The Arab culture is one of the cultures that are found in the Middle East. Within this Arabic culture there is the Arabic music which is the music that is for the people who speak the Arabic language. Classical Arabic music has been in existence for a very long time and it is popular among many people not just in the Middle East but all over the world. This paper will therefore look at the Arab culture music roots. It will look at the Arab music generally, the instruments used and some of their popular musicians. Itwill also focus on how this music has changed throughout time. There will also be an insight on the efforts that have been made to rejuvenate and rediscover the music and the reasons as to why these roots have been suppressed.
A lot of Arab music is characterized by emphasizing rhythm and melody and not harmony. Some of the genres are polyphonic and others are homophonic. There are five major components which characterize Arab music and they are; the tone system, the Arab tone system is a system with musical tuning which relies solely on structures with a specific interval and it was invented in the 10th century by al-Farabi.the second component is that the music has a rhythmic temporal structure which leads to the production of a wide range of rhythmic patterns which are known as awzan. These are often used in company of vocal cords that are metered as well as instrumental genres which give them form or assertion. The other component is musical instruments which are found throughout Arab culture and world which represent a tone system that is usually standardized. The instruments in the music are played using standard techniques which display same details when it comes to their design and construction. The fourth component is that the music often has specific social contexts which lead to the production of various sub categories or genres of the Arab music. They can be broadly ne categorized into urban which is meant for those inhabitants of the city, rural meant for country inhabitants or Bedouin which is meant for people that inhabit the desert. The fifth component is the mentality of Arab music. This mentality is aimed at creating a esthetic homogeneity of rhythmic-temporal as well as the tonal-spatial structure that is found all over the Arab world whether it is improvised, orcomposed,secular or sacred and vocal or instrumental. The Arab music is described mentally as being made up of many things.
The instruments that are used in Arab music are diverse and too many when it comes to being listed. The four main melodic instruments in Arab music are oud,qanun,nay and violin as well as main percussion instruments known as riq. The riq is often substituted by a table or daff which is a frame drum. When it comes to style the instruments are categorized into two groups the sahb which is played by stretching or puling and the naqr which is played through hammering or plucking. The nay and violin are categorized as sahb while the qanun and oud are categorized under naqr. These two categories are meant for accompanying each other that there can be creation of music which is richer and more complete. Where there are duets the combinations which are common are oud with violin and nay with qanun.
There are various genres within Arab music and they include Andalusia music that originated from Abu Hassan Ali who was known as Zirriab.This was a famous singer and composer in the 9thcentury. This music is characterized by use of instruments which are complicated. Its lyrics are in Andalusia dialect.The other genre is Aissawa which was founded in the 15th century by Sidi Ben Aissa.it is characterized by the use of percussion instruments. Another genre is Bedouin music which is meant for Arabian tribes in the desert. It often based on poems and accompanied by the sun.Berber music is another genre that originated from the Berber culture which was rich and diverse and it uses various styles of music such as Celtic style to music which is pentatonic which are combined with rhythms that are African in nature. The music is an important stock of oral literature which is authentic. Other music genres in Arab music are chaabi,Gharnati,Gnawa, Griha, heavy metal,khaleeji,malouf,Ra’I and so on. These genres can be broadly put into two categories under secular art music and sacred music. The secular art music includes analusi,layali,dulab,liwa and many others. On the other hand sacred music includesJewish music which is Baqashot and pizmonin.it also includes Christian and Islammusic. However some of the Islamic music is still categorized under secular while Christian music is under the influence of Coptic, catholic, orthodox and so on.
The Arabic system of music is quite a complex one even more complex than the ancient Greekharmonica. Arabmusic is based on the Maqam system that is similar to the mode but not exactly it. The maqam used determines the dominant note, the tonic note and the ending note unless there is occurrence of modulation. There are over 110 maqams in the Arabic music which can further put into categories that are often larger known as fasilah. The fasilah are groups of maqams which have their first four pitches being similar. The maqam is made up of two scale segments known as ajina. There has been continued innovation which has led to the emergence of other ajinas there is therefore no solid number of ajinas that scholars have come up with. However there are eight main ajinas that have been universally agreed upon and they are Saba,rast,kudi,ajam,hijaz,sikah, bayat and nahawand.
