A year of intense work, ten countries visited, more than 80 musicians interviewed and thousands of hours of footage. In this Al Jazeera Documentary Channel production, musician and documentary maker Fermin Muguruza, paints a soundscape of the Arab music scene. The result is a rhythm journey through different cultures and traditions, through the modernity, the fight, the revival, the yearning for the future and the emotion of the present. From Morocco to the Persian Gulf, from Kuwait to Lebanon, the FM team has covered a long route with the objective of increasing the mutual knowledge in a passionate and fascinating way that will bring the audience to a new fantastic soundscape.

Egypt I: Cairo
“The mother city” or “the city Victorious”, as the Egyptians know their capital Cairo, is the city of reference for the Arab music since time immemorial. It also remains in the collective memory the titanic figure of Umm Kulthum, metaphorically known as the fourth pyramid. He is a basic reference for all the musicians we met there. Umm Kulthum personality still exudes music and creation and this aspect has been remarked by all the prominent musicians appearing in this episode.

Fathy Salama is a conductor, composer and arranger. He is a staunch supporter and a professed student of Oum Kolthoum as well as an admirer of the psalmody tradition in the recitation of Koran, which is the authentic melodic school of the Islam.

Tanoura. The dervish dance consisting on moving in circles puts Tanoura into relation with the non-Arab islamic traditions such as the one of the mevlevi brotherhood, founded in Turkey by a persian mystic.

Wust el Balad takes up again the name of the place where the musicians that made of the band met. They mix in their music all their rhythmic passions ranging from the flamenco cajon drum to the blues and eastern music. The outcome is very surprising and personal.

Arabian Knightz & MC Amin. Even though rap was born in the US, poetry is an arab invention. This is at least these musicians position. Prophet Mohammed improvised his speeches in the same way Eminem improvises his rhymes nowadays.

Eftekasat. This band´s name comes from the streets slang and means no other than something new. This is exactly what they do when they mix music from the Balkans with latin, greek and Turkish music. All these styles are joined together under the big influence of the jazz.

Omar Khairat was born in a bourgeoise family with a long musical tradition which was very influenced by the European music tradition. Khairat combines in his work the knowledge he has of Chopin and Beethoven with his love for Oum Kolthoum or Abdelwahab.

Egypt II: El rio Nilo

It is a journey through the Nile, the river of life, from the south of the country, the Upper Egypt. The journey starts in Assuan were Mohamed Mounir, the most outstanding figure of the Egyptian music scene at present, was born. Then it goes through Luxor and Assiout, where we attend a sufi ceremony conducted by Sheik Ahmed El Touni. Afterwards we head back to Cairo and then we are lead to the Mediterranean Sea where we will visit its two slopes: Alexandria and Port Said.

Ahmed el Touni. Sufi music is an Islamic extended cult, not only in its popular forms but also in its scholar traditions. Ahmed el Touni is a sufi singer, someone devoted to pass on the message of the Islam by means of the chant and to honor the great mystic singers tradition.

Makan is an Art Center working for the preservation of the traditional music and its context as well as for the cultural network which guarantees the existence of the traditions and the development of a tradition in action, a cultural past with future and present prospects.

Madiha is the heir of the Zar tradition, which is the leader of a spiritual form based on a matrilineal pattern of transmission. Zar is an old ritual healing ceremony which uses music as an enhancer of the therapeutic trance.

Massar Egbari define their style as a combination of rock, jazz and eastern rhythms. The way they look at the world is critical and they identify their music with Egypt and particularly with Alejandria, the place where the sea brings a new approach to the Earth.

El Tamboura is a band made up of experienced musicians from Port Said, located at the Mediterranean entrance of Suez Canal. They bring back the traditional music from the north of Egypt.

Mohammed Mounir, nubian, is a big star within the egyptian tv showbussiness as an actor and as a singer.


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Fermin Muguruza

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