The Arab Music Archiving and Research foundation (AMAR), in collaboration with the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), presents “Sama‘ ”.
“Sama‘ ” discusses our musical heritage through comparison and analysis…
A concept by Mustafa Said.
Welcome to a new episode of “Sama‘ ”.
Today, we will be analysing dawr “Farīd el-maḥāsin bān” also known as “Ẓarīf el-maḥāsin bān” –we will clarify this point later on.
We have eight recordings of this dawr… among the many other existing ones:
The first recording, made during Odeon’s first recording campaign in 1903 –among the first ones after the Gramophone campaign at the beginning of the same year– is of Aḥmad al-‘Ajamī;
A recording was made one year later in 1904 by Egyptian Odeon, yet we did not select it because I was too lazy to fix its flaws, and also knowing that there is another recording of the same score performed by the King’s brass band –we will discuss this later;
The second one is a marvellous recording made in 1905 by Odeon of Sitt Asma al-Kumthariyya with the two instrumentalists who accompanied Aḥmad al-‘Ajamī, i.e. Ḥāj Sayyid al-Suwaysī (‘ūd) and ‘Abd al-‘Azīz al-Qabbānī (qānūn), added to ‘Alī ‘Abduh Ṣāliḥ (nāy);
The third recording made two years later in 1907 by Odeon is of Sulaymān Afandī Abū Dāwūd accompanied by Ibrāhīm Sahlūn (violin), Muḥammad al-‘Aqqād (qānūn), ‘Alī ‘Abduh Ṣāliḥ (nāy), and Muḥammad Abū Kāmil al-raqqāq (riqq);
The fourth recording made in 1909 by Gramophone is of ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī accompanied by Ibrāhīm Sahlūn (violin), Muḥammad Ibrāhīm (qānūn), ‘Alī ‘Abduh Ṣāliḥ (nāy), and a percussionist I do not know playing a ṭabla not a riqq;
The fifth recording made much later, in 1924, by Polyphon is of the King’s band;
The sixth recording made four years later maybe in Berlin by Baidaphon is of Muḥammad Qadrī –we will learn about this later on;
The seventh is a March 1932 Cairo Congress of Arab/Oriental Music recording of Dāwūd Ḥusnī accompanied by Muṣṭafa Riḍā (qānūn), himself playing the ‘ūd, and Maḥmūd Raḥmī (riqq);
Our eighth recording made in the late 1950s by the Bahrain Radio is of Muḥammad Zuwayyid (‘ūd) accompanied by a percussionist I do not know playing the ṭabla.
Now that we have listed the recordings, let us listen to the dawr in full performed by Aḥmad al-‘Ajamī who condensed it into one side of an Odeon record made in 1903. As mentioned earlier, he was accompanied by the great Ḥāj Sayyid al-Suwaysī (‘ūd), ‘Abd al-‘Azīz al-Qabbānī (qānūn)…
He performed a dūlāb ḥijāz, a dawr to the ḥijāz, and a taqsīm layālī ḥijāz all on one record-side. He did not deny us anything… Before we start discussing this dawr to the maqām ḥijāz in detail, let us also listen to a full recording of it performed by the King’s brass band…
This recording does not require a lengthy analysis. While, on the other hand, we must highlight a difference that may not be obvious to some listeners: the first recording represents the form intended for this dawr…
(Note that I do not know who wrote this dawr that was probably composed by ‘Abduh al-Ḥāmūlī –because it is similar to his compositions–, while some attribute its composition to Muḥammad ‘Uthmān and others to Dāwūd Ḥusnī. I personally think it was composed by ‘Abduh al-Ḥāmūlī because of its style… it may as well have been composed by another).
… So here is the difference between Aḥmad al-‘Ajamī’s recording and the recording of King Aḥmad Fu’ād’s brass band:
The first recording represents the dawr as it was intended to be played, even though it is short and condensed…etc… yet it includes all the required elements;
Whereas the second recording, i.e. the recording of the brass band, represents the dawr as read from a score then orchestrated. Consequently, it is no longer a dawr but has become a maqṭū‘a.
