Current Date:

Friday, 16 November 2018

Music of Sudan

(Habib Hassan Touma) Sudan has a rich and unique musical culture that has been through chronic instability and repression during the modern history of Sudan.
Beginning with the imposition of strict sharia in 1989, many of the country's most prominent musicians and poets, like poet Mahjoub Sharif, were imprisoned while others, like Mohammed el Amin and Mohammed Wardi, fled to Cairo (Mohammed el amin returned to Sudan in 1991 and Mohammed Wardi returned to Sudan in 2003). Traditional music suffered too, with traditional Zar ceremonies being interrupted and drums confiscated.[1] At the same time, however, the European militaries contributed to the development of Sudanese music by introducing new instruments and styles; military bands, especially the Scottish bagpipes, were renowned, and set traditional music to military march music. The march March Shulkawi No 1, is an example, set to the sounds of the Shilluk. Sudan is very diverse, with five hundred plus ethnic groups spread across the country's territory, which is the third largest country in Africa. The country has been a crossroads between North, East and West Africa for hundreds of years, and is inhabited by a 579 ethnic groups predominantly Arabs and African Muslims.

Northern Sudanese lyrical music

Northern Sudan has a tradition of lyrical music that utilizes oblique metaphors, and has historically been used as part of the Sudanese independence movement and in other political movements. The tambour, or tanb?ra, (a lyre) was originally used as accompaniment, but this was replaced by the oud when it was imported from Arabia. The method of playing the oud continues to use a plucking method developed with the tambour, making a distinctive and characteristic sound. Especially well-known is the late Nubian composer, oud player, tar player, and vocalist Hamza El Din.
In the 1930s, a number of music companies opened in Sudan, among them the Gordon Memorial College Musical company, which included Mohamed Adam Adham, whose Adhamiya was one of the earliest formal Sudanese compositions, and is still often played.
The early pioneers were mostly singer-songwriters, including the prolific Karoma, author of several hundred songs, the innovative Ibrahim al-Abadi and Khalil Farah, who was active in the Sudanese independence movement.[1] Al-Abadi was known for an unorthodox style of fusing tradition wedding poetry with music. Other songwriters of the era included Mohammed Ahmed Sarror, Al-Amin Burhan, Mohamed Wad Al Faki and Abdallah Abdel Karim. al Faki was one of many musicians from the area around Kabou-shiya, a region known for folk music.
Popular music
Northern Sudanese popular music evolved into what is generally referred to as "post-Haqibah", a style dominating in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. This period was marked by the introduction of tonal instruments from both East and West, such as the violin, accordion, oud, tabla and bongo. A big band style came into existence, mirroring trends in the West. Post-haqibah, like haqibah, was based on the pentatonic scale. Haqibah mixed with Egyptian and European elements is called al-afghani' al-hadith.
The 1940s saw an influx of new names because of the rise of Omdurman Radio and World War II. Early performers included Ismail Abdul Mennen, Hassan Atya, Ibrahim Al Kashif and Ahmed al Mustafa. One of the most famous pioneers of this era was Ismael Abdul Queen, who was followed by Ahmed Ibrahim Falah and Ibrahim Alkashif (father of modern singing).
In this respect Ismael Abdul Queen was a pioneer who strived to adapt to the new conditions and desert the old style. He was followed by a poet-singer called Ahmed Ibrahim Falah. But both were soon overtaken by Ibrahim Alkashif who became known as the "Father of modern singing". Al Kashif began to sing under the influence of Haj Mohamed Ahmed Sarour and relied on what Karouma had started, but he renewed singing in three main facets:
The 1960s saw the importation of American pop stars, which had a profound effect on Sudanese musicians like Osman Alamu and Ibrahim Awad, the latter becoming the first Sudanese musician to dance onstage.[1] From the 1970s to the present, Northern Sudanese music saw a further Westernisation, with the introduction of guitars and brass instruments; guitars came from the south of the country, from the Congolese guitar styles. Congolese music like soukous, as well as Cuban rumba, exerted a profound influence on Sudanese popular music.
An important shift in modern Sudanese music was introduced by the group Sharhabil and His Band - formed by a group of friends from Omdurman - namely Sharhabil Ahmed, Ali Nur Elgalil Farghali, Kamal Hussain, Mahaddi Ali, Hassan Sirougy and Ahmed Dawood. They introduced modern rhythms relating to popular and soul music using for the first time electric guitars, double bass, and brass instruments, with the emphasis on rhythm section. The lyrics were also informal and popular. Now Sharhabil's band is one of the leading establishments in Sudanese music
For the first time in the 1960s, female singers became socially acceptable with the rise of Mihera bint Abboud, Um el Hassan el Shaygiya and Aisha el Fellatiya, who became famous for performing in front of the Sudan Defence Force during World War II. In the 1960s, a wave of female duos became prominent, including Sunai el Samar, Sunai Kordofani and Sunai el Nagam, while a few women with highly charged erotic images found audiences, including Gisma and Nasraa. Later prominent female musicians include the band Al Balabil, who formed in the early 1970s and became very popular across East Africa and are still popular until today. The 1980s also saw the rise of Hanan Bulu-bulu, a singer whose performances were sensual and provocative; she was eventually detained by the authorities and beaten.
Introduced genres have had a profound effect on modern Sudanese music, especially British brass military bands, which attracted many young recruits who carried the model to recreational music. The result was a kind of dance music referred to as jazz, though unrelated to the American style of jazz, similar to analogous styles throughout East Africa. Prominent big bandleaders in the modern era include Abdel Gadir Salim and Abdel Aziz El Mubarak, both of whom have achieved some international fame.
The imposition of sharia law in 1989 came along with the imprisonment of Mahjoub Sharif, a poet and songwriter who continued writing even in prison. The singer Abu Araki al-Bakheit was banned from performing political songs in the early 1990s, but he claimed to prefer remaining silent than not performing the objectionable material; the news of his retirement, prompted intense reactions from his fans, which eventually led him to continue performing in defiance of authorities. The Southern Sudanese celebrated singer Yousif Fataki had all his tapes erased by Radio Umdurman - the official government media. Southern Sudanese popular music was important in the 1970s and 1980s, with the capital Juba hosting nightclub bands like Rejaf Jazz and the Skylarks.
Other popular imported musicians included reggae superstar Bob Marley and American pop singer Michael Jackson, while the funk of James Brown inspired Sudanese performers like Kamal Kayla, to adopt the same style. Other modern popular performers include Abdel Karim el Kabli, with a notably long and diverse history of performance, Mohammed al Amin and Mohammed Wardi.

Hip hop[edit]

The hip hop community in Sudan is attempting to utilize its unifying power and global popularity as a universal language to bring unity to the country. Artists, such as the extremely popular Bangs of YouTube fame, see the genre as a way to emancipate themselves from the surrounding culture. Hip hop represents an avenue for peace, tolerance, and literacy for millions of African youth, who are powerful in numbers, but politically neglected, as witnessed with the exploitation of child soldiers. The lyrics have the unique ability to reach child soldiers as an educational tool to imagine a different lifestyle. Sudanese hip hop preaches that through education and peace, there is an opportunity to achieve a better life. The genre combines traditional music with the music of the younger generation, hip hop. It empowers them with the power of a voice in society without being forced to use guns or violence. The genre serves not only as a tool that “makes audiences move, but that moves audiences –toward education, civil action, and peaceful change.” It empowers them with the power of a voice in society without being forced to use guns or violence. According to Jimmie Briggs, author of Innocence Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War, “A music group is not an army, but it can get powerful social messages out before trouble starts.”[