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Andalusian classical music

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Andalusian classical music (Arabic: طرب أندلسي‎, romanizedṭarab ʾandalusī; Spanish: música andalusí) or Andalusi music is a genre of music originally developed in al-Andalus by the Muslim population of Andalusia and the Moors, it then spread and influenced many different styles across the Maghreb (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya) after the Expulsion of the Moriscos. It originated in the music of Al-Andalus (Muslim Iberia) between the 9th and 15th centuries. Some of its poems derive from famous authors such as Al-Shushtari, Ibn al-Khatib and Al-Mu'tamid ibn Abbad.


Andalusian classical music was allegedly born in the Emirate of Cordoba (Al-Andalus) in the 9th century. Born and raised in Iraq, Ziryâb (d. 857), who later became court musician of Abd al-Rahman II in Cordoba, is sometimes credited with its invention. Later, the poet, composer, and philosopher Ibn Bajjah (d. 1139) of Saragossa is said to have combined the style of Ziryâb with Western approaches to produce a wholly new style that spread across Iberia and North Africa.[1]

By the 10th century, Muslim Iberia had become a center for the manufacture of instruments. These goods spread gradually to Provence, influencing French troubadours and trouvères and eventually reaching the rest of Europe. The English words lute, rebec, guitar, and naker derive from the Arabic oud, rabab, qithara and naqareh, although some Arabic terms (qithara, for example) had been derived in their turn from Vulgar Latin, Greek and other languages like Persian.

Mass resettlements of Muslims and Sephardi Jews from Cordoba, Sevilla, Valencia, and Granada, fleeing the Reconquista, further expanded the reach of Andalusian music, though not without changes. In North Africa, the Andalusian music traditions all feature a suite known as a nūba (colloquial Arabic from the formal Arabic nawba: a "turn" or opportunity to perform), an idea which may have originated in Islamic Iberia, but took on many different forms in the new environments.[2] Moreover, these migrants from the 13th century on encountered ethnic Andalusian communities that had migrated earlier to North Africa, which helped this elite music to take root and spread among wider audiences.[3]

In his book Jews of Andalusia and the Maghreb on the musical traditions in Jewish societies of North Africa, Haïm Zafrani writes: "In the Maghreb, the Muslims and Jews have piously preserved the Spanish-Arabic music .... In Spain and Maghreb, Jews were ardent maintainers of Andalusian music and the zealous guardians of its old traditions ...."[4] Indeed, as in so many other areas of Andalusian culture and society, Jews have played an important role in the evolution and preservation of the musical heritage of al-Andalus throughout its history. From the very beginning, one of Ziryāb's colleagues at the court of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II was a fine musician Manṣūr al-Yahūdī ("Mansur the Jew"). [5] The scholars Avraham Elam-Amzallag and Edwin Seroussi further highlight the important role played by Jews in the history of Andalusian music, pointing out that not only have many important North African Andalusian musicians been Jews, but also Moroccan Jewish communities today in Israel preserve Andalusian melodies and even song texts in their religious music.[6][7]

A number of old manuscripts preserve song texts and elements of Andalusian musical philosophy. The oldest surviving collection of these texts is found in two chapters from Aḥmad al-Tīfāshī's al-Mutʿat al-asmāʿ fī ʿilm al-mūsīqā wa-l-samāʿ (ca. 1253).[8] More recent is a document entitled, al-ʿAdharā al-māʾisāt fī-l-azjāl wa-l-muwashshaḥāt ("The Virgins Swaying for Zajals and Muwashshaḥs"), which probably dates to the middle of the 15th century and seems to be linked to the Andalusian music of Tlemcen in Algeria.[9] By far the best-documented Andalusian tradition is that of Morocco, with the first surviving anthology having been produced by Muḥammad al-Būʿiṣāmī (d. ca. 1738). But the most important collection was Kunnāsh al-Ḥāʾik (the first of several versions is dated 1202/1788), which was revised by the wazīr al-Jāmiʿī in 1886 (numerous copies are found in libraries in Morocco, Madrid, London and Paris).[10]

Each of the modern nations of North Africa has at least one style of Andalusian music. In Morocco the secular instrumental version is called Al-Āla, while the religious a cappella style is called al-samāʿ wa-l-madih. In Algeria there are three styles: al-Gharnāṭī (referring to Granada) in the west, al-ṣanʿa in the region around Algiers, and al-mālūf in the east. The Tunisian and Libyan traditions are also called al-mālūf, as well.[11][12]


