speak fluently, but one that I've studied, can read and write in, and can pronounce extremely well.

For the Western tradition, most professionals have studied the base languages in the classroom (French, German, Italian, English)... for example in my degree program we must take one year of each (except English obviously). In addition, we take phonetics only classes for each of those languages, including english. Then for each song we perform, we must know the translation. There are lots of western singers who are renowned for singing in foreign languages, in countries of those languages...

My question was, do you think, if this process is followed the same for arabic songs (have some kind of base knowledge of the language, be able to pronounce it phonetically, and finally translate whatever poem you are singing), even if not speaking the language fluently, one can reach a high (professional) level of interpretation? Whether it's in fosHa or 3amiyya...

I don't believe with this meticulous kind of work it would be impossible. I think that if one is fluent in the single song/poem he/she is interpreting, fluency in the language is not necessary... I probably think that because that's how I've been brought up in the classical singing world. Even if one is "fluent" in a language, poetry is a language within, and often uses a wider variety of vocabulary, so you're not guaranteed to know what a poem means without looking up at least a few words in the dictionary anyway.

All of that being said, I know Arabic is far more complex, and distant to western languages. No doubt a deep study of it would be highly beneficial to any foreigner attempting to interpret it.

Right now, I am no more than a good imitater. I don't separate the music and the poetry.... I hear a sound and I simply imitate it, and it gets the desired effect, but it is not my own. This is definitely partly because I have neglected the very important part of meticulous understanding of the lyrics (for a lot of songs, I generally know what I am saying, but generally is not enough), and partly because I am still new to this music and all of it's glorious subtleties have not seeped into my blood.

Anyway, there's at least one thing I have immediate control over, and with that you have inspired me to procrastinate on my translations no more :)

I know this is a touchy subject; I've had this discussion on other forums, and I know, nobody, particularly people as yourself trying to preserve the art, wants it to be misunderstood due to less-than-careful attempts at performing it.

jenni
27-11-2011, 01:15
Also, where can I get the "manyalawi box set" you keep mentioning?

أبو علاء
27-11-2011, 01:21
My question was, do you think, if this process is followed the same for arabic songs (have some kind of base knowledge of the language, be able to pronounce it phonetically, and finally translate whatever poem you are singing), even if not speaking the language fluently, one can reach a high (professional) level of interpretation? Whether it's in fosHa or 3amiyya...

My immediate answer is no. Now, this is my personal opinion based on my empirical knowledge of this field. I give it to you for what it is worth. I don't think I can add much in justifying it to what I've written in my previous post, but it is definitely not simply a matter of understanding the meaning of words. It goes far beyond that as I tried to explain and the meaning itself doesn't matter that much per se because the meaning and more generally speech is not what matters most in the classical Arab repertoire. We have previously dealt with this issue in a few threads in the nahdha section and including in the religious section, but I'm afraid the discussion was all in Arabic.


I know this is a touchy subject; I've had this discussion on other forums, and I know, nobody, particularly people as yourself trying to preserve the art, wants it to be misunderstood due to less-than-careful attempts at performing it.
In this particular circumstance, my concern is different. Actually I like you and I'm sincerely impressed by your interest and your dedication and this is my way of showing it. Since you have studied some French, the French have a say that goes: "Qui aime bien châtie bien". I'm not trying to punish you, but simply telling you (what I think is) the truth as I'm no longer talking to a foreigner whom you would congratulate lavishly just because he/she managed to utter a word or a sentence in your own language and whose performance vaguely evokes something familiar to an Arab ear!
Let me conclude with this anecdotal example that perfectly illustrates my thinking. There's a French gentleman who seems to have fallen in love with Arab music and settled to learn qanun (there's no question of language at all here, but music "only"). He's become a qanun player renowkned enough in informed milieux. He even played with number of more or less famous artists and ensembles, took part in public concerts, recorded CDs and everybody seems to be content and even extremely enthusiastic about his prowess, starting with his own self. But this modest somehow knowledgeable listener can tell you his performance hardly equates the level of any anonymous qanungi entertaining marriages in a small Syrian or Egyptian town...

