Umm Kulthum - Star of the East
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Why do people love Umm Kulthum so very much?
Enter - Tarab - What is Tarab?

"Tarab is a concept of enchantment," Danielson says. "It's usually associated with vocal music, although instrumental music can produce the same effect, in which the listener is completely enveloped in the sound and the meaning in a broad experiential sense, and is just completely carried away by the performance." Virginia Danielson

This is a brief educational video that explains the concept of "Tarab"
Umm Kulthum singing "Howa-Sahih El-Hawa Ghalab" - ("Is it True that Love Conquers all?")
 أم كلثوم - هو صحيح الهوى غلاب Recorded In Rabat, Morocco, July 2, 1968

"Tarab: A state of enchantment"

"Not only is Kulthum revered because of her association with Egyptian political life, but also her longevity as a performer, a pinnacle of traditional Egyptian values, and her raw talent and ability to bring both herself and the listener to the plane of tarab, or the state of enchantment. In all, Umm Kulthum’s main contribution to society may very well be bringing back “classical” Arab music back to Egypt, when many of her contemporaries were forsaking it for more “western” sounds." UMM KULTHUM By David Stupplebeen.


"Making music in the Arab world: the culture and artistry of ṭarab" by Ali Jihad Racy

"A. J. Racy is well known as a scholar of ethnomusicology and as a distinguished performer and composer. In this pioneering book, he provides an intimate portrayal of the Arab musical experience and offers insights into how music generally affects us all. The focus is tarab, a multifaceted concept that has no exact equivalent in English and refers to both the indigenous music and the ecstatic feeling associated with it. Richly documented, the book examines various aspects of the musical craft, including the basic learning processes, how musicians become inspired, the love lyrics as tools of ecstasy, the relationship between performers and listeners, and the influence of technological mediation and globalization. Racy also probes a variety of world musical and ecstatic contexts and analyses theoretical paradigms from other related disciplines. Written in a lucid style, Making Music in the Arab World will engage the general reader as well as the specialist."

Read at google books, beginning on Page 184. "Tarab in Perspective" begins on Page 191


A nice review article by Banning Eyre: "Making Music in the Arab World: The Culture and Artistry of Tarab" A. J. Racy

"Racy explores the experience of the performing musician in his chapter called "Saltanah." Derived from the word sultan, or "ruler," saltanah describes that temporary, self-absorbed, creative ecstasy that overpowers, and empowers, a musician when all elements of a performance come together perfectly. Here again, Racy's experience as a player adds palpable authenticity to the discussion, as he takes the reader inside the musicians' concept of "feeling" and "sweetness" as inborn gifts, looking for the opportunity to manifest themselves. The role of the listener is key here as well, and Racy lets us taste the playful language of "pleasurable affliction" that deeply moved listeners resort to, calling an oud player "You, Mischievous One!," or exclaiming to a performer, "Be merciful," or "Are you trying to make us die today?"

Such touches bring the subject to life while taking nothing from its ultimate seriousness. That seriousness becomes vivid in Racy's treatment of "Saltanah spoilers." A single wrong note, imperfectly tuned string, jarring modulation, exaggerated ornament, ill-timed or awkward cadence can utterly erase the carefully constructed web of art and emotion that leads to tarab, and its more specialized manifestation, saltanah.

Only in his final chapter, "Tarab in Perspective," does Racy resort to the sort of scholarly tone that may leave some general listeners behind. But even as he works to reconcile his ideas with key existing works in the field, he makes powerful points about tarab music, about its life in cities, even amid the decadence and sexuality of nightclubs, and he draws parallels with related concepts in other musical traditions, like duende in flamenco, and hal in Persian music."


"You would think that in all music the audience is important and this is true, but in Arabic music the audience/listener play an especially important role.  This is because Arabic music is an interactive music were both the audience and the musicians participate in the process of tarab.  I have used the word tarab in every one of my posts on this blog because tarab is the most important aspect of Arabic music.  It is what distinguishes Arabic music from Western music."  Oudman586


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