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Old 03-27-2007, 02:18 PM   #1
ktinkel
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I haven't found any music from Yemen yet
Back in the late 1950s, when I did a lot of folk dancing, I had several recordings of Yemenite (or Yemenite-Israeli) folk music. I just went googling, however, and no longer find those recordings.

The Israeli “folk” music seems to be mostly horas or klezmer music; Israeli music in general is quite a mishmash of influences, including jazz and pop, even some Latin stuff. Yemeni folk music seems to have grown into pop music, sometimes on historic themes.

Anyway, if you search for Yemeni folk music on Amazon you will find some pieces you can listen to samples of.

The only title I remember from my folk-dancing days is something like Hava Netze Babachol; but there were at least a couple of albums besides the one that was on.

Googling brings up scholarly articles that you have to pay for.

This is interesting — another bit of culture that has changed drastically in half a century. There must be sources (look for a folk dance club, especially one with old codgers in it).

   
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Old 03-28-2007, 09:59 AM   #2
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Back in the late 1950s, when I did a lot of folk dancing, I had several recordings of Yemenite (or Yemenite-Israeli) folk music. I just went googling, however, and no longer find those recordings.
Well, I've got news on that front - just today I managed to lay hands on a single CD with Yemeni music, and an interesting one at that - worth a little train trip so I hopped on the train to Utrecht to get it. Interesting old poet-singer accompanying himself on a "copper plate" - a percussion instrument balanced on two thumbs (from the back cover):
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The plate is held in equilibrium on the two thumbs for left hand fingers to play ornamentation and right hand ones the melody: crystalline sounds and ethereal effects answering the voice.
The artist, Mohammed Ismâ'îl al-Khamîsî, seems to be one of the few to still master this old traditional instrument. Women play it as well, but in an entirely different way, according to the booklet.

As to Yemeni Jews, there seems to be only a small remnant of them left, most having been flown to Israel in "Operation Flying Carpet".

What is so tantalizing is that Yemeni music, given Yemeni history, should be a rich tapestry of Arab, African (Ethiopian), Persian, Jewish and even Hindu influences. My (German) travel guide has a chapter devoted to music which confirms this. So where are all the world music labels documenting this rich musical heritage? And it's about to be lost if not recorded now... Just the one CD I've got now (recorded in 2002 by Radio France, and published only June last year - the French are good at this sort of thing) seems to be a rare find...

I'll be on the lookout for music while there, of course.

Edit: I just found this page - unfortunately I don't read any Arabic, and most (or a lot) seems to be in apalling sound quality - but it's something at least (and recordable), though probably none of it traditional.

   
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Old 03-28-2007, 11:30 AM   #3
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Well, I've got news on that front - just today I managed to lay hands on a single CD with Yemeni music, and an interesting one at that - worth a little train trip so I hopped on the train to Utrecht to get it. Interesting old poet-singer accompanying himself on a "copper plate" - a percussion instrument balanced on two thumbs.

As to Yemeni Jews, there seems to be only a small remnant of them left, most having been flown to Israel in "Operation Flying Carpet".
I thought the Yemeni musical influences were merging with European-style Israeli music — that is certainly what was happening in the late 50s. I know things change, but it is shocking to see how much this world has changed.

Jack has our old LPs in the basement; maybe I can persuade him to look for the folk music from way back when. It would be interesting to hear it again, and I am sure we can find a way to digitize it. (But no promises. At least I can find out if we still have those albums.)

   
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Old 03-28-2007, 12:11 PM   #4
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(But no promises. At least I can find out if we still have those albums.)
No need for any promises - it'd be interesting just to know if you still have it and what it sounds like to you now. Even your "ear" changes over time...

   
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Old 03-28-2007, 12:21 PM   #5
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Jack found four of my old albums, and none have Yemenite dance songs, at least not described that way. Only two are basically dance records, and both of those are from Guela Gill and the Oranim Zabar Troupe.

Most of the songs were written (down?) in the 1930s, and most are in Hebrew. However, the ‘Yemenite step’ is called for in some of the tunes with a more arabic style. Two of these: Im Hashachar and Itee Milvanon.