jenni
27-11-2011, 02:10
My immediate answer is no. Now, this is my personal opinion based on my empirical knowledge of this field. I give it to you for what it is worth. I don't think I can add much in justifying it to what I've written in my previous post, but it is definitely not simply a matter of understanding the meaning of words. It goes far beyond that as I tried to explain and the meaning itself doesn't matter that much per se because the meaning and more generally speech is not what matters most in the classical Arab repertoire. We have previously dealt with this issue in a few threads in the nahdha section and including in the religious section, but I'm afraid the discussion was all in Arabic.


In this particular circumstance, my concern is different. Actually I like you and I'm sincerely impressed by your interest and your dedication and this is my way of showing it. Since you have studied some French, the French have a say that goes: "Qui aime bien chï؟½tie bien". I'm not trying to punish you, but simply telling you (what I think is) the truth as I'm no longer talking to a foreigner whom you would congratulate lavishly just because he/she managed to utter a word or a sentence in your own language and whose performance vaguely evokes something familiar to an Arab ear!
Let me conclude with this anecdotal example that perfectly illustrates my thinking. There's a French gentleman who seems to have fallen in love with Arab music and settled to learn qanun (there's no question of language at all here, but music "only"). He's become a qanun player renowkned enough in informed milieux. He even played with number of more or less famous artists and ensembles, took part in public concerts, recorded CDs and everybody seems to be content and even extremely enthusiastic about his prowess, starting with his own self. But this modest somehow knowledgeable listener can tell you his performance hardly equates the level of any anonymous qanungi entertaining marriages in a small Syrian or Egyptian town...


Okay, I really understand what you are saying :)
I know you weren't saying it to be mean. I am not going to be shy to tell you, as maybe you've guessed by my reply which i'm slightly embarrassed by, that I have become quite accustomed to those "lavish congratulations" by stunned arab-speaking onlookers who actually don't really know that much about music... and your response was/is humbling. This is actually why I asked if you are a teacher, because I don't know anyone with such extensive knowledge or such a critical ear, and this is exactly the kind of teacher I need. Even if I perform and people come up to me and make me feel like a "star," I know in my heart I'm not even close to the greats, which is perhaps why I even asked the question to begin with; to either verify my slight delusion or to get smacked with the truth, and I'm very glad it was the latter ;)

I will take your word for it, that the language goes far deeper than a simple translation, and although I'm not going to stop doing translations for now, it is my eventual goal to be fluent in both fosHa and egyptian 3amiyya (as egyptian music is my favorite :))

I know of the French qanun player you speak of- in ensemble "alkindi", saH?

Now, I would go further and ask if you think it is possible for a foreigner to EVER gain the fluency in the language/culture/music to represent an excellent native musician...however it wouldn't do much good ;) ; whether it is possible or not, I will die trying to achieve it, which sort of means I believe one day I can... because, to be as forthcoming as possible, I love this music more than I will ever love anything, or any person, in the world... I feel I owe it my life.

MORIN
27-11-2011, 02:58
this is morin. now there are 2 american women who love om kalsoum and attempt to sing her songs. i haven the studies in music or arabic as jennie but am in a similar position. In general i understand your opinion as an expert, connosour (excuse spelling) and when i hear spaniards singing country music, & japanese singingelvis (who I was with personally), of course there is a great difference to me, for singing in a pure style and also the feeling. but there are times when even a foreigner can evoke the feeling of the authentic music occasionally. the pronunciation is a critical point, there are some songs that can be sung with less obvious linguistic mistakes. or at least some of the small parts of them.i heard a spaniard singing elvis and i must admit that there were a few moments or even seconds that i felt good hearing him, and i was with elvis personally and won contests imitating him, and i am american brought up in those days hearing the best singers personally. i also was with others and so i was a native brought up in the right place with oportunity to be with the best. of course the spaniard was at the french embassy singing so the audience was international and got carried away with his performence.of course i noticed every essense of hisnon native pronunciationnow how about when om kalsoum used her voice without words? like ella fitzgerald sang skat with her songs. i found an old recording where she had a scarf in her left hand. i'm sure she wasnt trying to imitate om kalsoum. also another observation, in the later days of the lady, the orquestra used accordians, guitar, and not
just in the modern songs. I prefer the oud alone, or other oriental instruments in fat il maad, the lady was great in a concert i saw, tho the intro was with modern instruments mixed with hafnaowi, playing his best.
i will continue but just wanted to give my opinion as jennie also did. i prefer the authentic like abdu alla singing the qasidas, except for om kalsoum, after hearing abdo alaa her teacher, it is hard to listen to the modern ladies who have recordings. and i also dont feel the same listening to today's flamenco singers after hearing the original in person.

