Saturday, May 1, 2010

Excerpt of "ana fi intidharak" March 3, 1955

This is an excerpt of "ana fi intidharak" (I'm waiting for you) as performed on the night of March 3, 1955. This song is very special to me because it was the first Oum Kalsoum song I had ever heard (back in the Spring of 1993). However, this performance is different from the commercial (which is amazing as well). The difference is in the section where Oum Kalsoum displays her creative improvisations. In this approx. 18 min excerpt, Oum Kalsoum focuses on the verse "at'alleb 'ala gamr ennar w' atsharrad waya el afkar" (I roll over burning charcoals and I wander with my thoughts), which is a metaphor for her passionate and painful awaiting for her lover and his haunting image. The haunting theme is very well illustrated by her repetitions of the stance "w atsharrad wayya el efkar (I wander with my thoughts).
What is remarkable in this impro is the creation of a whole new melodic line on the aforementioned stance that becomes the focal point of the whole impros. Now. I will guide you through the highlights of the impro:
the first 40 sec are the original melody of the verse as set by the composer Zakariyya Ahmad
@ 1:53 Oum returns to the original melody, but is interrupted by the audience who shows appreciation, a positive feedback to extend the impros.
@ 2:25 The melodic line "wayya el afkar" (with the thoughts) will become the focal point of the whole impros: Oum will repeat it over and over, move away and return to it.
@ 2:40 this melodic line inflames the audience, another sign that it needs to be exploited
@ 2:50 the orchestra seals the deal by translating the melodic line performed by Oum on their instruments, thereby giving the impression that this is the original melody of the verse (I should point out here that Oum Kalsoum's instrumentalists play without musical notes because it is useless when a performance is based on impros; she had behind her the most accomplished instrumentalists of Egypt, and this contributed tremendously to her success and the quality of her performances )
@ 4:34 the orchestra helps Oum establish the mood of the impros by reiterating the melodic line; thereafter Oum will always have a point of return to this melody.
@ 5:00 note the percussions and the variations on the word "at'alleb" (I roll)
@ 6:16 She adds the pronoun "ana" (I) to the verb "at'alleb" (roll) (In Arabic one doesn't need to place the subject before the verb because the verb is conjugated in such a way to show who the subject is), so her addition emphasizes her personal experience and suffering. The accompaniment by the percussionist is amazing as metric impros are among the most difficult (note how she breaks the sentence, and the percussionist assists her in this).
@ 7:07 returns to the focal melody of the impros in a way that is effortless
@ 7:42 her emphasis on "ana at'alleb" (I roll) takes the audience by force
@ 8:08 Oum returns to the original melody of the verse (but the impros are far from being over)
@ 9:04 a new verse "ennesma a'hsibha khoutak w el hamsa a'hsibha loghak" (I hear your steps with the breeze and your voice in any whisper) "'ala kida asba'ht w amset w shafouni w 'alou tganneit" (as such I spent my days and whoever saw me said she lost her mind)
she repeats the second stance "ala kida...." 5 times with a small extension and pause at the word word "tganneit" (lost her mind) at 10:02 that changes the rhythm without disturbing it and that inflames the audience, causing her to stop and reiterates impros from I roll over burning charcoal
@ 11:18 she raises her pitch at the impros of "at'allab" to emphasize the suffering. Note the beautiful strings of the zither (cithare) and how the luth is setting the rhythm in these non-metric impros
@ 12:32 the way she utters "al hamsa" (whisper) is exactly like a whisper, which inflames the audience
@ 12:59 note the beautiful percussions
@ 13:13 note the stong strings of the luth
@ 13:30 the percussionist predicts what she is about to do and set her return to the focal improvised melody (which isn't anymore improvised by the way)
@ 14:00 somebody utters "Allah" (oh God), most likely a totally ecstatic member of her orchestra
@ 14:11 re-emphasis on "ana at'alleb" (I roll)
@ 15:52 effortless return to the original melody and end of improvisation.

N.B: comments/additions are most welcome.

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