Arabic Music

Arabic music, the original name for music on the Arabian Peninsula.

According to philosophynearby, Arabic music is based on the Arabic language, Islam and the tradition of manners and customs. Despite the large number of countries whose music is summarized under the general term Arabic music – the Arabian Peninsula, the Islamic countries of North Africa, the Near and Middle East as well as Sicily and Spain during the Moorish rule – one can speak of a uniform musical culture, because although the styles can be clearly delimited (Egyptian culture, Persian music, Syrian music, Turkish music), they have a lot in common. These commonalities include, above all, the tone system, the forms of music, improvisation procedures and composition techniques, performance practice, the composition of the ensembles, the rhythmic formulas and the position of the musician in society. She also connects the discussion with the hostility to music of orthodox Islam, which tries to prevent any secular music practice and officially only allows calls to prayer, Koran cantillation and cultic hymns. Since the 13th century, however, some dervish orders began to legitimize music as an aid to mystical immersion.

The Arabic-Islamic music is divided into an eastern group with Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Persia and the western area with Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and the Arabic-influenced areas of the European Mediterranean. Both directions go back to court music, which developed under Persian influence at the caliphs’ residences in Medina, Damascus and in Baghdad from the 7th to 9th centuries during the Umayyad and Abbasid era.

In the Arab tradition, the human voice, which is also an ideal sound, is in the foreground. The melody models characteristic of the practice of composition were named after the accompanied solo voice, which the artist performed from a small podium (maqam). The melodies that an instrument plays around in free unison (heterophony) are in a certain maqam and are performed freely and adorned with improvisation. The singing tone is pressed and slightly nasal. Accompanying drums follow rhythmic cycles. One of the longest periods still played in Syria today is 176 strokes. Lists and analyzes of rhythm models as well as subdivisions of the tetrachord into different sized intervals to form scales are the most important topics of the numerous medieval treatises by Arabic music theorists, which are based on ancient treatises (Ishak al-Mausili, † 850; al-Kindi ; al-Farabi ; Ibn Sina ; Safi ad-Din al-Urmawi, † 1294). Their explanations were often purely speculative and did not correspond to musical reality. In order to standardize the abundance of interval calculations in the following centuries, an agreement was reached in Cairo in 1932 on a 24-step quarter-tone system which, although it cannot adequately capture the ornaments in the maqam, is helpful for describing the sound material.

The most important musical genres are the suite-like Nauba, the Taqsim, the poetic forms of singing Zadjal and Muwaschschat (both of Andalusian origin) and the Kasside (going back to pre-Islamic desert tribes) in their classical and popular variants.

Classical instruments in Arabic art music are the short-necked lute Ud (the most distinguished virtuoso instrument), the trapezoidal board zithers Qanun (Kanun; strings plucked or plucked with a plectrum) and Santur (strings struck with two mallets), the two-string string lute Joze (the four -stringed spit lute Djause) with the resonance body of a coconut, the single-headed vase drum Darabukka, the frame drum Daff with embedded cymbals on the edge and the longitudinal flute Naj. All instruments are sometimes integrated into folk music ensembles.

Folk and tribal music was able to preserve the peculiarities of the various peoples more than art music. The most widespread folk musical instruments with variations in design and designation of different sizes include the Naqqarat timpani, the five to six-stringed lyre Simsimija and the single-stringed version of the rabab with a rectangular body as the preferred instrument of poet singers to accompany their epic chants. Under mizmar, the generic term for reed instruments subject clarinet Uffata, double clarinets zummara and Arghul and the oboe zurna, which together with the questionable time frame drum Dawul forms one of the most frequently used ensembles in processions and festivals.

Originally, Arabic-Islamic music was passed down orally; today the European notation is used in part. – Although the music of modern composers is rooted in tradition, it borrows harmonic twists from Western music, replaces long rhythm periods with two and three bars and tends to enlarge the ensemble.

Arabic Music

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