Playlist:  Introduction to World Music: The Middle East by Jenna Makowski, Alexander Street Press

The goal of these playlists is to introduce students to the classical music traditions of the Middle East with a focus on the common music theory that underlies core repertoire and playing styles across the region. Students should be able to identify the traditional instruments of a classic Arabic ensemble and develop a basic understanding of the style of taqsim. They should also be able to trace the influence of elements of classical music on popular and contemporary genres and situate them within a broader social and political context.
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In the world of classical Arab music, solo performances are governed by complex sets of rules and parameters. One form of such performances are taqsims, un-metered instrumental improvisations that have developed over the last century to highlight the virtuosity and creativity of musicians. They can be performed on the oud or other traditional Middle Eastern instruments. The tracks in this playlist introduce listeners to taqsims and core instruments of Arab music.
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27 Dec 2013
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Classical music in Iran is built around a formal repertoire of melodies called the radif, which are in turn built around distinct intervals called dastghah, which are further broken into melodic sequences called ghousheh. There are 7 main dastghahs in Iranian classical music, which are manifested through improvisation and virtuosity. The improvisation presented here is broken up across twelve tracks. It is based in Dastghah-e Nava and Avaz Bayat. As it expresses an inner state of calmness, it is better played at night. Each track is accompanied by analysis from the liner notes.
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27 Dec 2013
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Alexander Street Press has acquired the entire 15-volume collection of Celestial Harmonies' Music of Islam series, which includes recordings made in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran and Qatar. It is one of the most comprehensive collections available, documenting the sounds and aesthetics that define one of the world's largest and most influential religions.
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27 Dec 2013
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Oum Kalthoum is recognized as Egypt's most famous singer and one of the most popular Arab voices. With a career spanning from the 1930s through the 1970s, her voice appeared across Egyptian radio and film. Her songs included traditional Arabic poetry texts and contemporary songs. The tracks in this playlist highlight moments from the early days of her career, when she was accompanied by a small tahkt ensemble, a classic Arab ensemble often used to accompany vocal performances.
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27 Dec 2013
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Rai, a genre that gained popularity in Algeria in the 1980s, is based on the fusion of traditional Arab melodies and electronic rhythms and sounds. Accepted and popular in mainstream Algerian culture, rai butted heads with Islamic fundamentalists, often putting rai musicians and producers in danger; more than one were killed. The tracks in this playlist introduce listeners to three influential rai artists: Cheb Khaled, Cheb Hasni and Cheb Nacim.
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27 Dec 2013
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