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Mauritania: Mauritania Music Folk


Mauritania Music Folk

The Oud (Ud)

The Oud, a central instrument of Arabic music, is a stringed instrument with an ancient history. It probably originated over 3,500 year ago in Persia, where it was called a Barbat (oud). A similar instrument is shown in Egyptian paintings and was used in the times of the Pharaohs. The Arabic name, Al Oud, means wood and specifically thin wood. The strings were originally made of gut, and are now often made of plastic. The moors or the Crusaders carried the Oud to Spain, where it entered Europe as the lute ("al-ud") and was ultimately transformed into the 6 stringed fretted guitar.

The earliest Arab Oud musician was possibly Eben Sareeg. In the past, Arab composers wrote exclusively for Oud. It is a solo instrument used also for Taqasim (improvisations) accompanied by song. The Oud sound box is pear shaped, and it has a relatively short handle and no frets. The precise shape and dimensions differ throughout the Arab world, as do the number of strings - up to six and even seven.
Since the 9th century the musical tradition of the Mediterranean Sea was based in great part on the Oud.
The heart of Oud music are the Makams. Makams are also playable on other instruments, but for Arab music, Makams are executed on the Oud. Makams are roughly equivalent to Indian Ragas or to Western "keys," but they are more complex than "keys" and unlike Ragas, they do not have any allegorical significance. The Makam (Turkish makam, plural makamlar; Arabic maqam, plural maqamat) are scales or 'composition rules'. The makam names designate an important note in the scale (i.e. Turkish Cargah, Arabic Chahargah: fourth position), or a city (i.e. Esfahan, it is sometimes spelled as Isfahan), a landscape (i.e. Turkish Hicaz, Arabic Hijazi), a person (i.e. Kurdi) or a poetic abstraction (i.e. Suzidil: heart glimmer).

Based on the use of untempered intervals (with as many as 53 microtones amplifying the western octave), a given makam follows a particular scale and a set of associated musical practices. Each makam joins a tetrachord (Turkish dortlu), and a pentachord (Turkish besli). Certain rules/characteristics of a makam may include the entry tone (Turkish giris, Arabic mabda), the final tone (Turkish karar, Arabic qarar) which may or may not be the same tone as the entry tone, the leading tone (Turkish yeden), dominant (Turkish guclu) and tonic (Turkish durak), as well as stressed secondary tonal centers. The seyir (path, way) (Arabic zahir) of a makam is determined by the direction of the melody, which may be either ascending (Turkish cikici) or descending (Turkish inici) or a combination of the two (Turkish inici-cikici). Range (makam may be extended above and below the octave without repeating), modulation, temperament, melody types, and cadential endings (i.e. suspended cadences) may also determine a makam's make-up. Compound makamlar exist which combine elements from two makamlar. Thousands of makamlar have been theoretically conceived though only a few hundred have been used. Of these, about one hundred have been fully developed into musical settings.

The Darbouka (Darbuka)- Middle East Musical Instrument

The darbouka (darbuka) or doumbek or tablah is an hour-glass-shaped drum popular throughout the Middle east. The body has approximately an hour-glass shape and the skin is stretched tight with rope or leather thongs or even nails. The body may be made of copper, ceramic, pottery or wood. It is used a great deal in belly dancing music.


The Ney (Nay)- Middle East Musical Instrument

The nay ( nai, nye, ney) is a simple, long, end-blown flute that is the main wind instrument of Middle Eastern music and the only wind instrument in classical Arabic music. It is very ancient instrument. The nay is literally as old as the pyramids. Ney players are seen in wall paintings in the Egyptian pyramids and neys have been found in the excavations at Ur in Iraq. Thus, the ney has been played continuously for 4,500-5,000 years. It is one of the oldest musical instruments still in use.

The nay is made of a piece of hollow cane or reed (nay is an old Persian word for reed) with five or six finger holes. Modern nays may be made of metal. Pitch differs, depending on the region and the finger arrangement. A highly skilled ney player can reach as many as three octaves, though it is more common to have several ney players in a traditional orchestra to cover different ranges.

In the Arab world, the nay is sometimes called qassaba, which also means piece of reed. The nay is a favorite instrument of the Sufi.

