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Music of Islam 5: Aissaoua Sufi Ceremony
Genres: World Music, Pop
Ten years in the making, The Music of Islam series recorded in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran and Qatar represents the most comprehensive sound documentation available to Westerners to... more »
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Ten years in the making, The Music of Islam series recorded in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran and Qatar represents the most comprehensive sound documentation available to Westerners today, of a world religion dating back to 1/622. Although governed by strict rules for fourteen centuries, contact with other cultures has radically affected Islamic music throughout history. As the world enters the XV/21st century the timing of this collection serves an even larger purpose, documenting the traditions that have survived and will continue to survive for centuries to come. Today, one fifth of the world's population, one billion people, are Muslims, occupying a large territory stretching from the Atlantic shore of north and west Africa, through west, central, and south Asia to island southeast Asia, and attracting an increasing following in India, western Europe, north America, east Asia, and southern Africa. This is a global presence which cannot be ignored.'Aissaoua Sufi Ceremony, the first of three volumes in this series recorded in Morocco, captures the public performance of 'Aissaoua rituals, called hadra. 'Aissaoua is the brotherhood comprised of followers of one of Morocco's most well-known and highly regarded spiritual leaders, Shaykh 'Abd Allah Sidi Muhammad Ben 'Aisa as-Sufiani al-Mukhtari (870/1465-933/1526). 'Aissaoua performances work on several levels: for members of the brotherhood, they form part of their spiritual training; for ceremony sponsors they serve to bless the event; and for the individual pilgrim or participant, the ritual provides access to the tangible baraka (blessing) of the Shaykh (Arabic Sheikh), which can be activated for purposes of healing and guidance. The trance possession which occurs during the hadra is the most dramatic manifestation of this therapeutic function of the performance. The baraka which effects these transformations is activated and brought into the hadra by means of recitations, singing and music, all of which is traditionally featured on this double length recording. Perhaps Parsons has captured even more than the Islamic music represented here, like, the transcendence of baraka from Shaykh ben 'Aisa for all who listen.
Audio Witness to a Sufi Hadra
Dr. Debra Jan Bibel | Oakland, CA USA | 04/03/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Morocco is renown for its various Sufi brotherhoods (and its similar gnawa groups), all with unique musical sounds and approaches to trance. Brotherhoods center around particular Sufi saints, and the group of this recording, the Aissaoua, are followers of Shaykh al-Kamil (Adbd Allah Sidi Muhammad ben Aisa as-Sufiani al-Mukhtari. The recording is at a hadra, or public rite, held in a home and is composed of a selected suite of dikhr songs that are supported by small clay drums and the large wooden frame drums and cymbals. Remembrances and blessings are bestowed and other liturgical functions occur. There are various rhythms of songs (2/4; 6/8; 5/4) but at one point the tempo accelerates to take the participants toward baraka, the altered reality of bliss. The closing sections involve the ghaita, a shrill double reed oboe that was made famous by the early recordings of the Jajouka brotherhood. As part of The Music of Islam series, the album provides insight into the religion and the role of music, but from the perspective of a purely music listener, the recording could be tedious and uninteresting. Other recordings of Sufi music, or samâ, would be better choices here, but if you desire a field recording of what occurs in Sufi ceremonies, then this album certainly is valuable."