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"The Real Arab Book" now available from OrTav

book coverYossi Zucker writes that "The Real Arab Book," described last month on this blog, is now available directly from Or Tav in Israel. Regarding the question of translation to English he also writes:

To clarify the issue of the English translation of the text in "The Real Arab Book:"

There are two sections with text in Hebrew:

  • A two page introduction, with very short descriptions (not even full sentences sometimes)
  • The addendum, which is a discussion of the scales of the maqamat, which has partly Hebrew titles and again extremely short Hebrew descriptions/definitions.

In the body of the book, all titles and the names of composers are given in English as well.

Quickly going over the texts, I see that I could, with the author's permission, translate the introduction and insert the page. Providing a translation of the section on the scales of the maqamat is problematic. First of all, I would need to receive the original music files from the authors and insert the texts. Secondly, I am not sure how useful this section is, or (more importantly) how accurate. The authors have chosen to list the scales for the maqamat, but the scales are not the maqamat. Also, some of the divisions into families of scales that they have made may not be the most accurate. We are working very hard to be able to issue our English translation of David Muallem's "The Scale and Maqam in the Arabic Musical Tradition," and there you will find a much more detailed and accurate description of the scales and the maqamat that are based on the scales, along with a demonstration CD played on kanun. This book should be ready in several months.

I think that we should see "The Real Arab Book" as a collection of melodies and songs, and leave the business of explaining the maqamat to those who do it better.