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Musharaka [ Cooperation ]  Calligraphy by Khaled Al-Saai

Popular Culture and the Performing Arts

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A website for K-12 educators featuring innovative resource on the culture, geography, history and religions of the Middle East, including essays, classroom activities, downloadable multimedia content and interactive Google Earth tours.


Audio/Video

Ahallil de Gourara-"Tagarrâbt"

From: Harmonia Mundi Records

© Institut du Monde Arabe

This clip is 1.29 megabytes in size

Running time is 5 minutes and 38 seconds

Ahallil is music from Gourara, part of the desert in southwest Algeria and the same word is also applied to the bands of musicians who play this music. Originally music of the Zenata Amazigh tribes, it has also found popularity among the Arabic-speaking communities of the ksour or fortified towns that dot the region. The music is played after nightfall by ensembles that gather in a circle around a poet and soloist, a flautist and a percussionist. Performances occur over the course of three nights, with different topics providing the subject matter for each evening’s songs. In the extensive liner notes that accompany the disc, Abderrahmane Moussaoui writes "Ahallil sings of love and death, God and men, the pure and the impure. In sublime confusion, it gives rise to the coexistence of the sacred and the profane. As in all sacred musics, the frontier between God and the loved one remains very fragile. The pleasures of the ear are combined with those of the eyes in the perception of this choreographic spectacle whose harmony often brings out ululations from the women who put an even bigger weight of emotions and voluptuousness into and atmosphere that is already highly charged." The selection included here is from the introduction to a variation of the Ahallil called tagarrabt which involves greater participation of women as musicians and singers. The words of this section are an invocation of God, the Prophet, and blessed ancestors know at marabouts. The singer petitions for forgiveness. This ensemble uses traditional instruments, the first of which is tamdja the local variation of a flute. After a brief solo, the ensemble kicks in all at once. You will hear a plucked stringed instrument that is called a gumbri, an hourglass shaped terracotta drum called the qalla, hand clasping and stones which are banged against one another to created the rich percussion in this piece. The piece comes from the CD "Sacred Songs of the IMA in April 1994.




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