Songs of Parting (Furaaqiyyaat)

from by Reem Kelani

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A medley of two songs, both of which could be considered of the furaaqiyyaat genre, where the protagonist sings about loved ones from whom they’ve been separated. I learnt the first song from In’aam al–Khadra, whose family hails from Safad in the north of historic Palestine. In’aam herself was born in Nazareth, after her family had been driven out of Safad in 1948. A refugee twice over, In’aam now lives in Syria, along with her collective memory of music, verse and song. I was introduced to In’aam by Palestinian poet and literary historian, Dr. Salma Khadra Jayyusi.

Although the second song of the medley speaks about a mother waiting to see her child’s first tooth, it is also sung to express the pain of exile as a means of cultural resistance, in common with many traditional
Palestinian songs post–1948. This song normally accompanies the preparation of the s’nouniyyeh dessert to celebrate the baby’s teething. The dessert is made of wheat (which symbolises teeth), sugar, spices, candied pulses and nuts. Hence the mention of pistachios and hazelnuts in the lyrics.

There is more than one way of singing the two component songs, employing different lyrics and more than one melodic mode or maqaam. In this arrangement, I chose the hijaz mode, which develops into a melody
reminiscent of the well–known Turkish lullaby ‘Dandini, Dandini’. I adapted the Arabic lines to fit within the metre of the original Turkish lyrics. We first performed this arrangement in a concert at Babylon Jazz Club in
Istanbul with the legendary Roma clarinettist Selim Sesler (1957–2014). The concert was organised by British Council Turkey to coincide with the visiting Tate exhibition “Lure of the East” at the Pera Museum in 2008.

The violinist on this track is London–based Turkish musician and musicologist Cahit Baylav. His powerful and yet unassuming input was totally impromptu, as was that of Cihan Ademhan, a young Kurdish woman from Mardin in south east Turkey. Both Cahit and Cihan joined in the music–making with a mixture of love and joy, but also with a touch of hüzün (‘melancholy’). It is these magical moments which make live concerts the essence of what my musical journey is all about.

Thank you, ‘Teşekkür ederim’ to Cahit & ‘Zor spass’ to Cihan. And to the much missed Selim Sesler, may your soul rest in Peace, ‘Allah rahmet’.

lyrics

O my eye, stop crying
O my eye, or you’ll burst
My tears pour forth without relent
At those who stole my birthright…
Those of you visiting the Prophet’s shrine
Take me aboard your caravan
I’m neither as heavy as iron
Nor will I burden you with children…
They dressed for the journey
Saying they’d be away for two days
But their parting lasted forever…
They dressed for the journey
Saying they’d be away for two days
But their parting broke my back…
Bring me the quill and inkwell
Fit for a Sultan’s scribe
And I’ll write letter upon letter
About what I had, and have no more…

I’ll sing you a lullaby, my child
I’ll bring you seven camel loads
Of pistachios and hazelnuts
When you grow your first tooth, my child…
Close your eyes, my love
You’re fast asleep by day
And wide awake by night…
Close your wide eyes, my love
You’re fast asleep by day
And beautiful as a bride by night…
I’ll sing you a lullaby, my child
I’ll bring you seven camel loads
Of pistachios and hazelnuts
When you grow your first tooth, my child…

credits

from Reem Kelani: Live at the Tabernacle, released March 11, 2016
Traditional Palestinian
Collated & arranged by: Reem Kelani (MCPS)

Reem Kelani - vocals, Shruti box & frame drum
Bruno Heinen - piano
Tamer Abu Ghazaleh - 'oud
Ryan Trebilcock - double bass
Antonio Fusco - drums

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about

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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