New music from Lebanon. About the diversity of a fragmented society.
Evolution of tradition. Design: Rainer Elstner
Elements of classical Arabic music are still present in the Lebanon through the detour of Arab pop music – but in a simplified form. Because there is no room for microtonality, improvisation and extended suite forms in the music of the charts.
In addition, European instruments and synthesizers have replaced Arab instruments in many ensembles. A young generation of Lebanese musicians would like to join the great tradition of Takht, the classical Arab ensemble. Their goal is to further develop this musical form – from the original principles and forms.
A Develping Tradition and a Movement
What emerges here is contemporary music, which does not follow the western avant-garde, but rather wants to further develop its own musical tradition. The Asil ensemble and its Egyptian head Mustafa Said are the force of this movement in Lebanon.
Said is also the head of the AMAR Foundation. It provides the musicians with a historical basis for their engagement with classical Arabic music. AMAR stands for “Arab Music Archiving & Research”. It collects, catalogs and digitizes recordings from the last 110 years – including valuable shellac from the early days of the record industry.
New playing techniques for box chatter …
One of the most active musicians of the Asil group is Ghassan Sahhab. He plays Kanun. The Arabian box titter elicits new sounds – also on the basis of historical playing techniques that Sahhab has rediscovered. In early March, his first solo album “Sharqī (My Orient)” was released.