A suite form, Andalusi nubah, is the basis of al-āla. Though it has roots in al-Andalus, the modern nūba is probably a North African creation. Each nūba is dominated by one musical mode. It is said that there used to be twenty-four nūbāt linked to each hour of the day, but in Algeria there are only sixteen, and in Morocco, eleven have survived (although some nūbāt in Morocco incorporate more than one mode—24 modes in all).[13] Nūba structures vary considerably among the various national traditions. In Morocco, each nūba is divided into five parts called mîzân, each with a corresponding rhythm. The rhythms occur in the following order in a complete nuba (though an entire nūba is never performed in one sitting):

  1. basît (6/4)
  2. qâ'im wa niṣf (8/4)
  3. btâyhî (8/4)
  4. darj (4/4)
  5. quddâm (3/4 or 6/8)

Andalusian classical music orchestras are spread across the Maghreb, including the cities of:

They use instruments including oud (lute), rabab (rebec), darbouka (goblet drums), taarija (tambourine), qanún (zither), and kamanja (violin). More recently, other instruments have been added to the ensemble, including piano, contrabass, cello, and even banjos, saxophones, and clarinets, though these are rare.


Andalusia was probably the main route of transmission of a number of Near Eastern musical instruments used in European music: the lute from the oud, rebec from the rebab, the guitar from qitara and Greek kithara, and the naker from the naqareh. Further terms fell into disuse in Europe: adufe from al-duff, alboka from al-buq, anafil from al-nafir, exabeba from al-shabbaba (flute), atabal (bass drum) from al-tabl, atambal from al-tinbal,[16] the balaban, sonajas de azófar from sunuj al-sufr, the conical bore wind instruments,[17] and the xelami from the sulami or fistula (flute or musical pipe).[18]

Most scholars believe that Guido of Arezzo's Solfège musical notation system had its origins in a Latin hymn,[19] but others suggest that it may have had Andalusian origins instead. According to Meninski in his Thesaurus Linguarum Orientalum (1680), Solfège syllables may have been derived from the syllables of an Arabic (Moorish) solmization system Durar Mufaṣṣalāt ("Separated Pearls").[20] However, there is no documentary evidence for this theory, and no Arabian musical manuscripts employing sequences from the Arabic alphabet are known to exist.[21] Henry George Farmer believes that there is no firm evidence on the origins of the notation, and therefore the Arabian origin theory and the hymnal origin theories are equally credible.[22] Although the philosopher al-Kindī (d. 259/874) and the author Abū l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī (d. 355/967) both mention music writing systems, they were descriptive and based on lute fingerings, and thus complicated to use. No practical, indigenous system of music writing existed in the Islamic world before the colonial era.

Some scholars have speculated that the troubadour tradition was brought to France from al-Andalus by the first recorded troubadour, William IX of Aquitaine (d. 1126), whose father had fought in the siege and sack of Barbastro in 1064 and brought back at least one female slave singer. It is likely that young William's taste in music and poetry was thus influenced by al-Andalus. George T. Beech observes that while the sources of William’s inspirations are uncertain, he did have Spanish individuals within his extended family, and he may have been friendly with some Europeans who could speak Arabic.[23] Regardless of William's involvement in the tradition's creation, Magda Bogin states that Andalusian poetry was likely one of several influences on European “courtly love poetry”.[24] J.B. Trend has also asserted that the poetry of troubadours was connected to Andalusian poetry.[25]

