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Saturday , October 24 2020

‘We copy the music of others’


The song ‘Ya Musafer Wahdak’ is one of the most beautiful tunes of the eminent Egyptian musician Mohammad Abdel Wahab, or this is what I thought until yesterday. The lyrics of the song written by Hussein Al-Sayed go like this:

Oh lone traveler passing me

Why are you leaving me and preoccupying me

You said goodbye with barely a ‘salaam’

I’m giving you my heart

These eye tears of mine speak

Oh lone traveler passing me

In the fire of desire I will wait

And be patient with my heart and hope

Though you don’t come to me I am happy

Make me desirous in your presence and promise me

I’m afraid that the estrangement might be sweet for you

And that the distance changes your conditions

May I always be on your mind?

Oh lone traveler passing me

No matter how big the distance between us

My heart will never change

I will remember you more

But first just you must keep thinking of me

I do not know how many times I have listened to this song, which dates back to the 1940s, and how much I enjoyed it. It is the song which was composed and performed by Abdel Wahab in the film ‘Love is forbidden’ and he described it as a very sophisticated song, very difficult and exhausting to compose.

But a few days ago and by chance I heard a very old song by the famous Greek singer and actress Sofia Vempo, which dates back to the late 1930s and is composed by Greek Costas Giannides, and I found its melody the same as the song Ya Musafer without any addition or any change.

I almost doubted who took it from the other, but other experiences of Abdul Wahab as appeared in Internet suggest that he quoted the Greek tune. He, like other great Arab, Persians, Turkish and other musicians, Abdel Wahab had been influenced by the international musical compositions and quoted the most famous tunes and attributed to them.

Without this truth, I would  have said that the Greek  benefited from the tune of Abdel Wahab, the list of quotations of the professional musician are long starting from the ‘Saja al-Layl’ to the end of the operetta, Majnoun Laila, composed by the musician Casio, through the prelude of the song of the Al-Gandoul (gondola), similar to the Russian Shehrazade Symphony of Ramesky Korsakov, in addition to the prelude of the famous Al-Qamh Allila (wheat is tonight) from the ballet ‘Nutcracker’ of the Russian musician  Tchaikovsky, and many others, such as the prelude of the song ‘Ah mennak Ya Garehni’ which is one of the popular Romanian musics.

As in the song ‘Yally Btnadi Alefk’ based on the eighth Symphony of Schopart, not to mention the prelude of the song ‘El mayyah Terwy Al-Atshan’ from the ‘Barber of Sevilla’ of the musician Gioachino Rossini, and important parts of the song of La Takzebi (Do not lie) and the song Fouq Al-Shouk (over thorns) of Abdel Halim Hafez which is the prelude of a Western melody playing at tea parties and so much more. This is what I got from the Internet.

Khalifah Al-Kharafi says that despite his confidence that many of the great Arab composers such as Abdel Wahab, Farid al-Atrash and Rahabaniya have quoted or were influenced by the tunes of others; their advantages are more than their negativities. They have contributed to raising the level of Arab and oriental artistic taste in general. Why do we not disagree with him.

By Ahmad Al-Sarraf

e-mail: habibi.enta1@gmail.com

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