أبو علاء
27-11-2011, 03:21
Now, I would go further and ask if you think it is possible for a foreigner to EVER gain the fluency in the language/culture/music to represent an excellent native musician





My answer is definitely yes. It's of course much more difficult for a foreinger than for a native but it is as much true that it is not accessible to any native. Suffice it to know that the best living specialist of this music as far as I know is a non-Arab. He's as much fluent in Egyptian Arabic as any native Egyptian and in fusha as any modern Arab scholar. Would he have had the required capacities (the right voice), he would have made a perfectly decent singer.


...however it wouldn't do much good ;) ; whether it is possible or not, I will die trying to achieve it, which sort of means I believe one day I can... because, to be as forthcoming as possible, I love this music more than I will ever love anything, or any person, in the world... I feel I owe it my life.


This is music to my ear. It is the best reply I could ever wish to hear from you. I told you what I thought about you and my judgement of people has seldom failed me, however limited and intuitive my effective knowledge of them could be. As a matter of fact, I have immediately realised the extent of your love for this music that is comparable to mine, with all the objective differences between us that don't speak in my favour, and this is the reason for my liking you so much and the ensuing statements. So, I can't uphold your determination more. Just a word of caution to anticipate any bitter delusion. Please take good care of yourself and beware, the people are not as good as the music. Actually, the ones who produced it are no longer around and most of the ones around don't even understand anything to it, let alone care for it. So, don't be ingenuous!

jenni
27-11-2011, 06:20
My answer is definitely yes. It's of course much more difficult for a foreinger than for a native but it is as much true that it is not accessible to any native. Suffice it to know that the best living specialist of this music as far as I know is a non-Arab. He's as much fluent in Egyptian Arabic as any native Egyptian and in fusha as any modern Arab scholar. Would he have had the required capacities (the right voice), he would have made a perfectly decent singer.




This is music to my ear. It is the best reply I could ever wish to hear from you. I told you what I thought about you and my judgement of people has seldom failed me, however limited and intuitive my effective knowledge of them could be. As a matter of fact, I have immediately realised the extent of your love for this music that is comparable to mine, with all the objective differences between us that don't speak in my favour, and this is the reason for my liking you so much and the ensuing statements. So, I can't uphold your determination more. Just a word of caution to anticipate any bitter delusion. Please take good care of yourself and beware, the people are not as good as the music. Actually, the ones who produced it are no longer around and most of the ones around don't even understand anything to it, let alone care for it. So, don't be ingenuous!




Well, that is great to hear! Would this specialist be you by any chance? :)

Thank you for your kindness and passion. I have a high opinion of you too, if not for your vast knowledge then for your sincerity.

And, I have definitely heard that advice more than once before, so I will try to be wise so to not get sucked in by the mystery and excitement of it all!

