Nourhan Sharif Presents:
"Arabic Rhythms Volume Wahid"

Reviewed by Najia El-Mouzayen
January 16, 2002

At last! Here it is a beautifully recorded CD that presents rhythms for the intuitive learner or for the dancer who already knows how to identify what constitutes basic drum- rhythms used for Arabic dancing. "What is an intuitive learner?" you ask. An intuitive learner is a dance student who needs no instruction in how to do something, but who finds it instructive to have examples of a subject to be learned, accompanied by two additional variations of the same.

The excellent points about this CD production are as follows:
" It has a pretty cover with an interesting color combination.
" As mentioned previously, it is a quality recording.
" The drummer is accomplished.
" Each rhythm is clearly identified.
" There is a neat photo of Nourhan Sharif on the back insert.
" The production staff is clearly and prominently credited on the insert.
" There is a bonus of two drum solos included that are both approximately four minutes in length.
" Nourhan has a beautiful voice and clear enunciation.

In my pragmatic judgment, I would rate this CD an almost excellent, if boring, choice for dance teachers to use in class

while the teacher instructs with her own method for recreating the rhythms on the finger cymbals or for repetitions of the string of transitions and repetitions by which many teachers build their lessons.

My reservations about its use in class would be:
The inclusion of the vocal identifications at the beginning of each change of rhythm classification, since that voice gives no information or instruction except the name of the rhythm and then it counts "One, two, one two," repeated in Arabic, "Wahid, eitneen, wahid, eitneen." The teacher who can teach the rhythms and their uses would have no need for this introduction.

On the other end of the spectrum, the student at home might use this CD for practicing the various rhythms. Those who heard the disc with me wondered why the voice was there at all since it explained nothing. Together, we looked at the insert for further edification and found that it explained when and where these rhythms usually appear. No musical notations or instruction about producing the rhythm on finger cymbals is included, however.

Contrarily, I still think that the inclusion of an aloof voice counting flatly "Wahid, eitneen, wahid, eitneen" set the tone for the entire recording that consisted of rhythms disembodied from the motivational force of complete music.

It is a characteristic of western instruction to dissect subjects to their elements rather than attacking the whole, which is so uncharacteristic of the culture from which Arabic music springs.

At the end of the CD the voice instructs us to "Stand-by for volume Two". I will anticipate that event with curiosity, if not enthusiasm.

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