Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Sound of al-Andalus. Muslim Spain; Echoes Today

The Sound of Al-Andalus 711-1492
Meet Ziryab, Paniagua.
Andalusian music then and now

One Ahmad al-Yamani became sick at Malaga, on the southern coast of then-Muslim Spain.  It was 1015 ACE.  He is not to be confused with a contemporary Ahmad al-Yamani, see http://sa.linkedin.com/in/alyamani. The individual of interest here is a traveler who felt ill-- in the 11th Century -- and could get no rest at any lodging.  There was too much music around him in Malaga --"strings of lutes, tunburs and other instruments vibrated from all directions, and different voices blended in singing." See http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/201104/listening.for.al-andalus.htm.
The tunbur may be the tanbur, see http://www.tanbursociety.com/history.htm. Mulberry wood, stringed instrument, long neck, two gut strings. Kurdish, Persian, ancient Babylonian. Roots, roots. Ancient Egypt, Zoroaster.

The music of al-Andalus fostered poetry forms, song, inspired troubadours and was heard echoing in the Renaissance. Imagine the melodic lines: Old Spanish, Gypsy, flamenco, Medieval.  There is a term for the interaction:   convivencia, a cultural tolerance, a complicated getting-along in al-Andalus.

1. Eduardo Paniagua, musician today in Madrid, is pursuing a blend of imagination and "musical archeology" to find threads and blend them into something new. Where does he look? manuscripts, old palace walls, poems, drawings.  How does his work sound?  Hear it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8s0Qqd0sjg.

2.  Ziryab, from Baghdad, and of north African or mixed heritage, descriptions of olive skin, thick black hair. He set up a music school in 822 in Cordoba, see this fantastic life at http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Ziryab. Muslims brought slaves back from Africa, which could explain the tradition of his ethnicity. He had lived in Tunisia, Syria, many places. It is not clear how he came to Cordoba. 

Ziryab was a man of broad talents:  not only music, but fashion, astronomy, manners.  He introduced use of the tablecloth, deodorant, a toothpaste, and, in an era of middle-parted long hair, he cut his in long bangs in front, then longer hair pulled back with little spit curls at the sides.  He also made popular shaving among men. Women:  he opened a cosmetology and hair salon. He introduced asparagus as a popular dish, and started eating three course meals. Glass goblets, not metal. History!  Geography!  This man had it all, was it all. He also introduced the "banquet" form of dining.

Salute. http://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=A0oG7kyaN01PHngALolXNyoA?p=Ziryab&fr=yfp-t-701&fr2=piv-web. More modern oud music, see http://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=A0oG7jriXk1PxSQAzE1XNyoA?p=Ziryab%20oud&fr=yfp-t-701&fr2=piv-web.

Ziryab played the oud, think a form of lute, and added a fifth pair of strings. He was innovative, using an eagle's beak or quill instead of a wooden pick. See it at http://www.arabinstruments.com/112730/The-Oud-instrument:  11 strings, five pairs and a sole.  Here it accompanying Katy Perry in Firework at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGi5AOXBkwA.  This modern use of the oud adds another dimension to the melody, see the video's Hungarian roots of place, at http://hungaryroadways.blogspot.com/2011/02/shooting-flames-katy-perry-firecracker.html#!/2011/02/shooting-flames-katy-perry-firecracker.html.