أبو علاء
27-11-2011, 11:13
Would this specialist be you by any chance? :)

Absolutely not. I am Tunisian and I told you I'm "a somehow knowledgeable listener", no more and I also told you (in one of my PMs) I haven't studied music or musicology at all. The specialist in question is Frédéric Lagrange who is French and who got his PhD in this field of study. Two of your compatriots have a PhD in the same field of study (Virginia Danielson and Scott Marcus), but I don't think they know Arabic, at least, to the extent Fred does. By the way, two of the three of them are members of this forum. But while Frédéric has been of the most active contributors both in recordings and in useful comments (alas, he seems to have forgotten the forum for the last few months), Scott joined in last June and since then, he has paid a single visit three days after joining and he has never written a word here nor has he logged in again!

fredlag@noos.fr
27-11-2011, 11:28
tssss tssss... Not the right voice... My voice has the richness of Manyalawi, the tragic undertones of Hilmi, the playfulness of Higazi and the raw emotion of Abu al-Ila. I just don't want to embarrass anyone.

To speak seriously on this matter, there is, in Arabic singing, a huge problem for any voice that was not trained in it from childhood, and that is placement and determination of the right amount of nazalisation. The most mortifying experience of my life was some 15 years ago singing some melodically correct layali and hearing a lady commenting "di awwel marra basma3 layali bel khawagati". She was not being mean (although a bit blunt), the matter is that speaking without accent is one thing, singing with the right voice is another. I'm not saying this is not achievable, just that it demands extra-work, in addition to the "simple" mastering of phonetics. See, an Arab listener's ear will tolerate without any problem a foreign accent in light commercial songs (see Dalida's success), but when dealing with the semi-learned and the classical repertoires, perfection is required. Even a slight trace of an Arabic but non-Egyptian accent will not be tolerated in the Egyptian repertoire, and Lebanese, Syrian, Moroccan singers work hard to master it completely...

jenni
27-11-2011, 13:28
tssss tssss... Not the right voice... My voice has the richness of Manyalawi, the tragic undertones of Hilmi, the playfulness of Higazi and the raw emotion of Abu al-Ila. I just don't want to embarrass anyone.

To speak seriously on this matter, there is, in Arabic singing, a huge problem for any voice that was not trained in it from childhood, and that is placement and determination of the right amount of nazalisation. The most mortifying experience of my life was some 15 years ago singing some melodically correct layali and hearing a lady commenting "di awwel marra basma3 layali bel khawagati". She was not being mean (although a bit blunt), the matter is that speaking without accent is one thing, singing with the right voice is another. I'm not saying this is not achievable, just that it demands extra-work, in addition to the "simple" mastering of phonetics. See, an Arab listener's ear will tolerate without any problem a foreign accent in light commercial songs (see Dalida's success), but when dealing with the semi-learned and the classical repertoires, perfection is required. Even a slight trace of an Arabic but non-Egyptian accent will not be tolerated in the Egyptian repertoire, and Lebanese, Syrian, Moroccan singers work hard to master it completely...

Oh, yes!! I remember, about two years ago when I started, I was trying to sing Fairuz... I had spent days just making noises, trying to place the voice correctly to get the right sound... the moment I found it, I excitedly called my dad and demonstrated. I am still doing the same thing now just for more complicated stuff. If there is one thing I bring from my classical singing studies to arabic singing that is, as my teacher said and something I won't forget: The best singers are getting the maximum amount of resonance, without straining or pushing. I think this applies to all forms of singing that I am aware of... no matter where you place it (with arabic is chestier and nasaly, and with western the placement is more in the head; with fairuz it's a mixture) you should feel as though the sound is resonating throughout all the invisible "holes" in your head, behind the nose, the top, the back, the front, etc. And with arabic singing one thing I've learned is that the ornamentation should NOT be made using the muscles in the throat! So far I have had glimpses of what it feels like to do "vocal turns" and the like without feeling anything happening in my throat, but it hasn't quite stuck yet, especially if I'm tired/not super focused. I would love to one day be able to teach this style of singing, because I find it so interesting as I slowly figure it out and make the technical connections. Now, whenever I hear a colleage sing classically in my conservatory, all I can think of is the potential of their voices in this repertoire :) (That's how I know there's no going back !)

As far as the accent, as I said before I will take what both of you have said of the language to heart and be sure to study it in depth. It's comforting to know that even other Arab singers must work on their accents in this music!!!

And, Mohsen, I wasn't sure, because at one point you had said your voice is "odd." And maybe it's possible to have not studied music/musicology and still be very good. (wasn't this the case of oum kalthoum? Or is that just one of those rumors?)

