Performing Al-Andalus: Music and Nostalgia across the Mediterranean

Performing Al-Andalus: Music and Nostalgia across the Mediterranean

Performing Al-Andalus: Music and Nostalgia across the Mediterranean

Performing Al-Andalus: Music and Nostalgia across the Mediterranean

Synopsis

Performing al-Andalus explores three musical cultures that claim a connection to the music of medieval Iberia, the Islamic kingdom of al-Andalus, known for its complex mix of Arab, North African, Christian, and Jewish influences. Jonathan Holt Shannon shows that the idea of a shared Andalusian heritage animates performers and aficionados in modern-day Syria, Morocco, and Spain, but with varying and sometimes contradictory meanings in different social and political contexts. As he traces the movements of musicians, songs, histories, and memories circulating around the Mediterranean, he argues that attention to such flows offers new insights into the complexities of culture and the nuances of selfhood.

Excerpt

One
In the Shadows of Ziryab:
Narratives of al-Andalus and
Andalusian Music

OVERTURE: we are all sons of ziryab

One afternoon in Granada I join a friend in Plaza Nueva, located at the foot of the old “Moorish” quarter of the Albaicín. He manages a little tourist shop that specializes in artesanía (arts and crafts), mostly imported wooden boxes and glassware from his native Algeria, as well as trinkets from Morocco and elsewhere. We had met the day before when, walking around the Calle Calderería Nueva, I heard the voice of the great Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum issuing from his shop. It was too much to resist, so I went in, and we began talking about music and life in Granada. After half an hour or so we agreed to meet in the main square the next day. At the appointed hour I find him in front of a news kiosk. Because he finds the Albaicín to be “sinister” he prefers for us to head today to the newer side of town. Not only is it more pleasant to sit there, he claims, but he wants to introduce me to a friend who runs a music store nearby where I am sure to find all sorts of CDs for my project on Andalusian music. Not long after we finish our freshly squeezed orange juices at a pleasant café near the Fuente de las Batallas, we walk over to the store, a small shop stacked high with recordings. the proprietor welcomes us both warmly, and we get to discussing the ins and outs . . .

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