Performance Portfolio

Hamami, M 2021, Performance Portfolio , DMA thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

Arabic music continues to struggle to reach an international presence in the music world due to one of two reasons: either it was not transcribed and notated properly, including stylistically correct ornamentation, or it was never written down at all. Thus, it was not archived and was subsequently unavailable to non-Arabic musicians. There are many reasons behind not finding a good source of books or research about the history of Arabic music. Today, it is rare to get a book or a resource that has a proper archiving of the history of notated Arabic music. The following are the main reasons: 1. Overcomplicating the documentation: In a book called “Scales, Rhythms, and Maqams” by Mohamad Imam, he discusses the math behind the creation of the music, and he goes into mathematical details about every note and the spaces between notes. He lists over 80 names for different scales without having clear examples of each scale and how to use it. No harmony at all was mentioned in the book, not even one notation for the researcher to play any music and learn these maqams. As a musician, I was looking for simplicity in listing the main maqams, then giving a musical example for each one on a sheet of music, preferably with a harmonious approach to every individual scale on what is suitable and what is to be avoided. 2. Not following the world music notation: In the book “Ahmad al Qabbani" by A. Abd Al Rahim, he lists good music sources and poets by Qabbani but unfortunately, the music has not been appropriately notated. Followers of Qabbani passed on the music without notation. Most of the musical pieces mentioned in the book were notated without a formal structure and no bar lines. A few pages from the book are attached as an example where the lack of accuracy and methodology in archiving those important pieces is apparent. Additionally, no harmony was applied. (Appendix 1, File 01). As a conductor, I was looking for scores to be able to share with my orchestra and perform them. So, from my experience, I had to write an arrangement for the pieces from a single melody line, and in some cases from an audio file only. 3. The confusion in the source of Arabic music: Historically, there is a debate on the origin of Arabic music. Some claim that Mwashahat (single Mwashah, a Genre of Arabic music 7 that represented the collective musical styles in North West Africa, Spain, and Portugal around the 12th century) is the foundation of Arabic music which started in Andalusia. Others claim that Arabic music took the shape it is in today in the Levant, specifically, Aleppo, where Qodood (single Qad, another genre of Arabic music) comes from Aleppo in Syria, Al Qodood AL Halabieh, is a genre of music that is based on a pre-existing melody that is taken to a poet to write lyrics that fit into this melody. This all led to what we have today, where lots of the music was lost, stolen, or not documented in the first place. After reading a few books about Arabic music history, I found a big gap between music in the early 12th century and 19th century and modern days. - There is no clear record of any music for over seven centuries. - Regardless of the origin of Arabic music, it is a challenge to find a scorebook for any piece. - After introducing the western notation of the music and having the song written down for the orchestra, artists started going to recording studios, but the habit was, or still is, they do not keep the sheets afterwards. 4. Literacy was a big part too; just like poetry, the music did not start at a school or an academy; it was played at "Jalsat" (social gathering), where people who were outstanding poets had someone to adjust a melody onto their poem and sing it, so they were mainly song types - not purely music. Compared to Western music, such as Symphony, Concerto, and Sonata, Arabic music has Lounge, Samaie, and Doolab. Luckily, these styles of music are found in a few books, only without arrangements. My Research Over the last thirteen years, I have been commissioning arrangements of various musical pieces taken from the Arabic musical tradition. The principal purpose of my DMA is to expose and explore various parts of my archive of documented Arabic musical pieces through a series of performances, recordings, and broadcasts as follows: 8 • Project 1 – Premiere recordings of live performances for solo violin in conjunction with the Dubai Opera • Project 2 – Premiere recordings of live performances for solo violin and orchestra in conjunction with the Dubai Opera • Project 3 – Video of the lecture recital that shows the impact the geographical aspect has on musical dialect • Project 4- Premiere live webcast performance for solo violin and harp I started my musical journey at a very young age and learned much about performances and composing at that age, allowing me to become a part of the professional music community fairly early in life. I began touring with orchestras around the Levant area and Europe when I was 15 years old. Later, I worked with international musicians in various parts of the world, such as the UK, Austria, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, Australia, the USA, and the Persian Gulf. During my career as a violinist, I have repeatedly encountered a technical challenge that, in my opinion, is impeding the progress of Arabic music and preventing it from turning into an accessible international musical art form able to be performed by musicians around the world. The principal challenges of disseminating Arabic music seem to fall into two main areas, depending on the context: 1. Working with Arabic musicians: During rehearsals, the most experienced musician or the one who knows the music from memory starts playing, and the rest of the musicians copy them, thereby creating the full part. Some of them then choose to either harmonize or add different fillings and ornaments to colour the piece of music. This continues until, at some point, all agree on one arrangement to follow. Thirteen years ago, I started my orchestra to back me up as a soloist and orchestrate the music I perform. I contacted various well-established composers from the Arab world, and they shared some of their music. I was given a one-line melody without a full score and parts for the orchestra to perform in each case. In 2019, I organized a concert to perform the music of a composer/guitarist, and the process lacked a clear score and arrangement (see page 38). 9 2. Working with non-Arabic musicians: When non-Arabic musicians are asked to play Arabic music, they always ask the same questions (Is the Arabic music notated? Can we play it? Is it the same as western music?). We are now in the 21st century, where technology has spread to every level of our daily life, and yet, Arabic music is still not professionally written and made accessible for musical professionals. In light of these challenges, I am proposing some possible solutions since Arabic music is the same as any other form of music in the general definition, it just has not yet been written or archived appropriately. I feel the need, through my DMA, to start a documentation initiative, and through performing the music also, I will be able to showcase the different uses of the embellishments, in addition to showing the variations in using the same Arabic maqam scale and how it depends on the geographical location and the style of the music. Aims and Overall purpose Therefore, the goal of my DMA is to achieve the following: 1. The presentation of a self-curated series of Arabic music recordings serves as a means of promoting and raising awareness of this beautiful musical art form. 2. The creation of fully-notated scores enables the music to be played by international musicians, and it exposes them to extracts from Arabic music history drawn from the past 200 years. 3. Adapting and rearranging the music to suit different forms of musical groups such as bands, quartets, orchestras, and soloists. 4. Notating and writing music ornaments from Syria and Egypt covering three main eras; 1880 to 1950, 1950 to 1990, and 1990 to date. 5. Describing the main differences in interpreting Arabic maqams according to prevailing local and regional cultural influences.

Item Type: Thesis (DMA)
Contributors: Dewhurst, R (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Depositing User: USIR Admin
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2022 08:42
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2022 08:42
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/65459

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