أبو علاء
27-11-2011, 14:18
And, Mohsen, I wasn't sure, because at one point you had said your voice is "odd." And maybe it's possible to have not studied music/musicology and still be very good. (wasn't this the case of oum kalthoum? Or is that just one of those rumors?)
No, it's not a rumour. 'um kalthum went more or less through the same learning process that was common during the nahdha era and that was an "informal" one in the sense that it didn't include conservatoire type studies, but was yet a meticulous long lasting and very demanding one whereby the learning started at an early age and consisted of a sort of compagnonnage (I don't know whether companionship would carry the same meaning) whereby the apprentice artist gets trained through listening to seasoned artists, accompanying them and singing under their supervision during several years until the time he's considered mature and trained enough and, then he would undergo a severe examination by a jury made of confirmed artists and lead by the chief of the trade...
The word "specialist" in my comment referred to the knowledge, not to the practice.

MORIN
28-11-2011, 02:46
tssss tssss... Not the right voice... My voice has the richness of Manyalawi, the tragic undertones of Hilmi, the playfulness of Higazi and the raw emotion of Abu al-Ila. I just don't want to embarrass anyone.

To speak seriously on this matter, there is, in Arabic singing, a huge problem for any voice that was not trained in it from childhood, and that is placement and determination of the right amount of nazalisation. The most mortifying experience of my life was some 15 years ago singing some melodically correct layali and hearing a lady commenting "di awwel marra basma3 layali bel khawagati". She was not being mean (although a bit blunt), the matter is that speaking without accent is one thing, singing with the right voice is another. I'm not saying this is not achievable, just that it demands extra-work, in addition to the "simple" mastering of phonetics. See, an Arab listener's ear will tolerate without any problem a foreign accent in light commercial songs (see Dalida's success), but when dealing with the semi-learned and the classical repertoires, perfection is required. Even a slight trace of an Arabic but non-Egyptian accent will not be tolerated in the Egyptian repertoire, and Lebanese, Syrian, Moroccan singers work hard to master it completely... i wish you would explain more of your definition of LIGHT COMMERCIAL SONGS. for some non "fanatics" like me who are so enraptured with the songs I love in common, the definition now of what is light has been to me songs like el hobi kulu, even though om kalsoum sang it.which i really havent liked enough to learn it, in spite of the fact it is one of her songs. also warda sings one, the only one i have heard of hers I like, AOW ATI BETE7 LAOW, by Said Mkowy, though I prefer the singing of Mkowy and Om Kalsoum in a recorded duet they sang. for me it is dificult but i fell in love with it when I realized that the makam which i dont understand, but for me the sequence of notes, were the same a

MORIN
28-11-2011, 03:05
Now, I would go further and ask if you think it is possible for a foreigner to EVER gain the fluency in the language/culture/music to represent an excellent native musician...however it wouldn't do much good ; whether it is possible or not, I will die trying to achieve it, which sort of means I believe one day I can... because, to be as forthcoming as possible, I love this music more than I will ever love anything, or any person, in the world... I feel I owe it my life.


dEAR Jennie, I feel the same as you for the music, I didnt think I would find anyone like me who loves Om kalsoum, etc and this music as I do. and as with you nothing will make me love it less nor continue trying to perfect my singing tho Alla will help me when I am not around I am sure. ENSHAAALLLAAAA

أبو علاء
28-11-2011, 17:36
Off topic: Morin, I ask you in advance to forgive me for what I'm going to write. It's not at all my intention to be rude, but I have a forum to manage and a certain discipline to maintain to preserve the quality of the discussion. For god's sake try and write in a more focused way and your contributions are most welcome. You added three posts in a row, the second of which being almost a carbon copy of the first with a few additions, with circumstancial anecdotes that add nothing to the discussion and, most of the time, I find it most difficult to follow the line of your thinking or even to know where a stence starts and ends. I know my English is far from being perfect, but I'm not sure this is the reason of my confusion. If my memory serves me well, I think this is not the first time I have to write something similar. This thread is most important to me and I don't want it to be spoiled. Sorry again!

