Palestinian Music and Song: Expression and Resistance since 1900

Views: 526
Ratings: (0)

Drawing from a long history of indigenous traditions and incorporating diverse influences of surrounding cultures, music in Palestine and among the millions of Palestinians in diaspora offers a unique window on cultural and political events of the past century. From the perspective of scholars, performers, composers, and activists, Palestinian Music and Song examines the many ways in which music has been a force of representation, nation building, and social action. From the turn of the 20th century, when Palestine became an exotic object of fascination for missionaries and scholars, to 21st-century transnational collaborations in hip hop and new media, this volume traces the conflicting dynamics of history and tradition, innovation and change, power and resistance.

List price: $9.99

Your Price: $7.99

You Save: 20%

 

11 Slices

Format Buy Remix

1. Palestinian Song, European Revelation, and Mission

ePub

One of the earliest—perhaps the very earliest—publications of Palestinian song is a book of 360 pages produced in Germany in 1901 titled Palästinischer Diwan (Palestinian Diwan).1 The collector and editor was German theologian and linguist Gustaf Dalman (1855–1941), who went on to become one of the leading commentators on Palestine in the early twentieth century. At first glance the volume seems to be a rather limited source of actual song of the time, because the bulk of the material presented consists of song texts alone. Only thirty-two melodies are provided and many of these are rather minimal. The traces it offers could nevertheless be of enormous value to folklorists seeking a history for poetry and song in the region. And the book’s wide geographical source base—most of the songs with melodies stem from as far afield as Madaba (now Jordan), Aleppo (now Syria), and what is now southern Lebanon—reminds us of the scope of conceptions of Palestine at the turn of the twentieth century.

 

2. A Musical Catastrophe: The Direct Impact of the Nakba on Palestinian Musicians and Musical Life

ePub

Along with having worked at the Palestinian Ministry of Culture and more recently founding and running Nawa, the Palestinian Association for Cultural Development, Nader Jalal has spent most of his adult life interviewing and collecting stories from Palestinian musicians and their families and colleagues, amassing an enormous archive of previously unrecorded information about musicians who were active before and after the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948. Issa Boulos is a Palestinian musician, composer, and scholar from Ramallah, now head of the Arab Music department at the Qatar Music Academy. Nader Jalal and Issa Boulos were interviewed in April 2012.

The discussion centers on the music scene in Palestine before the Nakba and focuses to some extent on two major British-owned radio stations: Idhā at al-Quds (Jerusalem Radio) and Idhā at al-Sharq al-Adná (Near East Radio). The Nakba, and its catastrophic effect on the radio stations, musical life in Palestine, and the musicians who created it, is then described.

 

3. Negotiating the Elements: Palestinian Freedom Songs from 1967 to 1987

ePub

The study of Palestinian music making during the second half of the twentieth century poses various challenges due to the complex ramifications of al-Nakba (the catastrophe) of 1948. Aside from the natural changes that occur in any given musical culture over time, abrupt political and social transformations such as this have been a driving force of change in Palestinian musical culture. In this chapter I examine the predominant social and cultural forces that have influenced Palestinian musicians active between 1967 and 1987. In this endeavor I track myriad musical choices and artistic processes and investigate how their musical performances or productions were initiated, approached, and achieved. The collective processes of making music were intrinsically tied to how these artists conceptualized art, themselves, and their role in society. Building from various case studies I speak to how musicians achieved their art while navigating the politics of tradition and innovation, Western classical and popular musical forms, and indigenous Palestinian folk material.1 I focus this discussion on four highly influential musicians and ensembles active between 1967 and 1987: Mustafa al-Kurd, a songwriter from Jerusalem; al-Baraem and Sabreen, two Jerusalemite musical groups; and Firqat Aghāni al-Ashiqeen, or simply Al-Ashiqeen, a Palestinian protest ensemble operating from Syria. My analysis focuses on Palestinian musicians who stayed in historic Palestine after al-Nakba of 1948,2 including Hussain Nazek of Al-Ashiqeen, who left Jerusalem after 1967, and interrogates many of the political, social, and cultural factors that influenced their music-making decisions.

