Release Date: 2018
Concept and direction: Nidaa Abou Mrad
Performed by: Arabic Classical Music Ensemble - Nidaa Abou Mrad
Arabic Violin and Kemanseh : Nidaa Abou Mrad
Oud, Chanting and Singing: Mohamad Ayach
Santur and Lyre: Hayaf Yassine
Qanun: Ghassan Sahhab
Chanting and Singing: Rafqa Rizk
4,000 Years of Music in the Levant consists of a historical journey that covers the main musical traditions of the Mašriq. It starts with the interpretation of the first noted musical piece in the history of humanity, an Ugaritic song from the middle of the second millennium BC, and a Syriac hymn attributed to Saint Ephrem the Syriac (306 373).
It also includes a Byzantine chant, two pieces of Abbasid music, noted by Ṣafiy a-d-Dīn al-Urmawī (1230 1294), and songs composed in the Abbasid style, as well as Sufi poems of Rābi‘a al –‘Adawiyya (717-796) and Muḥyīd-Dīn ibn ‘Arabī (1164-1245), musicalized in the style of the Nahḍa school (Arab Renaissance, 1798-1939).
Nidaa Abou Mrad, Dean of the Faculty of Music and Musicology at Antonine University, bases the interpretation of these sequences on extensive musicological research and on a hermeneutical and improvisational approach to this legacy, in accordance with the expertise of the members of the Arab Classical Music Ensemble of this university.
Beyond the differences of religions and verbal languages, this anthology highlights the unity of these traditions around the four-thousand-year-old generative grammar of the Levant’s common musical language.
1. Ugaritic Hurrian Hymn: The first noted musical piece in the history of humanity is the sixth Hurrian Song, from the legacy of Ugarit Kingdom (Ra’s Šamra - Latakia, circa 1500 BC). Its cuneiform notation was decoded by Richard Dumbrill.
2. Christmas Syriac Hymn: The hymn "Praise the Word", attributed to Saint Ephrem the Syriac, is performed according to both the Syriac Maronite and the Syriac Orthodox traditions.
3. Abbassid Prelude & Song: Abbassid ṭarīqa (prelude) & ṣawt (song) composed by Ṣafiy a-d-Dīn al-Urmawī in Nawrūz mode on ramal cycle. Its alphabetical notation was decoded by Nidaa Abou Mrad.
4. Ibn ‘Arabī’s Entreaty: Improvised taqsīm on sanṭūr followed by an improvised cantillation of the beginning of a Sufi poem of Muḥyī d-Dīn ibn ‘Arabī in Ḥusaynī mode.
5. Ibn ‘Arabī’s “Religion of Love”: Ṭarīqa and ṣawt composed on the ibn ‘Arabī’s Sufi poem “The Religion of Love” by Nidaa Abou Mrad, in Ḥusaynī mode on ramal cycle, following the Abbassid style of Ṣafiy a-d-Dīn al-Urmawī,.
6. Taqsīm Rāst: Non-measured taqsīm, improvised on the violin in Rāst mode.
7. Rābi‘a al-‘Adawiyya’s “Two Loves”: Vocal improvisation on a Sufi poem of Rābi‘a al-‘Adawiyya in Rāst mode and in the cantillation style of qaṣīda on waḥda cycle, related to šayḫ Yūsuf al-Manyalāwī (1850-1911).
8. Taḥmīlat Rāst: Instrumental responsorial in Rāst mode, alternating solo improvisations with collective ritornellos, based on the profile of the Rāst melody, noted in Mīḫā’īl Maššāqa’s (1800-1888) Epistle on Music.
9. Bamb Rāst: Measured taqsīm, improvised on the violin in Rāst mode, with the bamb cycle, and in Sami Chawa’s (1885-1965) style.
10. Holy Spirit Antiochian Hymn: Instrumental interpretation of Antiochian Orthodox Holy Spirit Hymn, composed by Andraos Mu‘ayqil (1890-1964), in the chromatic sixth ecclesiastical mode.
11. Taqsīm Sīkāh: Samā‘ī Sīkāh of bašraf Qarahbatak’s coda, based on the profile of the Sīkāh melody, noted by Mīḫā’īl Maššāqa, followed by taqāsīm in Sīkāh mode, improvised on qānūn and violin.
12. Ibn ‘Arabī’s poem about the Christ: Improvisational cantillation in Sīkāh mode and on waḥda cycle of a ibn ‘Arabī’s Sufi poem about the Christ, according to ‘Abdu al-Ḥamūlī’s (1843-1901) style and within a musical architecture composed by Nidaa Abou Mrad.
13. O Jerusalem: Hymn to Jerusalem, composed by Nidaa Abou Mrad, in the Nahḍa style