This album is devoted to the griots of the Moors, these ancient Arabic-speaking nomads who traveled all over the western Sahara through the centuries, from Senegal to the south of Morocco. The griots, professional musicians belonging to ancient lineages, are still, for the time being, the almost exclusive holders of the forms of classical music that they transmit from generation to generation.
The large trough-zither inanga accompanies a collection of court songs which recount the events of the lives of the kings. The historical value of these songs, which have been carefully – almost like an initiation rite – transmitted from generation to generation, is immense.
Music is very important for the Bamum people. The repertoire, instruments and performances are linked to every aspect of the life and history of the kingdom. Much of the instruments and repertoires were appropriated from the various populations conquered by the Bamum; the secret societies play specific instruments which are their emblems; each major political event requires the presence of specific musical pieces.
This recording presents two genres of music and songs which are part of the Hue tradition: aristocratic music, performed in the past for entertainment by non-professional musicians, called Ca Hue or Songs of Hue, and the Court music performed by large ensembles and court musicians, called Nhac cung dinh or Music of the Palace.
The music performed on this CD is the music of the West Syrian Church, that is the monophysite-jacobite Church or more precisely the Syrian Orthodox Church of Aleppo. It is exclusively vocal and its liturgical language is Syriac. The repertoire which goes back to the 4th century includes antiphonal psalmody and chanting as well as vocal improvisations in solo.
Ca trù is an art musical form, mostly vocal which originated six centuries ago in North Vietnam. It is performed for a small group of listeners at leisure time and in the intimacy of a small room. Women sing these songs and mark the rhythm on a phach, a thin bamboo or wooden board thirty centimetres long which is struck using two wooden sticks.
Matar Muhammad was born in 1939 in the Bekaa plain (Lebanon). He came from a family of Gypsies, wandering musicians from father to son. From the age of seven onwards, his father and elder brother taught him the art of buzuq, the Arab long-necked lute. Heir to an oral tradition, his inbred gifts allowed him to practice a truly sophisticated art in an empirical manner.
The Kasbek ensemble was one of the first in Germany to become aware of the value of klezmer music and its long experience in the setting of the music of Eastern Europe meant that this ensemble could add to its repertory of klezmer readily and continuously. The balalaika is certainly not to be taken as the instrument typical of klezmer. Nevertheless, it was timidly introduced into the United States, just like the clarinet which today has become almost indispensable.