Thursday, January 25, 2007

Umfalastin: Resistance through Music

Music can provide a powerful rallying point for Resistance movements. This post reviews ''Ila Mataa?' by Rima Tarazi and Tania Tamari Nasir, a collection of songs dedicated to the Palestinian Resistance against the Zionist Occupation.

In 1986, Rima Tarazi and Tania Tamari Nasir recorded a number of extraordinarily powerful songs about Palestine. The songs were written by Rima Tarazi and sung by Tania primarily to the accompaniment of piano. Although both artists were born and raised in Palestine, the music represents a synthesis of East and West through its use of piano as well as Western operatic influence, yet firmly rooted in the realities of Palestinian culture and tradition.

Rima Tarazi evidently played and loved the piano from early childhood. Her use of the piano as accompanying instrument is a distinguishing feature of her music. The quality of the singer's voice is operatic and her musical background basically is a classical one. The choral accompaniment in some of her songs is characteristic of her compositions as well. Often listeners familiar only with Western classical music who listen to these songs without knowing their provenance mistakenly identify them as arias from Western classical opera. That does not make this music less genuinely Palestinian, but adds another element to its power, as the songs resonate with every one who appreciates classical music while maintaining their unique Palestinian roots and voice. The opera 'Ahmad al Arabi' by Marcel Khalife has the same effect. Music that transcends cultural boundaries yet remains true to its own cultural heritage possesses a potency that gives it a timeless universal quality.

I bought the cassette of 'Songs of Palestine' shortly after it was produced in the 1980s. Listening to it again and again through the years, it never has failed to move me.

In 1992, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra listened to the same cassette and wrote from Baghdad: 'I have to tell you that as I listened to the songs, I could not hold back my tears and my tears only flow whenever I come face to face with wondrous beauty! ... May this creativity be a constant source of inspiration to all of us as we reunite with our people in our Palestinian towns and villages so that this creative grief may be transformed into the creative joy we are forever awaiting...'

Now, two decades later, a CD has been produced that combines the songs on that cassette with new songs. Under the title of ''Ila Mataa?' ('Until When?') this incredible music is made available to a new generation.

One of the earliest songs, 'Song of the Bird' was written for the Society of Al Inash al Usra and dedicated and performed during the International Year of the Child in 1979.

The songs for the most part eulogise actual martyrs of Palestine. From a song for Hania, a 14 year old girl shot by the Zionists to songs dedicated to famous artists, writers and political leaders assassinated through the years, the songs remind us of the sea of blood on which the Zionist entity floats. They speak eloquently of Palestinian courage, determination and hope as well, inspiring our hearts to soar with pride and hope while allowing us to weep.

From Hania:

'I'm only a child, dear mother,
Why would they shoot me, dear mother?...

Hania, Hania, Hania,
Your injuries sing praises to the free,
They are the hymns of victory...

Our little ones, our dear ones, beloved ones,
Your blood shall always light our troubled earth,
It shall bring forth our renewed birth.'

The invasion of 1967 was followed by the Zionist invasion of Lebanon... The First Intifada was followed by the Second. We have witnessed another invasion of Lebanon by the Zionists and Palestine remains under Occupation even now.

Knowing this, a song dedicated to Al Quds must find an echo in the soul of every Palestinian:

Because I was born Palestinian,
Because my roots are deeply imprinted in history,
Because I was born Arab and in Jerusalem have lived since the dawn of time,
I die every day.

Al Quds has always been ours.
In our hearts it lives and will never die.
Every alley and every home bears my name,
My dreams and memories ae engraved in its walls,
Reminding us all Al Quds is Arab, it shall never die.

Because I dream of light and right,
Because I refuse to be a false witness and suppress the truth,
Because I am steadfast, as solid as a rock,
I die every day...

Al Quds is Arab,
Al Quds will never die.'

Nor will the spirit and actions of Resistance die.

Songs like these may carry with them the sorrow of loss but at the same time they bear the scent of the oranges and thyme of Palestine and the hope of a future that will not be denied. Steadfastness and memory are the twin pillars that support the strength of the Palestinian people. The identity of Palestine cannot be destroyed by bullet or bulldozer, by force or intimidation, by foreign declarations or by false propaganda. Palestine endures.

I urge every one to experience the magnificent talents of Rima Tarazi and Tania Tamari Nasir for themselves. The CD is available from the Palestine Online Store. No doubt other sources exist as well, but a link to the Palestine Online Store can be found in the Links section of this page.

N.B. If any one wishes to send me links to other sites that advance the cause of Palestine by offering items from Palestine, please feel free to do so.

Umfalastin: Resistance through Music

1 comment:

Urit said...

You write very well.