Intermission: Bonus Compilation - Lubnanyat Zaman - لـبـنـانـيات زمـان.

Attenshun Shoppas!

Callin' on all blogsters who frequent these e-quarters:


Continuing with a bonus for the last two Intermission posts... this here is a big Compilation that I myself has made with many Lebanese singers and bands (some are very very rare), taken mostly from the 70's and 80's for your special e-njoyment.

Lubnanyat Zaman Comp's record sleeves and cassette jackets.

Each track here features a different artist or band (and, few are collaborations with other artists) and they exactly number 75 Lebanese pop singers from the 70's and the 80's. I also wanted this new comp to be special like the first one... so, I made a nice front-folder for it from most of the original cassette and LP sleeves.

After all and all, it is a good-naturedly quickie look at past happier times in the Middle-East when people were carefree and cool.
Smile as you listen to these happy songs.

I go now. Stay hip, people.

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Extra Mini-Post:

Old wall drawings showing debke dancers.
The History of Debka Music:
دبكة, or دابكة (debke/ dabka/ debkah) is an old style of line-dancing that originated around the Mediterranean basin in ancient times. Not much is known on its earliest origins, but the Greeks had a similar Bacchanalian line-dance in which the dancers held each others' hands and moved in a circle. That dance resembled a huge human circle that erupts from a long line of at least 4 dancers who dance so closely as they moved in slower movement to whatever music which accompanies this terpsichorean enchantment. The Greeks enacted these pagan dances on special occasions such as when the Moon was full, or rather as a worship ritual for the Sun.
Mesopotamian musicians.
The circle itself depicts the Sun, and the dancers become the revolving cosmic planets. Some certain order was placed around the Mesopotamia for closely related dances that are said to enact the power of old Gods inside their dancers. But, nothing is known about these now-dead rituals. Religious symbolism of the dance itself is scarcely studied and nothing could be found in any theosophical reference about these dances, but I guess the dancers were a structuralized universe; a unison of bodies and souls. Modern-time line-dances vary so much, there are few similarities left to see now in any of these to those of earlier times. That said, the Mediterranean sea (and, the Middle-Eastern part of it in particular), and its countries have so little differences between them and most of the dances found there are really the same. For example, modern Greek dances are almost the same as those in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Also, Eastern European countries so close to Turkey do not vary much from Turkish dances and other forms of Turkish music.
An Egyptian dancer in a trance.
Debke itself is thought to have originated in the Balkan region of East Europe, and was taken to the Ottoman Empire at the 16th Century when Turkish imperialists invaded these parts of the world. At the starts of the 19th century some of these Balkans took permanent residence in the Levant region and became naturalized citizens bringing in with them their crafts, music, and dances. Debke was one of those. The Balkan dwellers in the Levant were known as master builders and masons of a high caliber. Their knowledge harks back to hundreds of years of generation after another of builders who had to build reliable houses in extremely cold climates. Building a house was an opportunity to gather people around who used to help with it in the spirit of community, and calls to help that were actually sung in rhythmic tonality to make it more acceptable for other villagers to come and share the hard work.
19th Century painting of a darbuka player.
People started and finished with a dance: debke was the finishing finale where the builders took a rest by getting together with the rest of the master builders or foremen to announce the finishing of the house in a stomp dance. They used to gather at the roof as it was the last part of the house to build and as they did with normal dances on the ground, they moved together in a circle and broke again in a linear dance all the while their hands held up high as to make their feet stomps more powerful to compact the mud roof. The word debke is taken from the Arabic root د-ب-ك which means 'moved', and has many similar root-words to those of animal-walking sounds, and the animals their selves. The Greek dances of yore were animalistic rituals of pagan dances and sex played a vital rule in these dances, especially where the bachelors got to dance at these lines on top of the roofs, as these houses were built for marriage purposes and/or those intending to get wedded.
Iraqi-Kurdistani troupe of debka dancers.
At those older times, debkes were male dances, and the women (even in Eastern Europe) had their own special dances that men weren't allowed to share. But, with time the dances became uni-sexed and a very good initiating opportunity to meet new mates to marry, but touching hands wasn't allowed. That's why in a debke and until these very days, a woman must hold a handkerchief in her hand, and the males, too. Not all males: only the rayess (leader) is the one who's supposed to hold the kerchie as he twirls it around in fast circles in the air. In old, Christian East-European times, people used to walk outside their churches dancing these dances and holding a rosemary or any praying beads in their hands raising it in joy and celebration of the newly-weds. The Middle-east has this, too: a leader, or sometimes anyone of the laweeha (the dancers who are able to muster this art), holds a rosemary (called masbaha) as women twist their tongues in zaghareet/walaweel (زغاريت/ولاويل: shouts of joy using the mouth and not the lips) to announce their joy to as far distances as they could.
A dancing group of debke in Iraq.