Let us discuss the reading of a work: How is one supposed to write the notes of a certain piece into a score? The dawr was re-read from a harmony perspective –we will discuss this issue later. So the brass band added harmony to the dawr that, consequently, could be now played in a tashrīfa or a march in a military fashion, yet it made him lose everything else: the improvisation, the relation among the performers, and the relation between the performer and the listeners.
Now, let us go back to the madhhab: the dawr is to the maqām ḥijāz. The madhhab starts from the jawāb, i.e. from the aspect of the bayyātī’s 5th scale-step, i.e. the ḥusaynī in the case of a ḥijāz / dūkāh –‘Abd al-Ḥayy sings it to the ḥijāz / nawa–… So, at the ḥijāz’ 5th scale-step, there is a bayyātī aspect than can also be a rāst aspect at the 4th scale-step, i.e. the nawa in the case of a ḥijāz / dūkāh. So he uses the ḥijāz from a sub-octave, ḥijāz dīwān…
At “We-kān iḥtagab ‘annī”, he stopped at the 5th scale-step.
Let us listen to “Farīd el-maḥāsin bān we-kān iḥtagab ‘annī”…
In the second part, he descends one scale-step at a time until he settles on the dūkāh at “Shāf ghuṣēn el-bān wa-āl li-el-ḥamām yā ḥamām ghannī”. Note how he descends…
This was the madhhab to the ḥijāz going from the jawāb to the qarār.
Let us conclude today’s episode with the dawr in full performed by Sitt Asma al-Kumthariyya. But first, let us highlight some remarks:
Sitt Asma sings the madhhab “Farīd el-maḥāsin bān we-kān iḥtagab ‘annī” (that we listened to earlier) and two dawr-s, not one: the dawr “We-fēn el-ḥabīb yā nās yigīlī yshūf ḥālī”, that everybody else sings and that we have heard performed by Aḥmad al-‘Ajamī. This dawr is followed by the second beautiful dawr “la-huwa illī ‘ishi’ yinhān” that only she sings. The first dawr is on the first record-side and the second one on the second record-side. She displays her instant creativity in her beautiful improvisations and modulates between the bayyātī, the rāst, the ḥijāz, and the ḥijāz kār, refuting the theory saying that dawr-s belong to the male repertoire and that ‘ālima can only sing ṭaqṭūqa-s, and demonstrating a sense for improvisation as great as the best Sheikhs. Sitt Asma al-Kumthariyya’s interpretation of dawr is among the best I have ever heard, and this dawr specifically is among the most marvellous she ever sang. Furthermore, the Takht Odeon’s accompaniment is marvellous, including Ḥāj Sayyid al-Suwaysī’s layālī to the bamb in the end (among the very few taqsīm-s he ever played to the rhythm) and his incredibly beautiful interpretation that sounds as if he were singing with her with his pick. You will witness this in this performance.
…So, a dūlāb ḥijāz followed by the full dawr “Farīd el-maḥāsin bān” on two sides of a 27cm record and that ends with her singing layālī to the bamb and taqsīm-s…
Wow! What a beautiful performance by Sitt Asma and by Ḥāj Sayyid al-Suwaysī! What a unique right hand! … and his left hand too!
Strangely, his 5-strings’ ‘ūd is tuned to the yakāh, rāst, dūkāh, nawa, and kardān, and he plays the ḥijāz at the rāst while accompanying Sitt Asma al-Kumthariyya.
…Such beautiful layālī and taqsīm! Such a beautiful performance!
We have reached the end of today’s episode of “Sama‘ ”.
We will meet again in a new episode to resume our discussion about dawr “Farīd el-maḥāsin bān”.
“Sama‘ ” was presented to you by AMAR.