See also


  1. ^ al-Tīfāshī, Aḥmad Ibn Yūsuf (1968). M. al-Ṭanjī (ed.). "al-Ṭarāʾiq wa-l-alḥān al-mūsīqiyya fī Ifrīqiya wa-l-Andalus. al-Mutʿat al-asmāʿ fī ʿilm al-samāʿ". Al-Abhath. Beirut. 21 (1–3): 115.
  2. ^ Davila, Carl (2020). ""Nawba"". Encyclopaedia of Islam, Third Edition.
  3. ^ Davila, Carl (2013). The Andalusian Music of Morocco: Al-Āla: History, Society and Text. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag. pp. 133–147. ISBN 978-3-89500-913-6.
  4. ^ Haïm Zafrani (2002). Juifs d'Andalousie et du Maghreb. Références Maisonneuve et Larose. Maisonneuve & Larose. p. 228. ISBN 978-2-7068-1629-1.
  5. ^ Ibn Ḥayyān al-Qurṭubī (2003). al-Sifr al-thānī min Kitāb al-Muqtabis (edited by Maḥmūd ʿAlī Makkī). Riyad: Markaz al-Malik Faysal. p. 308.
  6. ^ Seroussi, Edwin (1990). "La música arábigo-andaluza en las baqqashot judeo-marroquíes: Estudio histórico y musical". Annuario Musical. 45: 297–315.
  7. ^ Elam-Amzallag, Avraham (1997) "La ala andalouse chez les Juifs et les Arabes du Maroc" in Relations Judéo-Musulmanes au Maroc: Perceptions et Réalités, edited by Robert Assaraf and Michel Abitbol. Statvit. pp. 295–302.
  8. ^ al-Ṭanjī 1968
  9. ^ Reynolds, Dwight (2012). "Lost Virgins Found: The Arabic Songbook Genre and an Early North African Exemplar". Quaderni di Studi Arabi. 7: 69–105.
  10. ^ Davila, Carl (2019). "Al-Ḥāʾik's Notebook, Part I: Annotated Annals of the Anthologies of Al-Āla". Al-Abhath. 67: 1–38. doi:10.1163/18115586-67010002.
  11. ^ Marouf, Nadir (2002). "Le système musical de la Sana'a ou le paradigm de la norme at de la marge". In Samrakandi, Mohammed Habib; Aous, Rachid (eds.). Horizons Maghrebins: Le droit à la mémoire. Toulouse: Presses Universitaire du Mirail. p. 24. ISBN 978-2-85816-657-2.(footnote 12)
  12. ^ Guettat, Mahmoud (2000). La Musique arabo-andalouse: l'empreinte du Maghreb. Éditions el-Ouns.
  13. ^ See Davila (2013) p. 325.
  14. ^ Guerbas, Rachid (2002). "Chante et musique de la nawba ou nûba algérienne". In Samrakandi, Mohammed Habib; Aous, Rachid (eds.). Horizons Maghrebins: Le droit à la mémoire. Toulouse: Presses Universitaire du Mirail. p. 25. ISBN 978-2-85816-657-2.
  15. ^ Davila 2016, p. 4.
  16. ^ Farmer 1978, p. 137.
  17. ^ Farmer 1978, p. 140.
  18. ^ Farmer 1978, pp. 140–141.
  19. ^ McNaught, W. G. (1893). "The History and Uses of the Sol-fa Syllables". Proceedings of the Musical Association. Novello, Ewer and Co. 19: 35–51. doi:10.1093/jrma/19.1.35. ISSN 0958-8442.
  20. ^ Farmer 1978, pp. 76–77.
  21. ^ Miller, Samuel D. (Autumn 1973), "Guido d'Arezzo: Medieval Musician and Educator", Journal of Research in Music Education, 21 (3): 239–245, doi:10.2307/3345093, JSTOR 3345093, S2CID 143833782
  22. ^ Farmer 1978, pp. 81–82.
  23. ^ Beech, George T. (1992). "Troubadour Contacts with Muslim Spain and Knowledge of Arabic: New Evidence Concerning William IX of Aquitaine". Romania. 113 (449): 14–26. doi:10.3406/roma.1992.2180.
  24. ^ Bogin, Magda; Bogin, Meg (1995). The Women Troubadours. WW Norton. p. 46–47. ISBN 978-0393009651.
  25. ^ Veldeman, Marie-Christine (2001). "Egypt, or the quest for syncretism and spiritual wholeness in Lawrence Durrell's Avignon Quintet". Equivalences. 28 (2): 87–100. doi:10.3406/equiv.2001.1233.


Further reading

  • Benmoussa, Abdelfattah (2003) al-Mūsīqā l-andalusiyya "al-Āla": al-maṣādir wa al-madāris. Maṭbaʿat al-Afaq.
  • Ciantar, Philip (2012) The Ma'luf in Contemporary Libya: An Arab-Andalusian Musical Tradition. Routledge.
  • Cortés-García, Manuela (1993) Pasado y presente de la música andalusí. Fundación El Monte.
  • Davis, Ruth (2004) Ma'lūf: Reflections on the Arab-Andalusian Music of Tunisia. Scarecrow.
  • Glasser, Jonathan (2016) The Lost Paradise: Andalusi Music in Urban North Africa. University of Chicago Press.
  • Ibn ʿAbd al-Jalīl, ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (2000) Madkhal ilā tārīkh al-mūsīqā l-maghribiyya. Maṭbaʿa al-Najāh al-Jadīd.
  • Reynolds, Dwight (2000) "Music" in Cambridge History of Arabic Literature: The Literature of al-Andalus, edited by Raymond Schiendlin, Maria Rosa Menocal and Michael Sells. Cambridge University Press. pp. 60–82.

External links

This page was last edited on 10 July 2021, at 22:54
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