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This song is also found in Jordan and some parts of the Levant. This rendition comprises lyrics I collected from published references on Palestinian music and from women who came from Acre, Nazareth and from Mi'liya in the Galilee. It also contains lyrics written by Nablus-born poet, educationalist and broadcaster Shaikh Rasheed Zaid Kelani (1905-1965). Kelani specialised in Jordanian and Bedouin popular song and literature, and he conducted extensive field recordings of songs from the West Bank and Jordan. He also contributed his own lyrics to already existent folk forms, as in this instance.

In this rendition, each verse (or cycle) has 13 beats and comprises four sections. Owing to the uneven number in this case, the count per cycle is: 3 + 3 + 4 + 3 = 13. The arrangement on this track was done along these lines, resulting in the rhythmic pattern you can hear. The Arabic title changes according to the theme of each rendition, but (Habl el-Ghiwa) is the most famous, and it translates as the 'Pull of Seduction'. Our recording engineer, Steve Lowe, said that this odd-numbered count reminded him of a baker's dozen in Lancashire (12+1).


How can I recognise him? All headdresses look alike.
How can I recognise him?
You eternally long for your mate.
Even the fish in the water longs eternally for its mate.

The moon is rising. Oh my loving mother, the moon is rising.
Let's welcome our loved ones.
If they visit for only an hour, let's welcome our loved ones.

• For God's sake, beloved. For God's sake, don't torment your soul!

• Don't make me worry! Tell me what hurts you. Don't make me worry.

'Ataaba stanza:

We fled our homeland,
And the tyranny of fate estranged us further.
We left at night, not daring to look back,
And left our homes open to the stars.

They did not bid us farewell.
They moved their tents by night, not bidding us farewell.
Oh eyes of mine, if you have compassion, pour out your tears.

• May sickness strike me instead of you, my love. Let sickness strike me instead of you.

• I'll watch over you all night. I'll watch over you, light of my eyes.

From amidst the Arab tribes, my love rode gloriously on his steed;
With a saddle of gold and a rein of silver, my loved one rode gloriously on his steed.


from Sprinting Gazelle - Palestinian songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora, released February 6, 2006
Traditional Palestinian, Arr. Reem Kelani
Verse: Rasheed Zaid Kelani.

Vocals: Reem Kelani
Violin: Samy Bishai
Bass clarinet: Idris Rahman
Piano: Zoe Rahman
Double bass: Oli Hayhurst
Daf : Fariborz Kiani
Tar, Dabkeh & Safqah: Reem Kelani
Drums: Patrick Illingworth



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Reem Kelani London, UK

Reem Kelani is a Palestinian musician born in Britain & brought up in Kuwait. Her debut album “Sprinting Gazelle: Palestinian songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora” was released in 2006 to critical acclaim. Her next album "Reem Kelani: Live at the Tabernacle" will be released in March 2016. Reem wrote & presented “Songs for Tahrir” for BBC Radio 4 on the music of the Egyptian Revolution. ... more

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