 

4. Identity, Diaspora, and Resistance in Palestinian Hip-Hop

ePub

Since the late 1990s Palestinian hip-hop has developed as a national and cultural phenomenon. Politically charged hip-hop, with its spirit of resistance, has become the soundtrack for pro-democracy movements around the Arab world, from the streets of Palestine and Tunisia to Cairo. Palestinian hip-hop artists today are recounting the Palestinian cause and struggle via their art, telling the story of a people whose existence and history has long been denied and neglected. Many Palestinian artists today are creating politically charged music as a significant factor in the construction, preservation, and assertion of their identity and as a tool for resistance against Israeli oppression, while also paying respect to, and drawing upon, traditional Palestinian musical influences. This essay investigates the role of hip-hop in the assertion of a Palestinian cultural identity among artists within Palestine and the diaspora, through a study of their themes and messages emerging in their music.1

 

5. Transgressing Borders with Palestinian Hip-Hop

ePub

As fifteen-year-old rapper Hussam Ikbarey enters the studio Taht al-Ard (Underground) in Nazareth, he looks all teenager—tall, skinny, and shy. “Hussam, spit the Tech N9ne [pronounced Tech Nine] track you memorized,” his producer, Anan Kseem, says, referring to the American rapper from Kansas City—one of Hussam’s favorites.

Hussam’s blue eyes focus and he starts rapping. There are no pauses, no hesitation; he knows the lyrics by heart—or he has memorized the sound of the words, because Hussam’s English is very limited, and in reality most of it is gibberish to him. But his flow and delivery are incredibly tight. Anan watches his novice with eyes full of acknowledgment and affection. “There are twenty guys like Hussam, but none as dedicated,” he says.

Hussam’s journey into hip-hop brings Anan back to his own when he was Hussam’s age. More specifically, it brings him back to a mild October night in 2001 in downtown Nazareth. The hip-hop group DAM is performing its first show on an outdoor stage in the city center—and the place is packed.

 

6. Performing Self: Between Tradition and Modernity in the West Bank

ePub

Freed from its various earlier involvements, consciousness views its own past layers and their content in perspective; it keeps confronting them with another, emancipating them from their exterior temporal continuity as well as from the narrow meanings they seemed to have when they were bound to a particular present.

—Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature

Upon my return to the United States from the West Bank, friends, family, and colleagues all wanted to know how my research went, but those inquiries were often secondary to the more general (yet quite loaded), “What was it like?” Aside from the realities both they and I expected I would experience (the checkpoints, the soldiers, the wall), the message I wanted to communicate most of all was the awareness with which the Palestinians I encountered navigated, negotiated, and articulated the many layers inherent in their overwhelmingly politicized identities. I was there to study Palestinian music and identity in the refugee camps of the West Bank, specifically as expressed through the well-documented hip-hop scene. But from the first eye rolls I received after my initial inquiry into hip-hop’s place in the Palestinian soundscape to the heated debates that would transpire after ostensibly simple questions about the reasons for the preponderance of fallā (peasant) characterizations and village folk songs in programs and recitals put on by the children of the camps, it became clear that each musical utterance carries with it the burden of representing “Palestine”—a burden of which my interviewees were well aware. For in their rolled eyes and exasperated sighs were not necessarily judgments on the aesthetic qualities of those musical expressions after which I inquired, but an exasperation with the burden of representation they each must carry and the essentialist narratives they espouse—or, rather, are seen to espouse.

 

7. Realities for a Singer in Palestine

ePub

Originally from Shafa"amr in the north of 1948 Palestine, but for many years living in Jerusalem, Reem Talhami has a successful career as a singer and actor in Palestine. She is currently in the process of producing an album, and in this interview Reem details her background and current life as a singer, as well as the process of producing an album from scratch in Palestine, from the initial thought process and decisions about the theme of the work to the thorny issue of funding.

Heather Bursheh: Can you give me some background about the practicalities of being a singer in Palestine?

Reem Talhami: For as long as I remember, singing has been a challenge for me. From the beginning, I faced social pressures and prohibitions regarding standing on stage and performing other singers’ pieces. I found myself fighting against people over my own dream, including my family, extended family, neighbors and acquaintances. Their main claims were basically either social—musicians are seen as socially flawed—or economic, as in “art does not provide bread.”

