Aug 30, 2005

What do you listen to while working?

What do you listen to when you work or study?

I usually look for no-lyrics, melow but not boring, complex but not distracting type of music. My favorites:

1- Mystical Legacies by Ali Jihad Racy. This album contains solo pieces by Racy on different Arabic and Middle Eastern instruments. The nay tracks are especially beautiful. Racy is considered the foremost Arabic musician in the US (yes, not Simon Shaheen)

2- Clarinet Trio & Quintet by Brahms. Towards the end of his life, Brahms decided to retire and never compose again, but then he did. And the last few pieces he produced were amazing. While I find early Brahms a bit too "obvious", his late compositions are truly at a different level. Just like with Mozart's Requiem and Beethoven's Ninth (although his earlier pieces are also amazing), for some reason, "maturity" does show up in music. And it's not just music maturity, but it's life-experience reflected on the composition.

So that is me. What do -you- listen to while working or studying?

Aug 27, 2005

Oh sweet California

Sabbar at china town 5
Originally uploaded by arrabi.
I go to this small dinky arab shop next to the musala in san jose (California, where I've moved very recently), and
what do I find!? ha, what do I find in this small dinky arab shop!?
In this small dinky arab shop, I find a piece of my lost spirit:

- SABBAR!! (prickly pears), oh, I've been looking for this stuff for so
long! In seattle I used to hunt in China Town every weekend to get it
like once a year.
- Bala7!! (yes, not Tamer, but hard juicy yellow Bala7). I did not have
bala7 since I was in Jordan in 2000. Ah.. the years I've yearned for one.
- real Teen!! and I'm not talking about the plastic green stuff you get
at Safeway. This is nice sweet teen (although I'm still looking for
that Syrian purple teen - big, juicy & self-peeling)
- Khiyar and Kosa!! the real thing, small & tasty and free of those huge
- white Seeds (bizir ya3ni, bizir!)

ah.. I know this sounds weird, but mediterranean fruits are hard to find in the US. California is so different. It's so similar to back home. People even have Lemon & Orange trees in their backyards.

(note: I didn't have my camera, so forgive me for using an older picture of Sabbar in Seattle)

Aug 25, 2005

Hijab Swim Suits!

Interesting idea... and... they actually look nice. It'll be nice to know if they are practical (did anybody try them or have seen them in use?)

Aug 23, 2005

The problem of modern Arabic music

Many accuse modern Arabic songs with extreme degradation.

You hear: Oh, Om Kalthoum's songs are the best.
You hear: All this Amr-Diab, Nansi stuff is nonsense.

But is it?
What makes a good song?
You can spend years researching the question. You can come up with a complicated rating system that gives points depending on the originality of the melody, the meaningfulness of the words, the "dignity" of the singer, etc. But then at the end, you would just create a very complicated system to answer the question "how much do you like this song?"; a question you can answer instantly after listening to it. And, if some other person creates another rating system, most likely his results will differ from yous. Thus, this whole rating system idea does not get us anywhere.

So again to the question, what makes a good song?
It seems that what matters the most, is whether people like the songs or not. Do the people in the Arab world like the modern songs? Just by looking at the concerts, bus stations, radio channels - a resounding yes, people love the music of today.

And this brings us full-circle: why do people accuse modern Arabic songs with extreme degradation, if they actually like them?

I don't know. Do you?