أبو علاء
14-10-2012, 23:52
Okay, I really understand what you are saying :)
I know you weren't saying it to be mean. I am not going to be shy to tell you, as maybe you've guessed by my reply which i'm slightly embarrassed by, that I have become quite accustomed to those "lavish congratulations" by stunned arab-speaking onlookers who actually don't really know that much about music... and your response was/is humbling. This is actually why I asked if you are a teacher, because I don't know anyone with such extensive knowledge or such a critical ear, and this is exactly the kind of teacher I need. Even if I perform and people come up to me and make me feel like a "star," I know in my heart I'm not even close to the greats, which is perhaps why I even asked the question to begin with; to either verify my slight delusion or to get smacked with the truth, and I'm very glad it was the latter ;)

I will take your word for it, that the language goes far deeper than a simple translation, and although I'm not going to stop doing translations for now, it is my eventual goal to be fluent in both fosHa and egyptian 3amiyya (as egyptian music is my favorite :))

I know of the French qanun player you speak of- in ensemble "alkindi", saH?

Now, I would go further and ask if you think it is possible for a foreigner to EVER gain the fluency in the language/culture/music to represent an excellent native musician...however it wouldn't do much good ;) ; whether it is possible or not, I will die trying to achieve it, which sort of means I believe one day I can... because, to be as forthcoming as possible, I love this music more than I will ever love anything, or any person, in the world... I feel I owe it my life.








My answer is definitely yes. It's of course much more difficult for a foreinger than for a native but it is as much true that it is not accessible to any native. Suffice it to know that the best living specialist of this music as far as I know is a non-Arab. He's as much fluent in Egyptian Arabic as any native Egyptian and in fusha as any modern Arab scholar. Would he have had the required capacities (the right voice), he would have made a perfectly decent singer.






This is music to my ear. It is the best reply I could ever wish to hear from you. I told you what I thought about you and my judgement of people has seldom failed me, however limited and intuitive my effective knowledge of them could be. As a matter of fact, I have immediately realised the extent of your love for this music that is comparable to mine, with all the objective differences between us that don't speak in my favour, and this is the reason for my liking you so much and the ensuing statements. So, I can't uphold your determination more. Just a word of caution to anticipate any bitter delusion. Please take good care of yourself and beware, the people are not as good as the music. Actually, the ones who produced it are no longer around and most of the ones around don't even understand anything to it, let alone care for it. So, don't be ingenuous!





My immediate answer is no. Now, this is my personal opinion based on my empirical knowledge of this field. I give it to you for what it is worth. I don't think I can add much in justifying it to what I've written in my previous post, but it is definitely not simply a matter of understanding the meaning of words. It goes far beyond that as I tried to explain and the meaning itself doesn't matter that much per se because the meaning and more generally speech is not what matters most in the classical Arab repertoire. We have previously dealt with this issue in a few threads in the nahdha section and including in the religious section, but I'm afraid the discussion was all in Arabic.


In this particular circumstance, my concern is different. Actually I like you and I'm sincerely impressed by your interest and your dedication and this is my way of showing it. Since you have studied some French, the French have a say that goes: "Qui aime bien châtie bien". I'm not trying to punish you, but simply telling you (what I think is) the truth as I'm no longer talking to a foreigner whom you would congratulate lavishly just because he/she managed to utter a word or a sentence in your own language and whose performance vaguely evokes something familiar to an Arab ear!
Let me conclude with this anecdotal example that perfectly illustrates my thinking. There's a French gentleman who seems to have fallen in love with Arab music and settled to learn qanun (there's no question of language at all here, but music "only"). He's become a qanun player renowkned enough in informed milieux. He even played with number of more or less famous artists and ensembles, took part in public concerts, recorded CDs and everybody seems to be content and even extremely enthusiastic about his prowess, starting with his own self. But this modest somehow knowledgeable listener can tell you his performance hardly equates the level of any anonymous qanungi entertaining marriages in a small Syrian or Egyptian town...


