Tuesday, 22 May 2012


Qiyans Krets is a group of four women, one Norwegian, one Scottish and two Swedish, who perform music from the Sephardic, Arabic and Occidental traditions. 'Qiyan' were highly educated slave ladies who performed music and recited poetry at Muslim courts. Here they give us a lovely performance of Lamma Bada Yatathanna, a very popular muwashah, a type of strophic song that originated in Al Andalus. The lyrics of muwashahat deal with unrequited love, or with the effects of wine as a metaphor for religious intoxication. The lyrics of the present song are translated thus:

She walked with a swaying gait,
Her beauty amazed me
Her eyes have taken me prisoner
Her stem folded as she bent over
Oh, my promise, oh, my perplexity
Who can answer my lament of love and distress
But the graceful one, the queen of beauty?

Don't know about you, but after the beauty of the melody and the rhythm, I find the words something of a let down, but maybe I'm just being a gay chauvinist pig. I'd rather have something by Abu Nawas, except he was in Baghdad, not Al Andalus, and maybe never heard of muwashahat.

I die of love for him, perfect in every way,
Lost in the strains of wafting music.
My eyes are fixed upon his delightful body
And I do not wonder at his beauty.
His waist is a sapling, his face a moon,
And loveliness rolls off his rosy cheek
I die of love for you, but keep this secret:
The tie that binds us is an unbreakable rope.
How much time did your creation take, O angel?
So what! All I want is to sing your praises.

Bit more like it. I like Abu Nawas most, though, when he's taunting the Imams for the charmless authoritarianism and grim conformity of their religion:

Always I have and will
Scatter god and gold to the four winds.
When we meet, I delight in what the Book forbids.
And flee what is allowed.


I bought abandon dear
And sold all piety for pleasure.
My own free spirit I have followed,
And never will I give up lust.

That's them told. Somebody set that to music.


Candy said...

Once again you have posted something so beautiful it doesn't bear analysis. I agree re: Abu Nawas - much more passion - and a sort of awkward grace.

Vilges Suola said...

Glad you like it!


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