The Ya Raqs girls had joined Meroe’s regular Thursday dance class for a special class that had been arranged with Guy and one that didn’t involve any dancing! Guy gave a quick introduction to the main differences between classical and folkloric music, which included introducing the group to a range of musical instruments. He made us all work, there were lots of questions and that was just from Guy!
He then went on to talk about Ashra Baladi and explain how it is structured, in order to help us have a better understanding of how it’s performed. We starting off learning all about the improvised introduction called a taxim. Then he moved on to explaining how the melody was introduced and told us about a song from the late 1930s titled Aminti Billah, that is often used. Guy then got the group to do something that was totally unexpected. To make his point, and to help the group get the melody of this song, he got us all to sing it! Everyone was a bit hesitant at first, but we did it and it even sounded musical in places - or was that just wishful thinking on my part! Anyway, the singing certainly helped although the reason why some of the group were dancers and not singers became a little more evident, but………… well, let’s just leave it at that and say no more!
I won’t bore you my own account of what Ashra Baladi is, particularly when Guy explains it so much better – check out his website and click on the Workshops page. It was a brilliant and very informative evening and I think everyone in the group learned something new at this seminar.
If you get a chance to attend a workshop by Guy - do it - we had a great time and learned so much. And we got to buy a copy of his latest CD too!