Arab Musicians in Israel and the West Bank

Benjamin Brinner

in Playing across a Divide

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780195395945
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199852666 | DOI:
Arab Musicians in Israel and the West Bank

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Music flourishes as an essential element of celebration, but quality languishes under the tyranny of the lowest common denominator. Jamal Sa'id, a popular Palestinian drummer, summed up his experience playing for weddings and other celebrations in the West Bank and Israel when we spoke in Jerusalem in the early 1990s. Most have withdrawn completely from this mainstream; those who continue to participate do so for the sizable income or to fulfill social obligations. But this mainstream is not the only show in town. Frustrated musicians seek out or create other opportunities. Presentation of Arab art music in a prestigious setting in West Jerusalem boosted their standing as musicians and offered them a small measure of recognition in Israeli society. Cassettes and compact discs serve different purposes for consumers and musicians. Consumers buy them in order to hear their favorites or to satisfy their curiosity about new singers.

Keywords: Jamal Sa'id; mainstream; Arab art; West Jerusalem; cassettes; compact discs

Chapter.  13847 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ethnomusicology

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