Thursday, July 5, 2007

Melody4Arab.Com, Arabic and Rai Music Home

Arabic music can be classified into a number of genres, such as classical or popular, secular or sacred. It boats of a rich and long history, having developed over all these years through interaction with several other musical genres and styles. Without remaining insular, Arabic music has allowed itself to be influenced by music of different countries or regions like ancient Greece, Turkey, India, Persia, Africa and Europe. Arabs took great interest in Greek works of music and mastered their musical theory. The African influence has mainly come from Berber and Swahili, while Flamenco from Europe has been a definite influence on Arabic music. On its part, Arabic music has influenced music of other regions as well.

Arabic classical music is renowned for its great singers, who are capable of mesmerizing listeners with their long, elaborately ornamented songs. In the secular genres of Arabic music, we find maqam al-iraqi, andalusi nubah, muwashshah, Fjiri songs, qasidah, layali, mawwal, taqsim, bashraf, sama'i, tashmilah, dulab, and sawt. Both Christian and Islamic music are included in Arabic sacred or religious music. Modern Arabic music has mostly been dominated by trends originating in Cairo. Morocco, Beirut and Saudi Arabia too have contributed to the development of modern Arabic music. Other popular regional styles include the Algerian Raï, the Moroccan Gnawa, the Gulfian sawt, the Egyptian El Gil and Turkish Arabesque-pop music.

Arabic singers became stars when the recording and film industry grew tremendously in Egypt in the 1920s. Among such great Arabic singing stars are Abd el-Halim Hafez, Farid Al Attrach, Asmahan, Sayed Darwish, Mohammed Abd el-Wahaab, Warda Al-Jazairia, and of course Umm Kalthum, arguably the greatest star of modern Arab classical music. There are several excellent female artists as well. Some of them are Samira Said, Nawal Al Zoghbi, Haifa Wehb , Nancy Ajram, Dina Hayek, Julia Boutros, to name a few. Among the leading male artists are Moustafa Amar, Hisham Abbas, Amr Diab, Mohamed Fouad, Fadel Shaker and Melhem Zein among others. This list too is far from exhaustive.

Rai music

Based on Arabic love poetry and Bedouin desert music, Rai music was born in Oran, Algeria in the third decade of the twentieth century. However, with the passage of time, it has developed a universal appeal with the incorporation of Western instruments and sounds. Today, Rai music is a fusion of the Orient and the Occident that can do anything from voicing political protest to convey spiritual feelings.

Rai lyrics discuss contrasting features such as traditional and modern, sacred and secular, and Arabic and Western. It is sort of global in appeal in spite of retaining the Arabic heritage. Inspired by the Algerian Sahara music, Rai uses only flutes and drums. The lyrics are full of romance and contain imagery of sand dunes, oases, palm trees, and women. It has a nostalgic feel about it, as it often describes the pain of leaving the homeland for other places.

After several phases of transformation, Rai took its present shape in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when artists like Ahmad Baba Rachid engineered a fusion of traditional Rai with modern pop sounds. Rai may not sound any different from pop music sung in Arabic with traces of World Beat influence, but the listeners should not miss the tonal and instrumental influences of Bedouin folk music, as well as regional cultural and religious influences.

Rai musicians are usually called cheb (feminine chaba) if they are young and playing modern styles of Rai, or shikh/cheikh (feminine shikha/cheikha) if they are older and playing more traditional styles. Some famous Raï artists are Bellamou Messaoud, Chaba Fadela, Cheb Sahraoui, Faudel, Cheb Hasni, Cheb Kader, Khaled (earlier called Cheb Khaled), Cheb Mami, Rachid Taha, Cheikha Rimitti, Chaba Zahouania, Reda Taliani, Mohamed Lamine, Cheb Hassen, Cheb Saidi, Cheb Abdou, Chebba Zahwania and Aziz Bo Walam. te home of arab music.

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