 

8. Performative Politics: Folklore and Popular Resistance during the First Palestinian Intifada

ePub

In the many Israeli and Palestinian historical accounts of the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising), the role of expressive culture has largely been characterized as epiphenomenal, a mere artistic reflection of larger determinate economic, political, and social forces.1 In this respect many have argued, perhaps unintentionally, that although the expressive media that emerged during this time was a powerful means of giving voice to experiences of dispossession, it did little more than capture in artistic expression an especially powerful historical moment of resistance to a brutal occupation (Abed-Rabbo and Safie 1990; Bennis 1990; Hass 1996; Hiltermann 1991; Lockman and Beinin 1989; Nassar and Heacock 1990; Oliver and Steinberg 2002; Peteet 1996; Steinberg and Oliver 1994). Yet, in popular memories of revolt, contemporary conversations on the nature of Palestinian resistance, it is striking how many cite music, poetry, song, and dance as a predominant means of mobilizing and sustaining the Intifada. According to people who walked the streets in demonstrations and participated in the boycotts, expressive culture and media did more than simply reflect popular sentiment, comment on prevailing power imbalances, or describe national identities and affiliations. Rather, songs, dances, poetry, leaflets, graffiti, and the like generated such sentiment, shaped national and political identities and affiliations, and provided performative spaces for subverting and re-signifying entrenched power structures. Expressive culture provided an essential integrating tool for the demonstrating masses, allowing for new cultural and political identities to emerge. Collective singing and dancing opened up performative spaces for the integration of new communities, bodies, and ideologies. Such media did more than simply give voice to the subaltern experience of dispossession, but in the act of performance it also offered an essential means of enduring that experience. Through performance new ways of imagining Palestinian bodies and the body politic emerged, opening spaces for contemplating new directions and new possibilities in the nationalist movement.

 

9. Hamas’s Musical Resistance Practices: Perceptions, Production, and Usage

ePub

The Palestinian Islamic resistance organization Hamas (arakat al-Muqāwamah al-Islāmīyyah) frequently uses and even produces music in order to unite, inspire, and strengthen Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Music is seen by Hamas not only as a form of entertainment and religious practice but also as a form of discursive resistance and a kind of weapon for struggling against unjust regimes, rules, and systems. Not solely for Hamas’s followers, but among many Palestinians as well, music is used to create a political space for expression beyond the reach of Israeli authorities. As much as Hamas was established in response to the Israeli occupation, so too is their music. Despite widespread interest in Hamas and in Palestinian expressive culture, there are few studies of the organization’s use of music. This chapter seeks to fill this research gap by exploring how Hamas’s music can be understood in relation to the organization’s actions and stated goals.

 

10. Palestinian Music: Between Artistry and Political Resistance

ePub

In this essay Palestinian music is used as a case study in an attempt to understand the use of music as resistance. The discussion and the cultural production that I met during recent travels in the country revealed to me richness not only in the music but also in the discussion about the music. I realized that the study of this specific case could be beneficial to a more general discussion. I think that everyone can learn from the informed statements and cultural praxis manifested by Palestinians. The country is subjected to specific cultural and political circumstances that make issues concerning cultural resistance more explicit—more on the edge. As human rights activist Omar Barghouti told me:

Artists cannot be neutral or apathetic. Under conditions of colonial oppression particularly, neutrality is not an option, basically. Even artists who pretend to work under the concept of l’art pour l’art cannot do it. Because as Palestinians they are subject to the same conditions as the rest of the population. (Barghouti, interview)

 

11. The Ghosts of Resistance: Dispatches from Palestinian Art and Music

ePub

In the summer of 2010 Palestinian artists Emily Jacir and Yazid Anani installed two billboards in downtown Ramallah as part of a public intervention called al-Riyā. Visually mimicking the urban-development genre, the two billboards ironically questioned the erosion of a collective Palestinian political project through the building of gated communities (that look conspicuously similar to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank) and the creation of a Dubai-style business tower that was to be constructed atop Ramallah’s fruit and vegetable market. Their work was part of a larger exhibition titled Ramallah: The Fairest of Them All? produced by the Birzeit Ethnographic and Art Museum and the Ramallah municipality. Yet within twenty-four hours the municipality, calling the billboards “problematic,” removed them. Despite demands from the artists and the organizers of the exhibition to discontinue such acts of censorship, both the mayor of Ramallah and the director of the municipality remained steadfast in their decision and offered no further clarification of their problematic nature.1

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Slices

Format name
ePub (DRM)
Encrypted
true
Sku
2370005072271
Isbn
9780253011138
File size
0 Bytes
Printing
Disabled
Copying
Disabled
Read aloud
No
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata