Playlist: Music of Andalusia
On April 15, 2016, Simon Shaheen brings to life the Arab music of Al-Andalus and blends it with the ubiquitous art of flamenco in Zafir, a program of instrumental and vocal music and dance that renews a relationship with music from a thousand years ago. Zafir explores the commonalities of music born in the cultural centers of Iraq and Syria that blew like the wind (zafir) across the waters of the Mediterranean to Al-Andalus. There it blended with elements of Spanish music and was brought back across the seas to North Africa, where it flourished in the cities of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
To offer a small taste of the music inspiring Zafir, we have compiled a playlist of music from Andalusia, the Middle East, and North Africa. While the performance will blend these three regions and show off the similarities, we’ll separate the three musical styles out here, so that you can hear how these styles have evolved and changed. Take a listen below!
People might think that dance is the essence of flamenco, but in truth, the heart of flamenco is the song (cante). The Arab roots of flamenco run deep, and although much of the history is obscured, it is clear that flamenco grew out of the unique culture in Andalusia. Scholars believe the word flamenco is derived from colloquial Arabic felag mangu, meaning “fugitive peasant.” The word was first used in the 14th century to refer to Andalusian Gypsies, who were called gitanos or flamencos. Soon, the term flamenco came to be applied to their music.
We’ve compiled a playlist of top flamenco musicians in the past century, which includes Camarón de la Isla, Tomatito, Paco de Lucía, La Niña de los Peines, and Carmen Linares.
Israel, Palestine, Egypt
Simon Shaheen, who will be playing in Zafir, is a virtuosic Palestinian-American violinist and ‘oud player who grew up in Israel. Until the early 1990s, Arab music from this region did not have wide distribution, so the focus was on international stars such as Umm Kulthum, Fairuz, and Farid al-Atrash.
The playlist we’ve created includes the musicians listed above.
Sonia M’barek, the vocalist performing for Zafir, is one of Tunisia’s most renowned singers. Her music centers on malouf, a Tunisian style of music that is based on an old Arabic type of poetry called qasidah. It features violins, drums, ‘oud, flutes, and a solo vocalist. The most important structural element of malouf, is the nuba, which was introduced to North Africa by Andalusian Muslims who were forced to leave Spain in the 14th Century.
Here is a playlist of top Tunisian musicians in the past century, which includes El Azifet, Hedi Jouini, Ali Riahi, and Anouar Brahem.
What will you listen for at the performance? Which musical thread interests you most? Share your comments below.
Zafir is at Michigan Theater on April 15, 2016.
- Tunisia, The Jewel of the Mediterranean. (n.d.) Tunisian Music. Retrieved July 29, 2015 from http://tunisia.oi-dev.co.uk/about-tunisia/culture/tunisian-music
- Noakes, Greg. (1994) Exploring Flamenco’s Arab Roots. Aramco World. Retrieved July 29, 2015 from https://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/199406/exploring.flamenco.s.arab.roots.htm
- Smadhi. Asma (2013) Seven Classic Tunisian Songs. Tunisialive. Retrieved July 29, 2015 from http://www.tunisia-live.net/2013/10/18/seven-classic-tunisian-songs/#sthash.GNvElBIV.dpuf
- New World Encyclopedia. (2013) Flamenco. Retrieved July 29, 2015 from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Flamenco
- Pareles, Jon. (2013). Tradition Performed with a Twist. The New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2015 from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/arts/music/sonia-mbarek-at-the-french-institute-alliance-francaise.html
- La Nuvola Bianca. (2015). Malouf, Traditional Tunisian Music. Retrieved July 29, 2015 from http://lanuvolabianca.com/2015/01/10/malouf-traditional-tunisian-music/
- Corrigan, Damian. (2015) Top Five Flamenco Artists. About Travel. Retrieved July 29, 2015 from http://gospain.about.com/od/music/tp/top5artists.htm