Academic journal article Yearbook for Traditional Music

Kuwait: Sea Songs of the Arabian Gulf: Hamid Bin Hussein Sea Band

Academic journal article Yearbook for Traditional Music

Kuwait: Sea Songs of the Arabian Gulf: Hamid Bin Hussein Sea Band

Article excerpt

Kuwait: Sea Songs of the Arabian Gulf: Hamid Bin Hussein Sea Band. 2014. Music of the Earth. Multicultural Media MCM3051. Recorded, annotated, and produced by Lisa Urkevich. 32-page booklet with notes in English. Colour and b/w photographs, musical notations, map, glossary. CD, 11 tracks (55:46).

Despite the end of millinery pearl fishing activity some eight decades ago, the performance of sea songs has persisted as one of the richest and most amazing musical repertoires of the Gulf Coast and the Arab world in general. The two components of sea songs-work and leisure songs-in their old context were performed separately, as befitted their differing functions and venues. Distinctions were reflected in their suite structure, in the body movements, and in the differing number of musical instruments (more in the onshore leisure performances). With the end of pearl fishing, the two complementary repertoires appear side by side in the same leisure performance space, transmitted as reminiscence of older times and as a transnational musical expression of the region's culture.

The present CD and accompanying text are welcome reminders that the venerated sea song traditions of the pearl fishers are still alive in the upper Gulf region, supported by a considerable number of devotees, specialists, and amateurs. With the exception of two examples of unknown origin from the 1960s and 1970s, Professor Urkevich's recordings feature a selection of work and leisure songs performed in situ between 2006 and 2012 by the Hamid bin Hussein family ensemble, known since the 1940s-a time when the group's members were still in contact with pearl divers. …

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