Rizzaq gets a makeover

September 3, 2009 § Leave a comment

In my post on Syrian musician Omar Souleyman, I mentioned this youtube clip from Syrian musician Abdel Rizzaq al-Jabouri in order to highlight some of the ways that Syrians from the city centers of Damascus and Aleppo look down on the musical stylings of Syrians from the Jazira Suriya (Eastern Syria). At first, I incorrectly said that Rizzaq’s name was Shawi (as indicated on the youtube clip), but it turns out Shawi is a derogatory term used toward Arabs which could mean Hick or Redneck in English.

Arabic Music Translation has an excellent post re-situating this video clip in the environment in which it was produced. The post notes:

This is a song and video produced by a local production company, likely recorded in the absence of much digital technology aside from the synthesizer known as the Org in Syria. The song, is based on a debke or folk song that exists in myriad forms and has many variable verses and lines that change from person to person and indeed village to village.

The setting is the general area of Deir Ezzor in Eastern Syria on the banks of the Euphrates River, which has a population comprised mainly of a Bedouin and Kurd admixture, and this cultural context gives the music of this region its particular sound.

The post also documents the lyrics in both Arabic and English. The most interesting aspect of this song and musician is how Rizzaq recorded a second video for the Arabic music channel al-Dhahabiya.

Syrian music video director Jamal Baghdadi uses the prototypical video setting/concept seen in many Arabic music clips, but especially those aired on the channel al-Dhahabiya. Baghdadi is a prolific director and even got some attention in 2005 for what some saw as the “excessive quantity of dancers” used in his videos. His defense? He does what the musicians want. The channel al-Dhahabiya is notorious for this style of video (see: Girls Dancing) and to a certain extent, it seems that Baghdadi and his family have a monopoly of sorts in directing the videos of Syrian musicians from the hinterlands.

Rizzaq’s new recording of the song, as pointed out by AMT, is somewhat bland. Producers obviously got a hold of the song and “cleaned it up” for a wider audience, most likely one in the Gulf.

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