Nays are keyed instruments. In the Arabic system, there are 7 nays. The Kerdene is called a "C" instrument. That means that the second lowest note is a C (the first being a Bb). The second is the Doga in D. The third is the Boussalik in E. The fourth is the Jaharka for F. The fifth is the Nawa for G; the sixth is Husseini for A, and the seventh is the Ajam for B.

Arabic and Turkish nays has 7 holes, one of which is on the back and usually closed with the thumb. Each hole has practically a whole tone interval capacity so that for example, if you play a D you can easily go to D sharp with the only movement of your lips and amount of air you blow, and you may even play an E if you move the instrument and blow more strongly. The thumb hole usually allows playing 4 notes . For the Doga (D) nay these notes would be A, Bb, B3/4, and B.

Arabic and Turkish nays are played the same way, putting the mouth to one end of the flute and blowing in a somewhat oblique direction to the tube. The air bounces off one inner side of the flute and produces the sound, somewhat like blowing over a bottle The Iranian nay uses the Turkoman inter-dental blowing system, adopted in the late 1700s. The modern Iranian nay differs from the Arab and Turkish Nay. It has five or six fingerholes, instead of seven, a different mouthpiece and a lower placement of thumbhole. The musician uses the inter-dental method- he or she puts the mouthpiece of the ney between the teeth and the upper jaw and directs the air with the tongue, producing a different sound from the Arabic-Turkish instrument. . This method can also be used with Arabic-Turkish) nays.

The Nay is intimately and inextricably connected with Sufism, as poignantly expressed in the opening words of the "Mathwani," the "spiritual couplets" written over 700 years ago by the famous Sufi poet and sage Jalal Al-Din Al-Rumi:

The Qanun - Middle East Musical Instrument


The qanun is derived from the ancient Egyptian harp and has been used in Arab music since the tenth century Its Arabic name means 'rule' or 'law.' It was introduced to Europe as early as the 12th century, and became known in its European form during the 14th to the 16th century as a psaltery or zither.

The qanun consists of a trapezoid-shaped flat board over which 81 strings are stretched in groups of three to produce 24 treble chords consisting of three chords to each note. The instrument is placed flat on the knees or table of the musician; the strings are plucked with the finger or with two plectra, one plectrum attached to the forefinger of each hand. .The modern Arab qanun has two to five levers for every string (in triples). Intervals can be minutely adjusted by turning the levers, which control the tension of the strings; permitting a full range of keys. The right hand plays in the treble clef and the left in the bass.

The Bandir (Bendir) Drum- Middle East Musical Instrument

The Bandir, or Bendir is a wooden frame drum with a membrane, forty or more centimeters in diameter. The drum is kept vertical by inserting the thumb of the left hand in a special hole in the frame. Two strings of gut are stretched across the inside back of the drum, touching the skin, to provide resonance. The Bandir, or Bendir is used in religious ceremonies. In Arab countries, where it is very common, it is also used in the special ceremonies of the Sufi. The Sufi tradition is strongly characterized by the use of music, rhythm and dance to reach particular states of consciousness. Sufis relate that Jellal-ud-din Rumi, totally absorbed in the contemplation of the Creator and inspired by Him, suddenly began to rotate rhythmically, while his gown, like the movements of his hands, drew a sort of circle in the air (gestures that were to become the main feature of the sacred dance of the Sufi Rakh). The memory of this "vision" and of that moment of mystical ecstasy continues to be celebrated - to the present - in the dances of the darwishes (dervishes).

The Daf (Daff) Drum - Middle East Musical Instrument

Midde East Instruments Sufi Musif - Daf DrumThe daf (or dap or daff or riqq) is a frame drum, originally Persian or Kurdish, and is the ancestor of the western Tambourine. It has a large frame covered with goat-skin , with one or more rows of metal rings or chains adding a jingling effect. The daf comes in various forms and is used in Sufi music.

When the daf drum is tilted forward, the rings can touch the skin to make a buzzing sound. Snapping the fingers against the head and shaking the frame creates additional rhythms.

In Iran, Sufis use the daf as part of their Zikr (spiritual chanting) rituals.

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