Aman Mohammed: La Tradition du Hejaz/The Tradition of Hejaz

Aman Mohammed: La Tradition du Hejaz/The Tradition of Hejaz (CD); OCORA Collection; OCORA C560158; 2001; Paris (02/14/16 Google search; landing page description for the following: (http://archive.aramcoworld.com/issue/200702/music/default.htm) – (Information not accessible); Maison de Radio France, Piece 1275, 116 Avenue du President Kennedy, 75786, Paris, Cedex 16 (02/14/16: (https://www.discogs.com/label/57784-Ocora)).

Per Wikipedia.org, accessed 02/14/2016, OCORA (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocora) specializes in world music field recordings. It was established as part of state-owned Radio France in 1957, located at Maison de La Radio along the River Seine.

  1. Ya Makkat al-Khayr (04:47): Surprising in that some of the trope/trills sound almost reminiscent of Hebrew, down to even the “New York”/Ashkenazi pronunciation.
  2. Ahimu bi-Ruhi (05:59): A familiar tune, but I don’t like the styling. Too choppy. Would have preferred this in different regional dialect, with more whole, rounded vocalizations, rather than drawn and nasal.
  3. Hadha al-Futur (Ya Man Hawahu) (08:29): Soft, nice musical intro… Wish joining voice was so, but it’s sung with sufficient emotion to reflect the words of its poetry.
  4. Ayyuha al-Zabyu Masul al-Lama (05:39): Track 3 passed into Track 4 (this one) without much notice. Can do work with this in the background.
  5. Wa-lamma Talaqayna (07:32): Nice poem in translation. Too many scratches on this borrowed c.d. to hear it well. No discernible melody, so not as nice a match to the lyrics.
  6. Ya Ahl al-Hawa (09:36): Sounds like country music, Saudi-style.
  7. Ya Helwah Kasr el-Khawatir leh (03:05): This one starts off beautifully, musically. The singing is nice, too, but the sounds of some of the words in the beginning don’t sound so nice. But it is a nice song with rhythm and nice singing. Maybe the best song on the whole album.
  8. Ya Sayyid al-Helwin (10:25): This is a really cool song. It sounds like ‘oasis’ meets ‘Orientalism’. Written by Ibrahim Khafaji, author of the Saudi Arabian national anthem, it draws on the Red Sea region, which is probably its appeal to me in sounding almost like a Jewish tribe in the Arabian areas, just across the sea from Israel. I think this might even top number seven, just prior to it.
  9. Jadak al-ghayth (10:08): This sounds like an octave-lower version of number eight, which is why I was confused when song ten popped up and I thought I missed number nine. This is beautiful in a sombre, haunting way. It does blend from song number eight and I think they should always be played together.
  10. Bi-Habib al-Qulub (05:37): No melody. One of the notes sung is done with clarity and beauty.

From the liner notes: Hijaz: Arabic for “barrier”; name of mountain chain running parallel to the Red Sea, separating the coastal plain to the west and the desert plateau of Nejd to the east. King Abd Al-Aziz Ibn Saud conquered Mecca in 1925 from Cherif Hussein (whose descendants went on to rule Iraq and Jordan).

Great liner notes include a quick, brief synopsis of Saudi/Middle Eastern history and a great compendium of study of the Arab styles of music and the origins of the styles by ethnomusicologist, Jean Lambert. Most surprising is the map showing the word, ‘Israel’, on it. Track 5 is a nice poem (the words to most of the tracks are translated).

It would be worth getting this c.d. just for songs 7, 8, and 9 alone.

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