Religious singing brings Arab singing out of crisis | Nidal Qousha

The Damascus Quartet Ensemble for the Anthem, at Dar al-Assad’s Culture and Arts ‘Damascus Opera’, presented a concert a few days ago, entitled “Qad, Dawr, and Taqtuqa”, with the participation of Mahmoud Al- Tair is Mawlawiya Troupe. In it, the group consisting of Muhammad al-Shaar, Mustafa al-Sheikh, Mahmoud al-Sayyad and Ghassan al-Srouji sang a number of modern religious songs, in which they toured through the musical compositions of the famous composer Omar al-Batsh. By composer Suhail Arafa, as well as a track of the music of the song “Al Hob Kulla” by Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi, as well as a performance of “Habibi Ala Al Dunya” by artist Sabah Fakhri and other idols that was admired by the audience.

How did cod originate?

A noble art that carries lofty values

It has been proven that the art of cod was first introduced in Aleppo by the Syrian saint St. Ephrem was found in the year 306 AD. The saint noticed that people stay away from performing religious songs in the church and rather memorize emotional or popular songs that are characterized by the lightness and liveliness of the melodies, and so he decided to bring those tunes to the church to the worshipers to be sung. Within the church, he just came from him with the basic melody that people love and formulated religious words that fit his purpose. People were attracted to the experience and adopted those songs with the tunes of songs they loved.

Al-Halabi researcher Abdel-Fattah Qala Ji writes in the definition of cod: “The word can mean size. Religious melodies came from the Sufi corners to search for words in which yarn and social issues, so the melody, which was primarily a religious hymn and formulated and jurisprudence, words that come into daily life, it is the same as this and from here the cod originated. Al-Qudud was known by the names of his writers and not by the names of his (mostly unknown) composers. “Those who composed al-Qudud are poets, but they have a good taste in music, and some of them were also musicians.”

Religious singing needs more and more attention and official government support, generally there is a large incubator for it and many followers

Al-Qad’s connection with the city of Aleppo is largely due to its excellent geographical location, which made it an important commercial and social center on the Sypad, as the presence of its radio played a key role. Throughout its history, a number of singers have become known for performing Qudoud in Aleppo, including: Sheikh Abdul Ghani Al-Nabulsi, Sheikh Abu Al-Huda Al-Sayadi, Muhammad Al-Darwish, Shaker Al-Homsi, Jamal Al-Din Malas, Sabri Mudallal, and the most famous of them is Sabah Fakhri.

On 16 December 2021, UNESCO included Al-Qudud Al-Halabi on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage.

The Levant has an ancient history of religious singing, beginning as a Christian since the first centuries of the spread of the Christian religion, especially with Saint Ephrem. Which is considered the oldest in the history of this art. With the advent of Islam, he found Islamic religious song that evolved from the first form that originated with the voice of Bilal bin Rabah, the first muezzin in Islam, and from the first Islamic song “The full moon rose over us . “

And over hundreds of years, the hymn changed and developed, and it had a special place, specifically in the month of Ramadan, as well as on the journey of the venerable Mahmal to the Hajj in Makkah Al-Mukarramah. It was surrounded by special rituals and was held in palaces and houses, and the composers developed the performance in it, so that it was presented in choirs, as each choir performed a lyrical doctrine in a low and continuous voice, while a one sings alone with a muwashah or a specific song. And he had special places in the hospices and corners in neighborhoods and cities, and some percussion instruments like the tambourine entered it, and poems were offered to the Sufis like Ibn Al-Farid and Al-Busairi. And Jalal al-Din al-Rumi introduced the Mevlevi dance and they were connected to each other, and Egypt saw an important development in this field in the first half of the twentieth century, as many composers worked to bring it up. wy, the most prominent of which was Riyad al-Sunbati, who in the voice of Umm Kulthum presented a group of well-known religious poems, including: Nahj al-Burdah, “Ask My Heart,” “Hadith al-Rouh,” “Walid al-Huda, “and others.

history and competition

Religious song ... lofty ideas and values ​​passed down from generation to generation
Religious song … lofty ideas and values ​​passed down from generation to generation

The Damascus Quartet Ensemble for Anthem presents its lyrical works in religious singing, while being aware of the history of this art, its antiquity and its ability to compete in our contemporary life.

