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The music of the Arab world is diverse; and includes several types of genres ranging from the classical tradition to the pop culture and from the sacred to the secular. While Arab music is an independent style of music with a distinct sound, it has a long history of interaction with different styles and genres of music from different cultures in the surrounding region. Among those interactions would be the translation of Greek texts and works of music which have had an influence on Arab music; as well as regional influences from the Byzantine Empire and North Africa. The history of Arab music can be traced back to the 5th century pre-Islamic era, or otherwise known as Jahiliyah; where music was traditionally performed by the Qiyan, a class of women who were considered both servants and trained musicians.
According to Hasan Habib Touma’s book, The Music of the Arabs, there are five components in Arab music which he explains in this way:
A tone system with specific interval structures
Rhythmic-temporal structures that produce a rich variety of rhythmic patterns, used to accompany the metered vocal and instrumental genres and give them form.
Musical instruments that are found throughout the Arabian world and that represent a standardized tone system, are played with standardized performance techniques, and exhibit similar details in construction and design.
Specific social contexts for the making of music, whereby musical genres can be classified as urban (music of the city inhabitants), or Bedouin (music of the desert inhabitants). By way of example, consider the Bedouin, by virtue of mass media, can listen to any kind of music in his desert tent but who would never make music himself outside of a specific context.
A musical mentality that is responsible for the aesthetic homogeneity of the tonal-spatial and rhythmic-temporal structures in Arabian music, whether composed or improvised, instrumental or vocal, secular or scared.
al niente: to nothing; fade to silence.
calando: becoming smaller
calmando: become calm
crescendo: becoming stronger
dal niente: from nothing; out of silence
decrescendo or diminuendo: becoming softer
fortepiano: loud and accented and then immediately soft
fortissimo piano: very loud and then immediately soft
in rilievo: in relief (French en dehors: outwards); indicates that a particular instrument or part is to play louder than
the others so as to stand out over the ensemble.
perdendo or perdendosi: losing volume, fading into nothing, dying away
mezzoforte piano: moderately strong and then immediately soft
morendo: dying away (may also indicate a tempo change)
marcato: stressed, pronounced
pianoforte: soft and then immediately strong
sforzando piano: with marked and sudden emphasis, then immediately soft
sotto voce: in an undertone (whispered or unvoiced)
smorzando: dying away