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095 – The tawshīḥ 1, Duroub



014-ISK-B Ismail Sukkar, Tawchih Li Jalalat El Malek FouadThe tawshīḥ form became associated with the Islamic Sufi and religious inshād (chanting), yet it is not necessarily a religious form, as we will see in today’s episode.

Tawshīḥ and muwashshaḥ are thought to be the same by many. They designate one and the same form in a number of literature and music books, but practised musicians know it is not the case, at least not in music. 

The tawshīḥ is the pillar of the inshād waṣla… the same as the dawr in the Arabic maqām waṣla. On the other hand, the dawr includes collective sections and solo sections, whereas the tawshīḥ exclusively includes inshād performed by the biṭāna –ensemble of munshid– while the solo munshid fills the empty spaces of the melodic shifts. We will explain this in detail later on during the episode. 

In the inshād waṣla, the tawshīḥ follows the mawlid, the radd, and the ibtihāl, and is followed by the dārij that concludes the waṣla. The tawshīḥ is a form free from any going back, either to the lāzima, to the taslīm, or to the madhhab, where each phrase continues the previous one, and that always relies on partial qafla. In order to understand partial qafla, we have to go back to the dhikr, one of the most important tributaries of inshād that benefitted the tawshīḥ form in the phases of its shaping.

Alī al-Qaṣṣabgī

Alī al-Qaṣṣabgī

Let us listen to Sheikh ‘Alī al-Qaṣṣabgī –a munshid famous in the second half of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th– chanting dhikr “Awda‘t qalbī” recorded on one side of a 27cm record by Baidaphon before WW1, around 1912. Note the biṭāna’s collective performance of “Lā ilāh illā Allāh”: one, two, or three members chant a fixed melody to the same maqām, and sometimes outside the maqām; and the solo munshid’s rare tafrīd outside the fixed melody, relying on the partial qafla of this fixed melody that is based on the biṭāna’s continuing qarār melody…


Since the tawshīḥ is a form free from any going back, it displays the maqām as it is displayed in improvised forms, like the taqsīm and the mawwāl. The tawshīḥ starts from the origin of the maqām or its trunk, descends to the qarār –the root of the maqām–, ascends gradually to the sub-maqām, then to the peak, and goes back in the end to the qafla played to the origin of the maqām. During this display of the maqām, few qafla are whole –i.e. to the origin of the maqām and its fundamental position– and most are partial –i.e. to a certain ghammāz of the maqām, or a certain fundamental note of the maqām. Sometimes, and not in all tawshīḥ, some qafla are played to the peak of the maqām, i.e. to its fundamental position but at the jawāb, i.e. the highest dīwān

Here is a sample illustrating the maqām following the described manner, tawshīḥ “Mawlāya katabta raḥmat al-nāsi ‘alēk” to the sīkāh maqām, whose first qafla is to the note’s fundamental position, and second qafla to the maqām’s third. It allows the possibility of a partial qafla in the middle of the second phrase, if the solo munshid so wishes, to the third of the maqām’s peak, i.e. the fundamental position’s tenth; then a qafla to the maqām’s peak in the third verse; and a final qafla to the maqām’s fundamental position in the fourth and last verse.

Here’s an abridged version performed by Sheikh ‘Abbās Ḥasanayn and his biṭāna, including rare tafrīd, but displaying the details of the middle-qafla, or the part-qafla, in the middle of the verse and its end. The recording was made late in 1923 on one side of a 27cm record by Pathé, # 15.35, matrix # 18.359…


Tawshīḥ were not only authored for religious purposes.

Among other examples illustrating this, we will now listen to qaṣīda “Māla wa-iḥtajab” written by Aḥmad Shawqī Bēh known for its love poem nature, composed, chanted, and recorded by Sheikh Muḥriz Sulaymān and his biṭāna.

Some considered that he exploited love poetry for Sufi purposes, or that Shawqī Bēh wrote it the way followed by Sufi poets such as Ibn al-Fāriḍ and Al-Shabrāwī, i.e. with words resembling those of a love poem, but with latent Sufi meanings. Whether this is true or not… considering that people change, Shawqī wrote love poems, as well as praise poetry and direct religious poetry. The secret behind Sheikh Muḥriz’s choice of this qaṣīda remains a mystery.

Let us listen to it performed to the ṣabā maqām, recorded around 1925 by Baidaphon on one side of a 27cm record, # B-085236…


‘Alī al-Ḥārith

‘Alī al-Ḥārith

In tawshīḥ, the role of the solo munshid does not overstep the role of any member of the biṭāna, and he is always careful not to trespass it in order not to ruin the performance. His true role is to perform tafrīd, i.e. different types of improvisation during the tawshīḥ, starting with the tarannum including the ahāt –using the voice, instead of the words, like a musical instrument, in order to produce a melody without any lyrics–; the second type is the improvisation on words from the text; and the third type consists in using another text than the tawshīḥ’s text. We will later show that this last type is mostly associated with a certain event. The first two types of improvisation are those heard in tawshīḥ “Da‘ yā ‘adhūlī” and tawshīḥ “Ḥarāmun ‘alayya suluwwu al-milāḥ” chanted by Sheikh ‘Alī al-Ḥārith to the rāst maqām in an electrically recorded sequence by His Master’s Voice around 1928, on two sides of a 25cm record, # 18-212680 and 18-212681, matrix # BT 3895 and BT 3896.

He performed ahāt tarannum throughout the whole first side and on the second side.

In tawshīḥ “Ḥarāmun ‘alayya suluwwu al-milāḥ”, Sheikh ‘Alī al-Ḥārith performed tafrīd on the words of the tawshīḥ itself. He randomly either abided by the waḥda, or not, sometimes performing tafrīd mursal.

The text of tawshīḥ “Da‘ yā ‘adhūlī” was composed as a muwashshaḥ to the ḥijāz maqām in the tradition of mundane singing, and was cited in Muḥammad Shahāb al-Dīn’s Safīna in the ḥijāz waṣla.

It was also recorded by Badriyya Sa‘āda, yet we will listen to Sheikh ‘Alī al-Ḥārith’s version…


Traditionally, the tawshīḥ is performed a cappella by the ensemble of munshid and by the solo munshid. Yet we will see, in our next episode on the tawshīḥ, whether this initial performance style had changed, or if this later style existed from the beginning.

We will end today’s episode of “Durūb al-Nagham” with a rare tawshīḥ whose text is a praise of King Fu’ād the First –King of Egypt and Sudan who became Sultan after the death of his predecessor Sultan Ḥusayn Kāmil in 1917, then King in 1922 until he died in 1936. This example is another proof that tawshīḥ were not only authored for religious purposes.

Here is the version to the bayyātī maqām of Sheikh Ismā‘īl Sukkar and his biṭāna, recorded around 1925 by Baidaphon, # B-085318. 

We will meet again in a new episode to resume our discussion about the tawshīḥ.


3079-VOCC A Ali El Hareth, Daa Ya Azouli 2102-VOCR-A Ali El Qasabji, Awdaat Qalbi



  2015  /  Podcast  /  Last Updated January 22, 2015 by Amar  /  Tags:
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