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  1. #211
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Tarab, etc

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea Deagon View Post
    We're busy tonight!

    I think it will help to quote some more from Racy's Making Music in the Arab World.

    Pages 5-6. Quote begins:

    [Tarab] denotes a number of closely related phenomena. First, the word is used generically sa a reference to the indigenous, essentially secular music of Near-Eastern Arab cities. In other words, it denotes the theoretically based, modally structured, and professionally oriented tradition of music making ... The term tarab is similar in meaning to the word fann, which literally means "art," or "craft," and has been used in reference to the local urban music. Quite prevalent is the expression fann al-tarab, which means "the art of tarab," and similarly denotes the music as an artistic domain. In a more specific sense, however, "tarab" refers to an older repertoire, which is rooted in the pre-World-War II musical practice in Egypt and the east-Mediterranean Arab world and is directly associated with emotional evocation.

    The term "tarab" also describes the musical effect per se, or more specifically, the extraordinary emotional state evoked by the music... In familiar terms, tarab can be described as a musically induced state of ecstasy, or as "enchantment" (Danielson 1997: 11-12), "aesthetic emotion" (Lagrange 1996:17) and "the feeling roused by music" (Shiloah 1995:16). In this book the familiar term "ecstasy" is used ... (End quote)

    Cathy, I didn't realize that tarab music was used to describe afropop. Oh dear. But no reason afropop can't produce ecstasy, I guess. I was using it mainly to refer to the music of the takht ensemble, since this form of music & ensemble existed before raqs sharqi and exhibited the kind of complexity raqs sharqi shows.

    As dancers we obviously gravitate to the "familiar terms" Racy describes, since the other uses seem to refer specifically to music rather than dance. But I do think the term is overused a bit now -- used to mean ecstasy but cut off from its roots in traditional musical forms. But hey, if afropop is tarab music, then we're not the only ones using tarab in this way.




    Dear Andrea,
    I have his and Dr Jack Logan's notes from "Arab Music Part 1" and his work discussing Arab improvisation "The many faces of improvisation; the Arab taqsim as a musical symbol". From what you quote from his work, and from reading my own information, it does seem he sees it as a musical situation in which this feeling of tarab might be created rather than it being a specific musical form. As dancers, I think we see music differently than Dr, Racy and when I attended a lecture by him, I noted that he is really, really in love with music and I think this state of tarab happens for him as easily as a Tibetan rinpoche falls into a stare of meditation. I do not think this is true for every musician. I respect him immensely.
    He also can go off into his own flights of fancy, such as his "Ancient Egypt"
    offering, which I hope to hear some day. Ann K. Rassmussen of William and Mary discussed it the Middle Eastern Studies Association Bulletin in 1997. The article , called "Made in America: Historical and Contemproray Recordings of Middle Eastern Music in the United States", discusses Racy and others and their music in some detail. I really REALLY am finding that I need to go back and look at my researches more often because I have a lot of info that I have forgotten about!
    In reading his work on taqsim, I can see that his writing style is very academic and precise in quality, but I still do not think that there is a specific kind of music called "tarab music", but that tarab can happen under the p[erfect conditions. He writes in his taqsim lecture that "the free composing and improvising along certain melodic models seemed to resist any rational typology of their grouping". Though he does not use the word "tarab" when discussing the altered state of consciousness of the improvisational work of jazz musician and the "duende" offerings of the Flamenco musician, he does hint that this is all a sort of magical process and I believe he relates it to the Arab tarab at some point in this lecture.... I just can not find where. He does discuss "saltanah" or ecstatic content in that is tied to feeling the cultural emotional language of the music, etc.
    Regards,
    A'isha
    Last edited by Aisha Azar; 04-09-2008 at 02:55 PM.

  2. #212
    Member Andrea Deagon's Avatar
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    Default more tarab

    One of the parts of Racy's work that particularly interested me was his discussion of the relationship between musicians and "good listeners," ones who were able to appreciate the music and reach the state of tarab easily. He also spoke of the jalsah, or small musical gathering, where socializing would lead to music making but everyone there knew they were really there to experience tarab, and that was what happened. He did present it as something that could be counted on to happen.

    I wish we dancers would do something like that. I am on hiatus from professional performing right now, and not sure if I'll go back to it. But I'm dancing beautifully, if I do say so myself. I would love to go to a gathering of dancers where the expectation was that we would all dance as the mood took us, and reach this state of tarab both as watchers and as performers. I think a dance version of the jalsah would be a wonderful change from the seminar show (where we see each other) and restaurant show (where we have to be careful about distracting people too much from their dinners), which are where most performing opportunities lie. I also find that the experience of tarab is elusive and ephemeral, but if we cultivated all of our dancing to feel and share it, and to reach it through the dancing of others as well, maybe we would find it more reliable. But we don't tend to use our energies in this way, more's the pity.

  3. #213
    Member Andrea Deagon's Avatar
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    One little note about tarab again -- I suspect it has a wide and varied semantic field (as linguists say) -- meaning that it can take on different meanings and holds meanings that do not align with any one word or statable concept in English. It may be like "classics," which describes my academic field, Classics/Classical Studies, which I have to subtitle "which is anything to do with ancient Greece and Rome" because to some people "classics" means great works of literature in English, while for others (or in other circumstances) it means anything that has withstood the test of time in any field. So it has a traditional meaning that has faded a little (the Greek and Roman stuff) but is usually understood more generally. And "Classic" has other implications as well. I had the impression that Dr. Racy was describing usages that would be part of the definition if you looked it up in a dictionary, and expanding on that. The concept of tarab as ecstasy/enchantment would then be a uniting element across the different usges.

