Ahlan wa Sahlan! Welcome to Brooklyn Maqam Arab Music Festival, featuring local musicians, bands, and dancers presenting Arab music traditions from Egypt, Yemen, Israel, Tunisia, Palestine, Iraq, Morocco, Syria, and Lebanon. Maqam is the Arabic word referring to the patterns of musical notes, based on a quarter note system, which form the building blocks of traditional Arab music. Join BAC Folk Arts throughout March 2008 for Brooklyn Maqam concerts, symposia, and workshops at venues big and small in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Brooklyn Maqam features local musicians and highlights folk traditions, classical forms, popular contemporary arrangements, and fusion pieces that integrate old and new styles. Many of the concerts are arranged thematically: ceremonial and religious music, women's traditions, and solo improvisations. A special all-Arab Folk Feet dance showcase will sample dance genres such as debkah, barara, and the regionally variant wedding processional called zeffa.
Brooklyn Maqam musicians are versed in a range of Arab forms and styles including Yemen Red Coast lahji; Moroccan gnawa; Middle-Eastern-American 'Mediterranean' hybrids, Lebanese djbeli, and Syrian-Jewish pizmonim, to name just a few. Arab-world singing is stunning in its range and beauty and includes hundreds of genres, from muwashsha to maqam al-iraqi. Arab song is characterized by specific musical elements such as dulab (a short composition that introduces a song and its maqam) and mawwal (a vocal improvisation demonstrating the singer's skill). Instrumentation features strings, including the oud, the long-neck buzuq, and the zither-like qanun and santur; drums, including the goblet-shaped dumbek and the frame-drum called dof; the tambourine called riq; and the ney, a single-reed flute. The social context of Arab music is integral to how it is performed; audiences are highly responsive and participatory.