This is (or was) composed music, not true folk, though much of it has been passed along as if it were folk music.

Besides those two, I have “Lebanon, Her Heart, Her Sounds” by the Djamal Aslan Chorus & Orchestra and “Israeli Army Songs,” which actually has a couple of dance songs on it (I have marked the steps next to a copy of the lyrics).

If you think any of this would interest you, Jack has a gizmo for making music CDs. Then I should be able to convert those to MP3s (though I have no idea what the quality would be as we have no editing software).

   
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Old 03-28-2007, 12:56 PM   #6
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Back in the late 1950s, when I did a lot of folk dancing, I had several recordings of Yemenite (or Yemenite-Israeli) folk music. I just went googling, however, and no longer find those recordings.
Thanks to the Wikipedia article on Yemenite Jews I just found this page ... now I need to find out if that CD (?) can still be found somewhere... the Unesco site gives no clue.

And I found something else (I can search better than the guy in the music store this afternoon.... ): Musiques du cœur de l’Arabie - no "Yemen" in the title, but I found it through their (misbehaving) search thingy... I'll try to order that (and another CD of Kyrgyzstan I've been after for a long time) when I come back - try to since a few years ago I already tried to order some CDs from Buda Musique but never heard back from them... But I was expecting them to have something from Yemen; glad to see they actually do!

   
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Old 03-28-2007, 12:56 PM   #7
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One mystery resolved (sort of): On the global sound section of the Smithsonian web site, I googled on Guela Gill and found her “Yemenite & Other Israeli Folk Songs.” If you want to listen to the samples (you will need Flash, I guess), #204, “Shur Do-Di” and #207 “Debka” sound something like what I remember dancing to.

Suspect this stuff is very old-fashioned, would not strike a chord with modern-day Yemeni people.

   
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Old 03-28-2007, 01:10 PM   #8
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BestPrices.com lists that UNESCO CD. Says they may be able to get it, within about six weeks.

   
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Old 03-28-2007, 01:23 PM   #9
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Jack found four of my old albums, and none have Yemenite dance songs, at least not described that way. Only two are basically dance records, and both of those are from Guela Gill and the Oranim Zabar Troupe.
Wow - I plug "Guela Gill" into Google, and guess what I find? Yemenite and Other Israeli Folksongs - like Buda Musique, Smithsonian have very good stuff!

Several results for "Oranim Zabar Troupe", too - but no clear Yemenite connection that I can find.

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Most of the songs were written (down?) in the 1930s, and most are in Hebrew. However, the ‘Yemenite step’ is called for in some of the tunes with a more arabic style. Two of these: Im Hashachar and Itee Milvanon.
That sounds interesting, too.

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If you think any of this would interest you, Jack has a gizmo for making music CDs. Then I should be able to convert those to MP3s (though I have no idea what the quality would be as we have no editing software).
Most of it sounds interesting - except maybe the army stuff. No hurry though - at least I won't have any time until I get back - but I can handle any sort of music file (including music CD files if you're not sure about conversion); just go for a high sampling rate if you try MP3 (min 192).

   
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Old 03-28-2007, 01:31 PM   #10
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One mystery resolved (sort of): On the global sound section of the Smithsonian web site, I googled on Guela Gill and found her “Yemenite & Other Israeli Folk Songs.” If you want to listen to the samples (you will need Flash, I guess), #204, “Shur Do-Di” and #207 “Debka” sound something like what I remember dancing to.

Suspect this stuff is very old-fashioned, would not strike a chord with modern-day Yemeni people.
Ha! I just found that, too. Yes, samples need Flash . But I'd just order the CD. Meanwhile I've already downloaded the liner notes (terrible quality, just bad, and not always straight, photocopies, but never mind). Interestingly, I also see a "Bukharian melody"- which I assume is from Bukhara, where I've been (several times) and even visited both the old and the new Synagogue! There is still a small Jewish community there. That CD looks like a must-have (for me).

Gosh this is all so exciting!

   
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