  4. #214
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea Deagon View Post
    One of the parts of Racy's work that particularly interested me was his discussion of the relationship between musicians and "good listeners," ones who were able to appreciate the music and reach the state of tarab easily. He also spoke of the jalsah, or small musical gathering, where socializing would lead to music making but everyone there knew they were really there to experience tarab, and that was what happened. He did present it as something that could be counted on to happen.

    I wish we dancers would do something like that. I am on hiatus from professional performing right now, and not sure if I'll go back to it. But I'm dancing beautifully, if I do say so myself. I would love to go to a gathering of dancers where the expectation was that we would all dance as the mood took us, and reach this state of tarab both as watchers and as performers. I think a dance version of the jalsah would be a wonderful change from the seminar show (where we see each other) and restaurant show (where we have to be careful about distracting people too much from their dinners), which are where most performing opportunities lie. I also find that the experience of tarab is elusive and ephemeral, but if we cultivated all of our dancing to feel and share it, and to reach it through the dancing of others as well, maybe we would find it more reliable. But we don't tend to use our energies in this way, more's the pity.
    Andrea,

    I absolutely agree with you, and had this exact thought when reading that book. If I recall correctly Racy uses "tarab" for the feeling generated in the audience or other musicians and "saltanah" is the corresponding state in the musician or singer....I can't say I have ever been lucky enough to feel the latter. But I have felt the former from watching a very few dancers. I can't remember the word for "good listener" but that is what a really good dancer is. Perfectly at one with, moved by, the music. What you describe would be the ideal way to appreciate dance.

    For myself I can't imagine devoting the time and energy to it if what we were aiming to achieve was merely light background entertainment, carefully planned not meant to distract restaurant goers from their meals.

    Cathy

  5. #215
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Jelseh, etc

    DEar Andrea

    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea Deagon View Post
    One of the parts of Racy's work that particularly interested me was his discussion of the relationship between musicians and "good listeners," ones who were able to appreciate the music and reach the state of tarab easily. He also spoke of the jalsah, or small musical gathering, where socializing would lead to music making but everyonethere knew they were really there to experience tarab, and that was what happened. He did present it as something that could be counted on to happen.
    A'isha writes- I am not sure what Dr, Racy was discussing, but Jelseh is a type of folkloric music from the Arabian Gulf, in which oud is played and there is singing, usually presented at a party. I have a private tape of Abdulmajid Abdullah playing Jelseh style at a private party that one of my Gulf freinds attended and he explained the music and the meaning, etc. Yes, one of the purposes of Jelseh is to create a feeling of community and enchantment with the music, the time, the night, the feeling, etc. I have been fortunate enough to see tarab in action in a a very Arab way a couple of times when Gulf guys have gotten together for a party, singing and playing. The music is very soft and sort of plaintive, though I am not sure what the themes are.

    I wish we dancers would do something like that. I am on hiatus from professional performing right now, and not sure if I'll go back to it. But I'm dancing beautifully, if I do say so myself. I would love to go to a gathering of dancers where the expectation was that we would all dance as the mood took us, and reach this state of tarab both as watchers and as performers.

    A'isha writes- Mouna,Suheir and Aida Nour can do this for me even on video. Mouna can certainly create tarab in me in person as well!! I never got the pleasure of seeing Suhair perform in person, alas!!


    I think a dance version of the jalsah would be a wonderful change from the seminar show (where we see each other) and restaurant show (where we have to be careful about distracting people too much from their dinners), which are where most performing opportunities lie. I also find that the experience of tarab is elusive and ephemeral, but if we cultivated all of our dancing to feel and share it, and to reach it through the dancing of others as well, maybe we would find it more reliable. But we don't tend to use our energies in this way, more's the pity.

    A'isha writes- I agree.


    Regards,
    A'isha
    Last edited by Aisha Azar; 04-10-2008 at 01:35 PM.

  6. #216
    V.I.P. Aisha Azar's Avatar
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    Default Tarab, etc.

    Dear Andrea,

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea Deagon View Post
    One little note about tarab again -- I suspect it has a wide and varied semantic field (as linguists say) -- meaning that it can take on different meanings and holds meanings that do not align with any one word or statable concept in English.
    A'isha writes- I think this is very possible, but I do believe it is not based on any technical process, but instead on feeling and emotional content, though improvisation is its techincial core, nearly as I can tell.

    It may be like "classics," which describes my academic field, Classics/Classical Studies, which I have to subtitle "which is anything to do with ancient Greece and Rome" because to some people "classics" means great works of literature in English, while for others (or in other circumstances) it means anything that has withstood the test of time in any field. So it has a traditional meaning that has faded a little (the Greek and Roman stuff) but is usually understood more generally. And "Classic" has other implications as well. I had the impression that Dr. Racy was describing usages that would be part of the definition if you looked it up in a dictionary, and expanding on that. The concept of tarab as ecstasy/enchantment would then be a uniting element across the different usges.
    A'isha writes- I agree with this, as it makes perfect sense within his and others' attempts at definition.
    Regards,
    A'isha

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