on being a fannan asil…

I posted a bit about “authenticity” and the issues modernization and Westernization in indigenous Art Music traditions previously. Here’s a quote from Ali Jihad Racy’s article, “Musical Aesthetics in Present-Day Cairo,” that illustrates a broad pan-Arabic sense of some of the issues with descriptive phrases used in value judgments about musical activities:

Common in Cairo and neighboring Arab cities is the notion of asalah, which literally means “being genuine” or “being thoroughbred.” The term is both descriptive and judgmental. In a broad sense it means “having talent” or “having musicality.” fannan asil, “genuine artist,” must be well versed in usul al-fann, “the fundamentals of art,” which in part means being competent in the area of the maqamat or “melodic modes.” (Incidentally, the Arabic word usul, or “fundamentals,” shares the same root with the word asil, or “genuine.”) Accordingly, he must have an “Eastern spirit” and tarab in his music.

pg. 392

2 thoughts on “on being a fannan asil…

  1. Gah I can’t wait until I have time to write my review of SacPhil! There was a last minute change to the program that included a lovely piece by Nader Abassi that I LOVED. What you are talking about really applied to this piece. Hell, it almost made me cry, and I never cry. More on this tomorrow!


  2. I was so excited to hear about the piece they were going to lay by the Egyptian composer–my old cello professor made a comment about a recent benefit concert for the victims of the floods in Pakistan about how he wanted to hear some Pakistani music and to learn something about Pakistani culture. I think that not only are the demographics changing, but folks are starving to broaden their horizons as well! Can’t wait to hear what you thought about the piece!


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