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The Aleppo Qudud: A Melting Pot of Original Arab Sufi Singing and Modern Taste

Issue 62
The Aleppo Qudud: A Melting Pot of Original Arab Sufi Singing and Modern Taste

Dr. Elias Boudin, PHD in Music and Musical Sciences from the Higher Institute of Music in Tunis

One of the key forms in the evolution of mediaeval Arabic lyricism into modern Arabic lyricism is the Qudud form.

Studies on the history of music confirm that "Alepo Qudud" is the Levantine artistic school that, since the early twentieth century, has worked alongside the Egyptian school to advance the traditional lyrical musical heritage and to generate a large part of the Arab lyrical musical corpus. By so, renewing most of the traditional musical structures and innovating creative new new ones based on some of the constants found in traditional forms, especially in the use of modal melodies.

Given its pivotal role in linking two eras of Arab music and singing urges the question following questions: what are the origins of Qudud, which occurred during a time when Arab culture and urbanisation were in decline? To what extent does the lyrical Al-Qad (singular of Qudud) form stand out from other Arab creative traditions? How might one claim that the form and content of this work diverge from the poetic and musical norm?

To address these questions, I will provide a brief historical overview of the development and origins of the Qudud, focusing on the Aleppo Qudud, their connection to the Sufi Qudud, and how to structure them melodically. This is done with the intention of bringing to light the vocal qualities of this singing and the technical approaches it takes in performances.

The parallels between the Aleppo Qudud and the Sufi Qudud, two musical traditions that extend back hundreds of years, are the primary topic of this article, which, as the title implies, concentrates on the similarities between the two.

The "Aleppo Qudud" songs form an enormous collection of simple, joyful melodies composed by the composers of the city of Aleppo, which had a distinguished commercial and economic position until the end of the nineteenth century and, for several centuries, due to its strategic location, was on the path of caravans heading from the far east of Asia to the far west of Europe and from the far south of the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, and the Arab Maghreb to the far north of the Islamic world.

In Syrian singing heritage, the Aleppo Qudud represented the city's fundamental folkloric singing style. They are traditional folk songs that people sing in the evenings, at parties, and on road trips, and they have been passed down from generation to generation with no knowledge of who authored the lyrics or composed the music.

Many famous Syrian vocalists, like Sabah Fakhri, Muhammad Khairy, Sabri Al-Mudalal, Mustafa Maher, and others, sang the Aleppo Qudud.

Originally, Al-Qudud emerged from religious songs performed during dhikr. Then others replaced religious lines with flirtatious phrases while leaving the music intact. The new songs became popular at weddings and other special occasions.

As a result of keeping the same tune and using phrases that were similar to the old words but with a shift in meaning, the new songs were given the name "Qudud" (lyrics that are created to fit with the original tunes).

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