The above is part of the exchange I had with Jenni eleven months ago (the whole thread is worth reading for whoever's interest is caught by this post). However harsh my answers might sound to the readers, they were well meant to try and deliver a message of truth. What's really remarkable is that Jenni's passion and determination were, at least, as much strong as my own scepticism. More important to me is that this exchange was the beginning of a genuine friendship between the two of us that I highly value and a unique experience of interaction as much gratifying as unexpected. Today, I would like to offer a premature yet highly promising fruit of this collaboration that seems to prove to my great pleasure that I was wrong and Jenni was right - Jenni singing, actually still rehearsing, Laure Daccache... Your own evaluations are welcome.
PS. I haven't requested Jenni's permission to upload this recording. I hope this won't disturb her.

jenni
15-10-2012, 02:21
The above is part of the exchange I had with Jenni eleven months ago (the whole thread is worth reading for whoever's interest is caught by this post). However harsh my answers might sound to the readers, they were well meant to try and deliver a message of truth. What's really remarkable is that Jenni's passion and determination were, at least, as much strong as my own scepticism. More important to me is that this exchange was the beginning of a genuine friendship between the two of us that I highly value and a unique experience of interaction as much gratifying as unexpected. Today, I would like to offer a premature yet highly promising fruit of this collaboration that seems to prove to my great pleasure that I was wrong and Jenni was right - Jenni singing, actually still rehearsing, Laure Daccache... Your own evaluations are welcome.
PS. I haven't requested Jenni's permission to upload this recording. I hope this won't disturb her.

It was funny reading these comments again after so long...I can't believe how far I've come since then, and I owe it all to your guidance. I'm glad I had it in my heart when I was just beginning to go against the grain of what is popular these days and deeply question something even though I was/am foreign to it. I'm even more glad for your seemingly harsh replies. Since then I have surrendered myself to all the knowledge you were/are willing to share, and as a result you have opened my eyes to an alien world, one that I intend to dedicate the rest of my life to investigating. I'm so grateful that I have the musical background which has allowed me to practice this art form with some decent results, and for having a teacher who has provided me with the right environment/resources to explore my passion in an orderly and productive manner. Furthermore, what you have created here in "cyberworld" is really something unique and special, and I'm also thankful to be a part of this small yet rich and knowledgeable community. So no, it does not disturb me, and in fact I am beyond flattered; I thought it would be a lot longer before I made it on to the zamanalwasl forum :) I am slightly embarrassed that everyone will now know what aweful sound effects I make when I make mistakes, although I suppose/am hoping it just adds to my beginner's "charm" ;)

AmrB
15-10-2012, 14:17
Although I bore witness to the long, exhausting process that led to this almost-incredible success, I still feel that what Jenni has achieved here is rather uncanny. Let's not talk about the linguistic difficulties and the years of training in the Western tradition, but to meet, or perhaps even exceed, Abu Alaa's expectations (and discipline) in such a short period of time and with such persistence is the real deal. That said, I think that the possibilities for the future are endless.

Thumbs up, Jenni! I can't wait to see (or rather listen to) what's coming.

jenni
15-10-2012, 22:33
Although I bore witness to the long, exhausting process that led to this almost-incredible success, I still feel that what Jenni has achieved here is rather uncanny. Let's not talk about the linguistic difficulties and the years of training in the Western tradition, but to meet, or perhaps even exceed, Abu Alaa's expectations (and discipline) in such a short period of time and with such persistence is the real deal. That said, I think that the possibilities for the future are endless.

Thumbs up, Jenni! I can't wait to see (or rather listen to) what's coming.

Thanks so much, Amr! :) I am so happy right now!!!!

Hattouma
16-10-2012, 16:23
wonderful Jenni ..I'm really enjoying this ...hopefully next time you'll have asome musical accompaniment
give me your youtube channel because i don't remember it anymore (in a pm )

Hattouma
16-10-2012, 16:25
and Thanks to Abu Alaa ;)