Intro to Arab Music

139 South St, Northampton (139 South Street, Northampton MA 01060)

April 7, 2023
7:00-8:30 pm
Northampton Community Music Center
Free Admission, Limited Seating Available
This program has been made possible through a grant from the Northampton Arts Council and Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Arabic music has a distinctive sound—an enveloping sound with unique, haunting rhythms; it has a defining structure based on ancient modes called maqams, but allows plenty of improvisation, individually and collectively.  This presentation will include a brief history of Arabic music and its development through the ages—from antiquity and pre-Islamic times, to its rise in the 20th century, its influence on western music, and the prominent place it occupies in world music today.  It will also explain the distinctive features of Arabic music (the quarter tone, the maqam, and the Iqa’) and give an overview of all stringed instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments used in traditional folk and classical ensembles.  Attendees will watch a live demonstration of the unique rhythmic patterns and percussion instruments used in the traditional Arabic ensemble and will watch video clips that showcase the various instruments as well as examples of vocal and instrumental musical forms.

A Palestinian, born and raised in Beirut, Michel Moushabeck is a versatile percussionist with over 40-years experience in tabla, riqq, and daff performance. In addition to classical Arabic music, he is comfortable playing a variety of musical styles from jazz to flamenco to Afro-Cuban congas. Michel came to the U.S. in 1979, attended New York University, and has since performed at notable concert halls worldwide, including London’s Peacock Theatre, Singapore’s Victoria Theatre, Paris’s La Salle Gaveaux, and Washington, DC’s Carnegie Auditorium. For 30 years, he has been the director and lead percussionist of the Boston-based Layaali Arabic Music Ensemble. The ensemble is committed to performing the traditional music of the Arab world and to preserving the rich legacy of Arabic culture through soulful vocals, hypnotic instrumental improvisations, electrifying percussion, and faithful renditions and recordings of master works. He played riqq, tabla and daff on the music soundtrack of an award-winning BBC/WGBH documentary on Islam, which aired as part of the series The People's Century. His recording credits include two albums: Lost Songs of Palestine and Folk Songs and Dance Music from Turkey and the Arab World. He is the author of several books and he lectures frequently on Arabic music and literature. He makes his living as an editor and publisher.