As the dance starts, the first instrument to begin playing is usually the reed flute called yarghoul/arghol/maghroun (a Turkish word which means 'the announcer'), or sometimes in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan the mejwiz/shabbaba (entwined double reed-flute) is also used. The rhythm starts very slow in elongated sharp tunes as the dancers warm up in slow motions holding their heads down, and moving in 1-2-3 steps (one front, back, front again and then move to the side), hands start to clutch and the line gets created. There is also a singer who sings in mawaweel: old, short, memorized poetry usually of two couplets which he fires at the top of his lungs in a shriek (this is not a song, mind) and sometimes places his hands (palm down to his face), to cover his ears as he shouts. This is just the start of the debke. This dance is like riding a steep high-cliff on a bike, and when the lead singer reaches the apex... everyone joins, and dances and the ride becomes a very hectic down-hill jamboree that might last for hours nonstop. It's just like sex in all its animalistic expressions played to the beat of a flute and a drum.
A yarghoul player from Syria.
The drum's called tablah (or, darbouka/darbokah/derbake) and is usually played by women, and not men. But, now everybody plays it, even I do play it myself. The words to the lead singer's songs usually come infused with sexual stories of how he's asked the lover to come talk to him without anyone seeing them, or how her new haircut makes him wild or how not paying any attention to his flirting has caused him to lose his mind, ... etc. The most common of these songs are dalouna: دلعونا/دلعونة it's a call for help which originated from those same Balkan builders as they shouted these three words Ya Tha Al-Aoun for God to help with the hard work. Other styles are Shemali: شمالي/هوا الشمالي the singers start by calling on this unfavourable wind to tell their sadness about some matters. (Note: the wind itself is God. Most Levant religions has the soul as the source of Godhood inside them. In Judaism it's called rouach, and in Islam rouh. Wind is called reeh, too. The Shemali wind comes from the left side of the earthen hemisphere, and thus one can see a daemonic relation here. But, as usual nothing is really known about this).
A debka in southern Palestine.
Women in the Levant have this habit of burning incense weeds, or throwing perfume on the air which is a way to rejoice the company of the dancers (in olden times, they were from the village and took nothing as a monetary reward for their dance; maybe just the dinner presented at the end of the celebration. Now, the dancers are all paid, or hired), and they thank the singer and his troupe by ululating more and more and louder and louder. A singing style that greets the singers and the guests as well is called Maijana (Ya Min Jana: ميجانا). It's a welcome call for all those who came and accepted the invitation, or even those who are just passing by. One style of debke songs is called Zareef (زريف/زريف الطول), which is sung in Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan, mainly. The word means one who's as tall as a giraffe and this means the high-status of his honour among those who know him. It's not the groom, no. It's someone imaginary for whom the song starts. The singer's always asks him to just pass by, or stop and... "let me tell you..." in fast rapid words of two couplets.
Other styles of debke dances common in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan are: the jonoubi dance (southern), sha'rawiyya (has six measures), karradi dance (from Kurdistan originally), sahjeh (accompanied by hand claps), jafrah (Palestinian dance from the Jafra region in Baqa Al-Gharbiyah town), farradiyeh (Jordanian women-only standing debke), dehyyeh (bedouin wedding dance common in Southern Syria and Jordan), tesa'aweyah (nine measure debke of the south of Jordan). The lead singer usually asks the dancers to "sallee a'ala nabi" at the end of the dance, or to wish peace upon the soul of Prophet Mohammed. Amidst the dance itself, he directs every step with his kerchief, or masbaha, and some even carry a bamboo rod or a sword as a symbol of leadership placing it high on top of his head, or sometimes even touching the ground with it to announce the lower movements, or those dances that get the dancer closer to the earth, all the while staying so close to the man next to him (sometimes leaning on him with the side of his body). At other times when it gets 'hotter', he flees the line and hits the ground with all of his might in a thudding cloud of dust! It's amazing to dance and/or watch debke in action.
A debke band in full action. A 'Laweeh' at far left.
Other modern related dances and singing styles are: sahbet ouf/ouf-ouf (an atabah singing style that starts always with repeating the word 'ouf'; an exasperate shout), abu-zelouf (a romantic singing style that speaks to an imaginary abu-zelouf, or one who has thick side-burns), a'wadeh (Lebanese dancing and singing style that starts with the words "a'ala Allah te'oud": oh may those days return. A very nostalgic, powerful, sad singing style), wahda-we-nous (1.5 measure which can also be danced to a debke tune), raks al-a'sayah (staff dance using a small walking stick), raks sharki, raks baladi, raks badia... etc.

Syrian Raks Baladi orchestra in the early 80's.

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Right awn!



Carol said...

Thank you for all of this incredible Lebanese music - and info. It's so incredible. And all your work is really appreciated!

moOnNeighBouR said...

Thank you very much for all the happiness you gave me with all these music posted on the blog and especially the lebanese one and please if you have LPs for Fairouz and Sabah, please share them with us, even LPs' covers only if you want.
Thank you...

Hammer said...

Will surely do that as time allows me to, Khaled.

So happy that my fellow Arab bloggers are actually enjoying their olden music and sounds given to them again in spoon-feed portions. I reckon that you're a Tunisian. By the way, my younger brother's name is also Khaled.

Stay cool.