Saturday, 1 November 2014

Palestine - Playlist

Palestinian music is quite varied, from the traditional Dabka folk dancing, to more modern forms of music such as rap, my Palestinian virtual journey has had quite an enjoyable soundtrack, as I've been reading, cooking and watching movies.

Here is my Palestinian playlist:

1. Le Trio Joubran

I'd heard about Le Trio Joubran before I started researching Palestine and I've been a fan of their music for quite a while.  I guess the best way to describe their music is by using the word 'classical' and Le Trio Joubran is made up of three brothers, from Nazareth, who come from a long line of professional oud players.  The oud is an instrument which is popular right across the Middle East and I really love its melancholy sound which evokes images of the wind hurtling across the desert.

I came across this performance of Le Trio Joubran's song Nawwar on YouTube.  The clip comes from the TV channel France 2 and Le Trio Joubran seem to be very popular in France.  There's no way you couldn't enjoy this performance and I love the way the brothers' passion for music is seen on their faces:

2. DAM

I must admit, I've become a big fan of the Palestinian rap group DAM who I'd never heard about before I started researching for this blog.  The group consists of two brothers and their friend, who grew up in Lod/al-Ludd, one of the Palestinian towns that was depopulated after the 1948 Nakba

Although they grew up in Israel, DAM's music deals with the situation in the occupied Palestinian lands, as well as the treatment of Palestinians who live in Israel.  Their lyrics are hard-hitting and the combination of rapped lyrics in Hebrew and Arabic and more traditional song is epic!  I particularly liked Mali Huriye which means 'I don't have freedom' and I wanted to share some of the lyrics and video with you below:

Everywhere I go I see borders, imprisoning humanity
Why can't I be free, like other children in this world?

3. Reem Kelani

Reem Kelani is quite an interesting woman and I enjoyed watching some of her interviews on YouTube.  She's Palestinian but grew up in Manchester and has become a bit of a star on the world music circuit, having done many collaborations with musicians from all kinds of musical traditions.

She released a solo album Sprinting Gazelle: Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora in 2006 and it's a great collection, well worth listening to.  I particularly liked the song Yafa! (Jaffa!) which uses the lyrics of a poem by Mahmoud Salim al-Hout.  It's a mournful song and express the pain of exile and not knowing whether you'll ever see your place of birth again.

I'm pasting in a link to the video on YouTube, so you can have a listen.

Some of the words, translated into English are:

Yafa! My tears have dried up
I weep for you with stricken eyes
Will I ever see you?
Will I live long enough?

4. Amal Murkus

Amal Murkus is a Palestinian who was born in Galilee and grew up in Israel.  She's an Arab-Christian communist and has been a strong voice, politically, both for Palestinians in Israel and women in a male-dominated world.  

I liked the song Ya Ba La La which is a traditional folk song and, as far as I can tell, it's about a young female mask-seller who comes to the city to sell masks and then falls in love.  A song about masks is an interesting statement from a Palestinian who grew up in Israel and I'm sure that living in a state run by your 'enemy' means adopting all kinds of masks, just to get by.

You can hear Ya Ba La La by listening to the YouTube video below:

5. El-Founin

No playlist of Palestine would be complete without reference to Palestine's leading dance troupe El-Founin. Formed in 1979, El-Founin have kept alive a long tradition of Palestinian dance and have performed concerts all around the world. 

Their current projects include one called Dance Freedom. You can find out more about El-Founin on their websiteI found the following video on YouTube which is a good example of the type of music that El-Founin is famous for.

6. Ramzi Aburedwan 

Ramzi Aburedwan was born in Bethlehem in 1979 and grew up in a refugee camp in Ramallah. He studied at the Edward Said conservatory in Ramallah and also studied Chamber music at Angers in France. 

You can find out more about Ramzi on his website.

I discovered Ramzi's music via the new Rough Guide to Palestine which was released in July this year. I couldn't find a YouTube video for the song I liked most Andalus, so I'm posting a link to the song on Spotify instead, for those of you who have Spotify accounts:

7. Ashraf Abu Leil

It's hard to find information in English about Ashraf Abu Leil and I suspect that, out of all of the artists on my playlist, he's the most well-known in Palestine and possibly least well-known internationally. Ashraf is a wedding musician who keeps alive the Dabka musical tradition.  

Dabka is an Arabian folk dance which involves both men and women and is upbeat, repetitive and easy to sway to - all good ingredients for music that is associated with celebration.  

I'm pasting in a video of Ashraf below, playing live at what looks like a wedding.  Enjoy!

 8 . Natacha Atlas: The one that isn't actually Palestinian

When I'm blogging about various places, I usually come across songs that are popular in that place, despite the fact that the music/artist originated somewhere else. 

It's hard to ignore this and it's only naturally that people don't limit themselves to cultural influences from their immediate surroundings, so I want to recognise the one that actually isn't Palestinian, by paying tribute to the Belgian-born singer of Arabian descent, Natacha Atlas. 

I first heard her version of I Put a Spell on You when I was watching Elia Suleiman's movie, Divine Intervention. What a captivating interpretation, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  

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