Thursday, August 6, 2009

The many sources of aurgasm

A number of my friends have fallen victim to my blathering on and on and on about music; usually over artists / music genre that they never heard before or care about. *grin* You could recognise them after the fact of my bending their unwilling ears by the glazed look in their eyes and the discreet drool slowly dripping off their chin.

Tonight, I was introduced to a new source of aurgasms: qasidah. It is a form of poetry that is paired with melody and beat, recited in honour of some special personage. In Malaysia, it is commonly sung as tribute to the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, at weddings, cukur jambul and other ceremonies with a strong religious overtones (which is many for Malays).

The group Al-Kawakib presented three qasidah tonight at the 51st Al-Quran Recitation Assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre. I saw parts of it on live telecast, courtesy of TV1, with one part interrupted by a remote control battle with my niece. I'm proud to say that tonight? I won. The qasidah was part of the performance during the break before the rest of the qari and qariah presented their recital in the second half.

There were roughly 12 men in the group, with three in the last row with hand drums to keep the beat. Their ages range from early twenties to late fifties. There were four lead singers lauding praise to the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, with the rest either keeping beat or backup harmonies. Each singer had a red-bound song book placed on rehal (an instrument to support the Al-Quran when reading on the floor, commonly made of wood) placed before them; they appeared to be handwritten. The beautiful melding of tenor and baritone brought tears to my eyes, their voices resonating with love and devotion.

For a song to capture me, it need not even be in a language I understand. It is all about the melody and the emotions expressed in the voice that moves you. I have cried listening to flamenco songs; for all I know, they were singing about losing their goats in the Pyrenees. But the mournfulness of the song was unmistakable, tugging at the beating organ behind my sternum. Sigh. I am such a sap.

The power of emotion relayed through voice cannot be underplayed. To many ears, the recital by the qariah from Kazakhstan was rather flat and monotonous; she had no flourishes or rills common to most qaris. To me however, her recital was heartfelt; I thought that her approach suited the surah she was reading wonderfully. She recited Al-Hadid from verse 20 onwards and if you read the meaning, you'll understand what I mean. The clear, bell-like tones of her voice was simply wonderful to my ears. Her purity of note brought to mind the silky flutes of 60s instrumental songs that always made me think of a really good acid trip. Okay, perhaps the comparison was not apt, but I think you know what I mean.

Perhaps I can win the remote control war again tomorrow night. I need my daily dose of aurgam.


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