Search - Various Artists, Jamiila :: Songs From a Somali City

Songs From a Somali City
Various Artists, Jamiila
Songs From a Somali City
Genre: World Music
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1


CD Details

All Artists: Various Artists, Jamiila
Title: Songs From a Somali City
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Original Music
Release Date: 5/10/1995
Genre: World Music
Style: Africa
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 719511000729

CD Reviews

Excellent and unique
J. Davey | USA | 12/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"All of the "Original Music" releases from Africa are truly gems, wonderful recordings of real music on the ground in a cultural milieu. Jamiila is a particularly delightful and light-hearted selection. Instruments mostly include warm flute, kaban (a variety of stringed instrument - simpler than the oud, less exotic than the sentir), voice and YeS o YeS, CASIO. Casio in its most undisguised display. The casio doesn't appear on all tracks but where it is employed it is with the basic casio sound. The other tracks are rustic and simple, lovely. The context gives the casio employment a truly lofi appeal. My favorite track on this recording "Laac" is a soulful exchange between voice and flute, ryhthmic kaban strokes holding a tight beat for the languid bluesy exchange of voices. If something from the "Original Music" label comes your way, never pass it up if you are a true ethnographic music lover. You won't be disappointed!"
Good recording: Need more liner notes though
Marianne Sarkis | Tallahassee, FL | 10/27/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"The Somalis have a long and rich tradition of poetry that deals with themes of love, clan relations, war, and kinship. In profane contexts, poetry was accompanied by music and minimal instrumentation that framed and accentuated its inherent melodies. These instruments typically never went beyond the daf (tambourine), kaban (ud from Lebanon and Syria), and taruumbo (flute). These are the same instruments used all over the eastern part of Africa like Kenya, the Sudan, and Tanzania, and tended to link, at least musically these parts of Africa with the Arab world. Along the coastal towns, however, one notices the introduction and use of non-African instruments such as the electric guitar, electric keyboard, and harmonium which was imported from India along with Bollywood films.

The compilation of songs on the album Jamiila comes to us from the town of Baraawe, about 120 miles South of Mogadishu near the Shebelle river. The inhabitants of this area tend to be more diverse than those in the North, and are considered to be a minority group in Somalia. The mixture of the population in this area is primarily of mixed Arab and African ancestry or Africans from Bantu origin. They typically speak Chimina (Bantu family), af May-May, Swahili, and some Arabic.

The CD itself can be divided into two main groups of songs. The first group contains Western-type instrumentation such as the guitar and electric keyboard and tends to rely heavily on the rumba beat. The second group is mostly a collection of songs reminiscent of traditional Sudanese songs, and tend to be more subtle, slow, and use much less instrumentation.

In the first group, the title song of the CD, Jamiila, comes to us first and introduces us to the love poetry of Somalia sung by Kuusow "Kurtunwaarey". The song is reminiscent of wedding music as it relies heavily on the organ rumba beat-keeping mechanism and uses the bass guitar to set the melody. However, the song works well in highlighting the vocal qualities of the singer. This trend is then followed by the other songs in the group (Yaabint, Muumina, and Siina Miiri) and except for one of the songs, they are all written by the same composer. However, by the last track of the CD, Siina Miiri, the organ music is overwhelming, high-pitched, and makes it quite difficult to appreciate the vocal qualities of the singer. This song is performed in Chimini, and is more lamenting in feeling than the other songs on the album. This is the only song that has a harmonizing vocal back-up.

The second group of songs consisting of Laac, Dakhtar and Ma Korto are more traditional and use very little instrumentation, and what is there is used to accentuate the inherent melody of the poem. Track 6, Ma Korto, is most reminiscent of traditional music from the Sudan, especially songs by Hamza el Din. It uses the kaban and the taruumbo. From the liner notes: "A most unusual love song, this the singer is not only amorous by betrothed; his problem is that his future wife has stopped growing!" It is sung in traditional Somali.

The liner notes in this CD orient the listener to Somalia in general and the Horn of Africa. The author discusses the role of Islam in shaping the cultures of the region including the music. This is followed by a brief discussion on instrumentation, and an introduction to the artists on the CD. The author notes that the performers are part-timers, yet they typically play together, and that some of them are soldiers. There are two elements that are missing from the liner notes. First, how do these recordings fit in the general context of Somali music historically and culturally? Second, who are the composers of these poems or love songs? According to Mohamed Diriye Abudllahi, a "Somali song is usually the product of the fruitful cooperation between three persons: the composer of the lyrics, midho, the composer of the music, lahan, and the singer, `odka (voice)" (117). The song information, in this CD, include the title of the song and the performers only. No translation of the song is provided, no mention of the composers, and some songs don't get any introduction beyond the cursory statement that it is "one more love song" such as in the case of Laiilaf.

Overall, the CD was enjoyable and provided a good flavor of the music of the Southern region of Somalia. Since the listener is not provided with a translation, however rudimentary, of the lyrics, it was difficult to appreciate the poetry of the songs, and the reason they were written in the first place. This made it challenging at times to get the full appreciation of the music.

Abdullahi, Mohamed Diriye
2001 Culture and Customs of Somalia. Culture and Customs of Africa Series. Greenwood Press, Westport: CT."