Music and Dance

Time Magazine has a photographic essay on “Exploring the Mawlids of Egypt.”

Hisham Aidi gave a fascinating interview on NPR about his recent book, Rebel Music. You can listen to the interview here.

Rumi Rocks, literally. Check out this Iranian video

Listen to the Oldest Song in the World: A Sumerian Hymn Written 3,400 Years Ago

Open Culture, July 8th, 2014

In the early 1950s, archaeologists unearthed several clay tablets from the 14th century B.C.E.. Found, WFMU tells us, “in the ancient Syrian city of Ugarit,” these tablets “contained cuneiform signs in the hurrian language,” which turned out to be the oldest known piece of music ever discovered, a 3,400 year-old cult hymn. Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, professor of Assyriology at the University of California, produced the interpretation above in 1972. (She describes how she arrived at the musical notation—in some technical detail—in this interview.) Since her initial publications in the 60s on the ancient Sumerian tablets and the musical theory found within, other scholars of the ancient world have published their own versions.

The piece, writes Richard Fink in a 1988 Archeologia Musicalis article, confirms a theory that “the 7-note diatonic scale as well as harmony existed 3,400 years ago.” This, Fink tells us, “flies in the face of most musicologist’s views that ancient harmony was virtually non-existent (or even impossible) and the scale only about as old as the Ancient Greeks.” Kilmer’s colleague Richard Crocker claims that the discovery “revolutionized the whole concept of the origin of western music.” So, academic debates aside, what does the oldest song in the world sound like? Listen to a midi version below and hear it for yourself. Doubtless, the midi keyboard was not the Sumerians instrument of choice, but it suffices to give us a sense of this strange composition, though the rhythm of the piece is only a guess.

A new Youtube music video on the nightmare in Syria…

لبلادي عمل من إعداد وإنتاج وتنفيذ مجموعة شباب يقيمون في السويد وهم من سوريا و العراق و لبنان و فلسطين. على أمل السلام…

“To Our Countries” is a project produced by a group of youths who live in Sweden and are originally from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine

There is an extraordinary collection of 47 Magic Lantern slides from the 1930 Beloit College Logan Museum Expedition to Algeria by George L. Waite, the photographer and cinematographer. This is available in an online collection at the website of the Smithsonian Institution. Click here to access the collection.


يقرب الله لي بالعافيه والسلامه … وصل الحبيب الأغن
ذاك الحبيب الذي حاز الحلا والوسامه … وكل معنى حسن
ونسأل الله تعالى عودنا من تهامه … الى سفح صنعاء اليمن
لأن صنعا سقاها الله فيض الغمامه … منزل حوت كل فن

ما مثل صنعاء اليمن … كلا ولا أهلها
صنعاء حوت كل فن … يا سعد من حلها
تطفي جميع الشجن … ثلاثَ في سفحها
الماء وخضرة رباها الفايقه والوسامه … وكل معنى حسن
كم يضحك الزهر فيها من دموع الغمامه … فيا سقاها وطن

يا ليت شعري متى الأيام تسمح برجعه … إلى مدينة أزال
ونستعيد ما مضى يا سيد أفديك جمعه … وطيب بساط المطال
لأن من بعدكم ما كف لي قط دمعه … والشوق بي لا يزال
وكلما غردت ورقاء بأعلى البشامه … طلقت طيب الوسن

أهيم في عشقتك … والدمع جاري غزير
والروح في قبضتك … وانا بحبك أسير
والقلب من فرقتك … يكاد نحوك يطير
فارحم أسير الهوى من قد تزايد غرامه … إن لم تكن له فمن
لأنني لا أطيق الهجر ذا والعدامه … ولا أحتمل ذا الشجن

تظن يا منيتي ان قد نسيت أو تناسيت … او خنت عهدي القديم
شاحلف براسك بأني فيك من حين وليت … أبكي و ساعه واهيم
ولا حلى لي سواك و لا بغيرك تسليت … يمين والله عظيم
يا ناس ما حيلة المشتاق في ريم رامه … ما حيلة ابن الحسن

يا ربنا يا مجيب … عجل لنا بالرواح
لوصل ذاك الحبيب … بالأنس والإنشراح
والدهر ذاك الكئيب … قد تقضًى وراح
سهل لنا منك باللطف الخفي والكرامه … وعافنا واعف عن
صلي وسلم على طه شفيع القيامه .. والأل ما المزن شن

by Anouar Majid, Tingiata, April 15, 2014

The most controversial actress in Morocco and the Arab world gave me a tour of Rabat, the capital of Morocco. To say that it was a unique experience would, quite frankly, be a huge understatement. Parking attendants, men in uniform, women with hijabs and jellabas, food sellers and everyone—literally—who saw Latefa greeted her with smiles and affection. People took photographs with her and asked for new performances. She is truly a people’s artist, one who uses a container (labelled “cont’n’art”), among other tools, to foster awareness about health and difficult social issues.

The car ride, as you could see in the video, was, in itself, a fascinating spectacle. The free-spirited Latefa sang throughout most of trip, ending, most appropriately, with the theme of Carmen, reminding us that women are born to be free, not objects to be hidden away.

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