Mahmoud Al-Sayyad, a member of the group, told the Al-Arab newspaper: “Before 1900, there was no religious or emotional singing, but they were together. In the era of the sheikhs in Egypt, they were religious and emotionally sung.songs together.After that, emotional singing changed, and some saw that it sometimes moved away from the spiritual upliftment of religious singing, so that they separated from each other.

And he continues, “Religious singing still retains its splendor, as it uses music less than emotional singing, and it requires the presence of singers who have strong, capable, and artistically educated voices, and are able to perform different kinds of singing. And the roles and Andalusians, to develop his artistic and musical culture, and to achieve the desired success.On the contrary, one of the singers may be famous and strongly present on the scene, even if he memorizes only a part of what the singer memorizes.

And he adds: “Religious chanting is present throughout the Arab world, and it is in Syria that it carries a cultural character and has an audience and followers who listen to it, even from the non-religious segments, because they are psychological find comfort in that which removes the cares of life from them, especially when it carries lofty ideas and values. “

In his statement to Al-Arab, Al-Sayyad explained that “the idea in our party is to find new religious words on an existing and familiar melody for people, emphasizing that we are not the ones who created these melodies. , as we give the tunes to their owners.Here differed opinions.Some of them found it to be a theft of well-known and popular tunes, and another group found it to be an enrichment of arts and culture, and therefore, this method will restore this melody in people’s memory and will be able to live on it for long periods of time. “

Religious singing is present throughout the Arab world, and in Syria it carries a cultural character and has an audience, even from non-religious segments

Regarding the existence and development of cod, al-Sayyad says: “The oldest source of cod was by Saint Ephrem in Aleppo, when he tried to attract people to the church through some beautiful and graceful melodies that they loves and sings, so he presented his religious songs to these melodies. He found that people accepted this song, and he started singing outside the church, in houses, markets and others. We were dealing with the same thing, we came up with familiar and familiar tunes and put new words to it that serve our purposes in religious chanting, and we did not take cod in its traditional form. For example, there is the song “Al Hob Kulla” by author Baligh Hamdi, known and loved by the audience. We formulated new words for it and presented it in the show, and we generally have more than one song for Mrs. Kulthum’s songs.

He explains, “I confirm that we do not assign the tunes to us, and we call the owner of the tune. In our most recent concert, we performed to the tune of “Al Hob Kulla” and “Ya Mal Al Sham” and others. There is a segment that liked this experience and became listeners and followers. And we went into a new concept where we put money that is basically an improvisational form of singing. We presented the “Habibi If I Ghabbat” money by artist Sabah Fakhri, in a lyrical form with specific musical scores, qafalat and Arabs. He maintained the unity of his singing without improvisations, despite his mastery of this art. We presented this money with the same poetic beams, voice extensions and locks, so people enjoyed the experience, and the reason is that the melody is familiar to them and calms their conscience. ”

Mahmoud Al-Sayyad believes that religious singing is a strong competitor to emotional singing and can reach advanced ranks. He says: “We try to present a meaningful and noble art that carries good values. In the Damascus Quartet of Anthem, we are not against emotional singing, but rather against it, especially when it contains soft speech and beautiful melody, and we hope that emotional singing and chanting will develop and connect together. Today, there is singing that excites instincts more than it excites passion or builds an idea. Singing was sung by the whole family in the era of adults, such as Umm Kulthum, Sabah Fakhri, Farid al-Atrash, Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab and others. But this singing has diminished, now the listener is obliged to cancel the follow-up of the bad that is sometimes offered.We offer religious chanting, not ourselves as the alternative, but as a parallel project.

Al-Sayyad concludes his statement to “Al-Arab” by saying that “religious chanting needs more and more attention and official government support. In general, there is a large incubator for it and it has many followers. Any art in the world “is based on four foundations that all must flourish, namely the artist first, then the artistic material second, the audience third, and the supporting body fourth. These are in short the foundations for development.”

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