Sunday, August 08, 2010

Egyptian music's ancient past resurrected ?

Al Masry Al Youm

With photos.

Last Wednesday, ancient met modern at El Sawy Culture Wheel when the band Welad el-Faraana (Children of the Pharaohs), wearing jeans and t-shirts and playing pharaonic and Nubian instruments, resurrected the music of their Egyptian ancestors.

Welad al-Faraana signals a trend in contemporary Egyptian music, which has steadily begun welcoming pharaonic and Nubian music back into the scene. Currently, the National Project for Reviving Ancient Egyptian Music--headed by Khairi el-Malt, a music archeology researcher and the band leader--seeks to unearth ancient Egyptian music, revive its sound, and spread it all over the world via university courses and the manufacturing of instruments in the ancient Egyptian styles. That night at El Sawy Culture Wheel, a flier advertising a Diploma of Ancient Egyptian Music was being circulated through the audience.

“Modern and ancient Egyptian society is not only discernible through daily life and general behavior; it can be detected in instrumental and vocal music, as well as dance,” said el-Malt, the spotlight highlighting his excited smile. “Among the most important features of pharaonic culture is the role that music, song, and dance played to induce religious feeling inside temples,” he explained. “Because religion is fundamental to ancient Egyptian culture, music’s association with religion grants it a certain sacred quality.”

“But music also existed outside the temple, in the fields and between lovers,” el-Malt continued. By dissecting old pharaonic songs, he unearthed ideas very similar to those that appear in modern Egyptian music. This discovery made him feel connected to the past, as a musician and as an Egyptian. “We are a natural extension of the ancient civilization," he said.

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