ClassicalArab music has been known for virtuoso singers that sing long songs which are ornamented elaborately using tunes that are melistic and are known to drive those listening to the music into ecstasy.these musicians get their tradition drive from the times where Islam was not in existence when the singers were women who were slaves and they were meant to entertain the rich people, give inspirations to warriors when they were in the battle field with rajaz which was made up of poems, they also staged their performances in weddings and other festivals. There are various Arab music singers who produce a wide range and genres of songs. These musicians create their music and record them as well as produce videos for them. Among the famous Arab musicians are Amr Diab,Mohamed Moneer, Kadim Al sahir, Nancy Ajiram and many others. These musicians are not only famous in the Middle East bust they are known all over the world from the music that they produce.
Arabic music is independent and has been in existence and alive for a very long time. It has some interactions with various genres and styles of music in the Middle East region. The Arab music has its roots deep in Arabic poetry that dates back to the pre-Islamic period that was known as Jahiliyyah.Arabic music as is known today came into being as a result of art that is termed as evolutionary form which dates back to the Greek civilization. Many cultures as well as political powers led to the evolution of this art of Arab music. The recitation of Arab poetry was done with rhythm and tone which was spoken in a manner that was highly musicalthat was incorporated with several instruments. Therefore the Arabic music is marked by focusing on melody and style and less emphasis is put on harmony of the music as compared to the western music. The tone system of the Arabic music as well as other rhythmic- temporal structure that the musicians use makes the Arabic music very distinct from other music. The music has been harmonic in nature since its development and has not features like polyrhythm,polyphony as well as a development that is motivic.
Due to its roots on poetry Arab music is made up of tones and semitones which can also shift to quartertones. It is therefore it is so far music that has the very smallest of the tonal steps. This is therefore the typical character of Arab music and as it plays repeatedly around the notes with variations that are slight, there is loss of key notes by the musician.
Nowadays there is use of western temporal instruments in the Arabic music. There is use of instruments like piano, guitar, synthesizer, electric organ and so on. This has led to the diversion of Arab music from what it was known to a new form that it takes. Arabic music has therefore changed and transformed totally. There has been creation of new genres which are as a result of the combination of Arab music and the western music. Therefore Arab music has undergone major transformation and people are now getting to know and like the new Arab music version as opposed to the old Arab music.
The strong roots of the Arab music are slowly being suppressed this is due to the fact that there has been a strong interaction between Arab music and popular music from the western cultures. This began in the 1950’s and by 1970 most of the Arab musicians adopted these changes and Arab pop came to existence. Arab pop was made up of songs that were of the western style but with use of Arabic lyrics and instruments. Western pop music was also influenced by Arabic music as surf music developed from this. Several west-meets-east music styles began to develop and they were such as Franco-Arabic.Therewas also development of Arabic reggae,R&B and hip hop,Arabic jazz, Arabic rock and so on. These interactions between the western culture and Arabic music therefore led to suppressing of the initial Arabic music roots. A complete deviation from the Arabic root was seen and the Arabic music became completely different from what it was before.
Throughout time Arab music has gone through changes and has been some what been lost. It is no longer what it was intended to be as the western culture has greatly influenced it. The music is seen to have taken a western tone that has greatly changed it. There are seen to be efforts made by musicians to try and rejuvenate as well as rediscover Arab music as it existed before these interactions. Arab musicians are constantly being encouraged to produce Arab music like it was done before. They are discouraged from incorporating the western culture too much each time they make music. There are also shows that are organized where Arab music that was produced before influences from the westernculture.
This is aimed at giving an opportunity to people who have never had the opportunity of listening to this music and hence be able to appreciate it and want more. The shows are also aimed at encouraging musicians to get ideas from this music and appreciate its value so that they can try to produce such music. Without this efforts to rediscover the Arab music then it might be completely lost as it can be taken up by the western culture. If this is not done in good time then the generations to come will not have a chance to listen to the original Arab music tunes as they were. They therefore will have been denied a great opportunity which other generations that came before them enjoyed.
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