Arabesque: Music of the Arab World
Summary: In this series, Georges Collinet, host of NPR’s Afropop Worldwide, explores the rich history and culture of the music of the Arab World. Arabic musicians and scholars demonstrate the sounds of string, wind and percussion instruments that directly influenced the development of musical instruments common to the modern Western world. The importance of universal musical concepts, such as improvisation, ornamentation and audience participation are discussed in the context of the Arab World, as are the ideas of musical nationality and folk tradition in the face of modern cultural globalization. ARTSEDGE, the Kennedy Center’s arts education network, supports the creative use of technology to enhance teaching and learning in, through, and about the arts, offering free, standards-based teaching materials for use in and out of the classroom, media-rich interactive experiences, professional development resources, and guidelines for arts-based instruction and assessment. Visit ARTSEDGE at artsedge.kennedy-center.org.
Much of what defines the music of the Arab World is the experience, not only for the musician, but also for the listener. In the Arab World, the audience is an active participant, responding to the ornamental and improvisatory offerings of the players, giving vocal feedback while in a state of “musical ecstacy.” Joined by Arabic music scholars and musicians, host Georges Collinet (NPR’s Afropop Worldwide) explores this important bond between musician and audience, and how it creates a unique musical relationship.
The Arab World spans the width of North African Maghreb, across the Arabian Peninsula and into the Levant. Centuries of indigenous and nomadic traditions have created a musical cultural tapestry of unique regional styles bound by common themes and ideas. In the 21st Century, Arabic folk music traditions have been confronted with increased globalization, from Egyptian mega-star Umm Kulthum, to the worldwide influence of Western media. Host Georges Collinet (NPR’s Afropop Worldwide) is joined by Arabic musicians to discuss the many styles and future of music of the Arab World.