El Mastaba Center has a brilliant line-up of Egyptian Folk Music in the month of October, 2015 (see schedule). Every Thursday at the El Dammah Theatre for 30 EGP (20EGP with reservations) enjoy an interactive evening of dance and song with troupes such as El Tanbura from Port Said and the Bedouin Jerry Can Band from Sinai.
El Mastaba Center celebrates its 15th anniversary, founded in 2000 by Zakaria Ibrahim, and Cairo The Family Guide (AUC Press) is proud to have been the first publication to write about the Center in its 2001 edition. Here is an excerpt from the Guide:
El Mastaba is an independent cultural center, which is dedicated to collecting and documenting Egyptian music, song, and dance, and recording it. Folkloric music is passed down through generations connected by instruments, language, beliefs, and communities. For example, the music of Rango developed when people from Sudan and Ethiopia began to settle in northern Egypt.
Mohammad Ali’s army conquered Sudan in 1820. During the next fifty years, Sudanese joined the army. Slaves were brought from Ethiopia and southern Sudan to work in cotton cultivation. People from these tribes formed communities such as one found today in Ismailiya—Arayshiyyit al-Abid (the Slaves Stockades), and they developed their music, which has similarities to Middle Eastern culture but with its own sense of rhythm and meaning. -Cairo the Family Guide.
The music of RANGO is performed on homemade instruments. There are only a few rango idiophones left in existence; the rango is a Sudanese marimba that is made of wooden keys with gourd-like resonators. The percussionists play on goatskin drums, use a recycled steel girder and shakers from aerosol cans. Wrapped around the dancer is a mangor— a belt made of hundreds of dried goats’ hooves. The tanbura—a huge wooden lyre draped in tassels and beads—plays and important role in Zar music and probably originated in Upper Egypt.
NubNour presents traditional Nubian music, dances, and songs, many of which reflect the suffering of the Nubian people: in the 1960s, around 100,000 Nubians were forced to resettle in the desert without compensation when the rising waters from the construction of the High Dam flooded the villages of their homeland. Since then, they have suffered political marginalization and, as their way of life was tied to the Nile, a loss of identity and culture. However, their music continues to be inspired by this displacement and loss which figure prominently in their music. This music plays an important role in keeping alive the Nubian heritage and languages.
“Amandujr” is an ancient Nubian legend about the Nile. It tells how people drowned beneath the currents of the world’s greatest river never die and how their souls continue to live deep in the River bed.
Nubian people felt a great affinity with nature, living their lives in accordance with the seasons and continual ebb and flow of the Nile – the earliest Nubian songs were inspired by their farming origins. Nubian hand drums, known as “Duff” (fashioned from goat skins and wood) were thought to be a key link between their people and their environment, with the ability to produce the sounds of Fire, Water and Air through complex rhythms. In addition to songs for cultivation and harvesting the Nubian people sang epic poetry of Love and religion, recognising both Islam and Christianity. – el Mastaba Center
Concerts start at 9:00 pm at El Dammah Theater: (check time! in the winter months time might change to 8:00pm)
30 Al Belaasi, Al Balaqsah, Abdeen, Cairo, Egypt.
Doors open at 8:30 pm
Tickets at the door, 30 LE
Reserved tickets 20 LE (Telephone 011 50 99 5354)
One more thing —the Simsimiyya, an ancient Egyptian lyre.
There is evidence that the simsimiyya has existed for centuries in the Arabian Gulf and along East Africa. Her music (the lyre is always referred to as feminine and her players as lovers) is said to have the ability to calm the waters of the Red Sea. Another folk tale attributes her origins to a mysterious, enchanting Siren who slowly seduces both the lover and the audience with mesmerizing melodies derived from ancient exorcism rituals.-Zakaria Ibrahim
On one of my expeditions to Gilf el-Kabir, our guides built a simsimiyya lyre from a cupboard door (with handle), wire, and whittled pegs. Evening of sipping strong tea as the cold rose around us, we were warmed by delicate sounds that took their leave across the ancient sands.
Music by Michael Levy
“My Heart Was Burnt by Love”
Album: An Ancient Lyre Echoes of the Ancient World – created at http://animoto.com
**All rights reserved by Lesley Lababidi. To copy or re-produce photography and/or writings, written permission from Lesley Lababidi is required.