Exploring vernacular poetry and folk music: Al-Sadiq Al-Rizqi’s Tunisian songs
Dr Muhammad Al Kahlaui, Tunisia
The findings of this study shed light on the evolution of musical genres and performance practices across time. It delves into the wide variety of Tunisian musical styles and aesthetic expressions, as well as the myriad melodic and lyrical approaches to singing as poetry. It also delves into the aesthetics of rhythm and melody and the connection between music and the daily lives of people and communities.
Research has demonstrated that the book ‘Tunisian Songs’ by Al-Sadiq Al-Rizqi is more than just a historical document of the singing tradition in Tunisia. Instead, the significance of social presence and its impact on one's memories and emotions are highlighted. Movement patterns during the performance of melodies and rhythms, as well as dedication to them, are another area of inquiry.
There is an emphasis on a certain poetic mode, but the study also delves into the underlying meanings of sung poetry. This aesthetic originates from the way people's unique histories and experiences colour their views of the world and everything in it.
In his book ‘Tunisian Songs’, Al-Sadiq Al-Rizqi provided constructive criticism in a number of areas related to the performing arts. Even though it was his personal opinion, he felt comfortable sharing it since he believed it to be true and impartial. He sought knowledge from many fields and perspectives to bolster his point of view.
This is made obvious, for example, in his condemnation of the gatherings and praise singing on special religious festivals or during Sufi celebrations. There, he saw behaviours and patterns that he found objectionable from an intellectual and moral perspective.
Mohammed Al-Habib attempted to shed light on the issue by saying, "If we perceive some severe criticism in the book towards Sufi practices, the excuse for the author is clear, as he wrote it during a time heavily influenced by moderate schools when Sufism was stripped of its spiritual dimensions and immersed in passivity, surrendering to chance and optimism, abandoning the pursuit of effort and work, and relying solely on miracles and supernatural events."
The book ‘Tunisian Songs’ by Al-Sadiq Al-Rizqi stands out for its comprehensive aesthetic-cultural research approach, which includes anthropological elements. That is why there is so much useful information in this book. In addition to its broad cultural-historical and descriptive value, the work is also relevant from an ethnic and scientific anthropological perspective. That is to say, there are a number of reasons why this book is important.
This book provides an in-depth investigation of the cultural and psychological phenomena, rituals, and customs associated with specific singing styles and musical compositions that are performed at a wide range of celebratory occasions. This book is an excellent reference for the study of Tunisian music and songs, especially those from the 19th and 20th centuries, because it draws connections between the traditions of Tunisian culture, music, and songs.
Masoud Idris stated in his commentary on the book's translation into French that it essentially serves as the only reference for the study of Tunisian music and songs from its era because it contains a wealth of sociological and anthropological insights into the customs, traditions, and celebratory rituals of Tunisian society.
Al-Rizqi is quite detailed when presenting this knowledge and commenting on specific characteristics of the musical styles and songs that were popular in the 19th and 20th centuries.