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STUDY GUIDE: Sonia M’Barek’s Concert with Special Guests : NY based Bassam Saba ensemble
and quanun player Slim Jaziri from Tunisia
Friday, May 8th, 2015
Grades: 5-9
Presented as part of the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)’s Young
Audience Program
Video References:
Sonia M’Barek is renowned for her exquisite renderings of maluf (Tunisian court music traditionally
performed by men), music from Egypt and Lebanon, and innovative contemporary music rooted in the
centuries-old traditions of Al-Andalus.
In a special interactive concert, Sonia M’Barek will introduce students to Arabi c musical traditions and
instruments and invite them to her in specific passages of some of her songs. Students will also learn
about how Tunisia is situated in a Middle-Eastern context. She will be accompanied by New York based,
multi-talented musician Bassam Saba and his ensemble as well as preeminent qanun player Slim Jaziri
from Tunisia.
Sonia and her guests will be performing a range of songs that vary from traditional to contemporary
pieces. Songs have been composed by famous composers such as Tahar guizani and Fethi Zghonda
and some are original pieces by the artists themselves. Each song will be introduced by Sonia, and
students will learn about the poetic meaning and context in which the songs were composed. Songs
wills be performed in both Arabic and Spanish, which will be a great exposure for students.
Sonia M’Barek: Tunisian singer Sonia M’Barek is renowned for her exquisite renderings of maluf
(Tunisian court music traditionally performed by men), music from Egypt and Lebanon, and innovative
contemporary music rooted in the centuries-old traditions of Al-Andalus. Her soul-piercing voice
resonates with the euphoric, transcendental quality.
Bassam Saba Ensemble: Bassam Saba is a lebaneseone of the nation's leading figures of Arabic music.
Saba is a world-renowned nay virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist, performing on oud, violin, buzuq, saz
and western classical flute.
Slim Jaziri: Slim Jaziri was born in Tunis in 1965. At a very early age, he received his first influences in
music from his father Abdulkader Jaziri, one of the exceptional musicians in qanun. Slim Jaziri is now a
member of one of the most important music ensembles in Tunisia and also teaches qanun in the High
Institute of Music in Tunisia.
Instruments: Here is a brief introduction to some of the instruments you will see and hear on stage
during the performance and other instruments from the region.
OudThe Oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in
Arabic, Greek, Turkish, Persian, Jewish, Byzantine, Azerbaijanian,
Armenian, North African (Chaabi, Classical, and Spanish Andalusian),
Somali and Middle Eastern music. Construction of the oud is pretty similar to that of the lute. The
modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths. The oud
is readily distinguished from the lute by its lack of frets and smaller neck. The Oud is also considered an
ancestor of the guitar.
QuanunThe Quanun is a string instrument played in much of the Middle
East, Central Asia, and southeastern Europe. The name derives
from the Arabic word kānun, which means "rule, norm,
principle" which comes from the ancient Greek word 'κανών'
also meaning rule. Its traditional music is based on maqamat,
which is traditional melodic Arabic music. It is a type of large
zither (stringed instrument family) with a narrow trapezoidal soundboard. Strings are stretched over a
single bridge poised on fish-skins on one end, attached to tuning pegs at the other end. The instrument
is placed in your lap or on a surface and is played with two hands.
NayThe Nay (ney) is an end-blown flute that figures prominently in
Middle Eastern music. In some of these musical traditions, it is the
only wind instrument used. The ney has been played continuously
for 4,500–5,000 years, making it one of the oldest musical
instruments still in use. The instrument consists of a hollow
cylinder with finger-holes. Sometimes a brass or plastic
mouthpiece is placed at the top to protect the wood from
damage, but this plays no role in the sound production. The nay consists of a piece of hollow cane or
reed with five or six finger holes and one thumb hole.
The violin, also known as a fiddle, is a string instrument, usually with four
strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member
of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the viola,
and the cello. The violinist produces sound by drawing a bow across one
or more strings (which may be stopped by the fingers of the other hand
to produce a full range of pitches), by plucking the strings (with either
hand), or by a variety of other techniques.
ViolaThe viola is a bowed string instrument. It is slightly larger than a violin in size and has
a lower and deeper sound than a violin. Since the 18th century it has been the middle
voice of the violin family, between the violin (which is tuned a perfect fifth above it) and the cello (which
is tuned an octave below it).
BuzuqThe buzuq is a long-necked fretted lute related to the Greek
bouzouki and Turkish saz. This instrument may be looked upon
as a larger and deeper-toned relative of the saz, to which it
could be compared in the same way as the viola to the violin in
Western music.
SazThe Saz is also interchangably referred to as the bağlama and it is a
stringed musical instrument shared by various cultures in the Eastern
Mediterranean, Near East, and Central Asia regions. Like the Western lute
and the Middle-Eastern oud, it has a deep round back, but a much longer
neck. It can be played with a plectrum or with a fingerpicking style known
as şelpe. Instruments resembling today's saz/bağlama have been found in
archaeological excavations of Sumerian and Hittite mounds in Anatolia
dating before Common Era, and in ancient Greek works.
Musical Traditions:
Al-Andalus: is a classical style of Arabic music found in different styles across the Maghreb (Algeria
,Morocco, and Tunisia, and Libya in the form of the Ma'luf style). It originated out of the music of AlAndalus (Muslim Iberia) between the 9th and 15th centuries. This type of music is very poetic.
Andalusian classical music was allegedly born in the Emirate of Cordoba (Al-Andalus) in the 9th century.
By the 11th century, Muslim Iberia had become a center for the manufacture of instruments. These
goods spread gradually to Provence, influencing French troubadours and trouvères and eventually
reaching the rest of Europe.
Mass resettlements of Muslims and Sephardi Jews from Cordoba, Sevilla, Valencia, and Granada, fleeing
the Reconquista, further expanded the reach of Andalusian music. Andalusia was probably the main
route of transmission of a number of Near-Eastern musical instruments used in European music: the lute
from the oud, rebec from the rebab, the guitar from qitara and Greek kithara, and the naker from the
Audio Excerpts:
Ma’luf/Malouf: Tunisia is well-known for malouf, a kind of music imported from Andalusia after the
Spanish conquest in the 15th century. Malouf has its roots in Spain and Portugal, and is closely related
to genres with a similar history throughout North Africa, including malouf's Libyan cousin, Algerian
gharnati and Moroccan ala or Andalusi. During the Ottoman era, malouf was highly influenced from
Turkish music. Even now many malouf examples are very similar to Turkish classical music.
Audio Excerpts:
Geographical Context: