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The revival of Arabic music project

شعار كتاب الأغاني الثاني

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Towards a new Arab musical revival, using ICT and social media.

 By Dr. Saad alla Agha Alkalaa

Preface:

  1. The reasons that encouraged me to start my work, since 1985, to restore the prestige of Arabic music in the hearts of Arab peoples, And to reestablish its respect in their minds are:
    1. The reality of Arab music and its audience , and The crisis that dominated musical creation, at the end of the twentieth century.
    2. Outcomes that I accumulated in Music, Informatics and Television.
  2. Works that I accomplished before the launch of the project in 2017:
    1. Building an Arabic Music Information System
    2. Presenting TV shows on Arabic Music Analysis, for the Transfer of music knowledge, to composers and interested public.
    3. Launching later a website, a FB page and a YouTube channel to republish my TV shows

Introduction to the reasons for launching the project in 2017

  • The crisis in Arab music today is worsening
  • New tools provided by ICT, especially social media

Review of completed project tracks:

Tracks of the project:

Track 1: Transfer of my music knowledge through new television shows and written studies, with embedded audiovisual files and Hypertext .

Track 2: Encourage musical creativity, using Social media.

Track 3: Analyze of the current situation of Arabic music, by scientific tools, using Social media.

Track 4: Develop a feedback-based dialogue provided by social media

Project Pros

Project Challenges

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Towards a new Arab musical revival, using ICT and social media.

By Dr. Saad alla Agha Alkalaa

The reasons of launching my works since 1985 to restore the prestige of Arabic music in the hearts of Arab peoples And to establish its respect in their minds are:

Related to fine Arabic music:

  • The absence of creativity in new productions today.
  • The lack of young Arabic audience interest, due to different reasons.
  • This would threaten Arabic music sustainability

Related to my personal Outcomes that I accumulated in Music, Informatics and TV presenting:

  • During studying Arabic music, and teaching it later, as a professor at the conservatory of Aleppo.
  • During my engineering academic studies in France, and teaching engineering and informatics later, as a professor at the Faculty of Engineering – University of Damascus.

 I used these outcomes during my long carrier in analyzing Arabic music creativity in:

  • Presentations in Arabic Music conferences.
  • Presenting hundreds of TV episodes, broadcasted since 1985, on various Arab TV stations, and published later on my website, where I used PC and databases, directly, as a tool of explanation, since 1991, on which I won the award of the best Arabic TV presenter for 1996.

My works that preceded the launch of the project over 30 years ago

My works in this field between 1985 and 2012:

  • Building of an Arabic Music Information System based on:
  • Printed bibliography database: A digital database of most of printed references about Arabic music and its history, which allows search.
  • Musical works Database: Digital storage of musical works, with all related data / audiovisual files, composer, poet, etc.., which allows simultaneous retrieval and comparisons of data.
  • The development of a comparative analytical method that reveals the sources of musical creativity created by the Arab musical revival in the 20th century, based on the Arabic music information system, and applying it online to viewers in my television programs ( 250 hours of TV shows).

Phases between 2012 and October 2017:

  • First: The launch of a website in 2012, to repost my TV shows (Hundreds of posts).
    • Publication was intensified starting from March 2017, in order to prepare the launch of the project, with 180 new posts ( one post daily ), which apply my Musical Analysis method , and integrates text, sound, image, videos and hypertexts.
    • These TV episodes and studies were included in a book called :The Second Book of Songs Encyclopedia, as a continuation of the famous Book of songs written by Al-Asfahani.
  • Second: In parallel to the launch of the site:
    • Launched a page on Facebook. (The number of current followers is around half of a million).
    • Half of the number of the followers is from the younger generation and under 35 years old.
  • Third: In parallel :Launching of a channel on YouTube.

Introduction to the reasons for launching the project in October 2017

The crisis in Arab music today is worsening:

We are threatened that this music will be absent in our Arab world, in the near future, because of the following reasons:

  1. The Public :

Who is this music audience today?

A generation that lived through the Renaissance period in the 20th century, and the ideas of Arab nationalist. This generation will be gone soon.

The younger generation, which is mostly divided among three dominant ideologies:

  • First: the influence of the West, which carries the scientific and economic development on one hand, but which carries in return the famous melodies of variety , dominated by rhythm, and far from the conscience of the peoples of the region!
  • Second: the influence of ideas rejecting others in two directions:
    • A trend that rejects art, generally and especially Music ( extremists).
    • A trend that adopts local arts, maybe in each village!

These three influences threaten fine Arabic music

If the situation remains the same, there will be no audience for this fine Arabic music in one generation!

New melodies, with weak creative elements, fall within the context of these influences, creating a vicious circle ,which goes bigger with time:

  • Young audience controls the market.
  • The market directs young audience to be integrated into these trends and influences!

In addition to poor public interest and weak creativity in new compositions, there are:

  • An unjustified focus of satellite channels on the discovery of good voices only, and they neglect the search for the most important elements to encourage creativity: Composers!
  • A large amount of compositions produced by earlier periods, exists on the Internet, but the separation between text and audio-visual documents, in traditional platforms, causes distorted and false information about these works.
  • The widespread use of false information on the Internet, confirms it in the minds of young generations , while, again, new works, which reflect the three influences, dominate the young generation.

On the other hand, there are positive possibilities offered by ICT and Social media in:

  • Explaining creativity of Arabic Music, in a modern way, accessible to young generations.
  • Providing Immediate interaction with creators and auditors, wherever they are located.

This is confirmed by the fact that my page on Facebook has around of half of a million followers, half of whom are young. This means that a segment of the public is still seeking a deeper understanding of the elements of Arab music creativity, and that the young generation is not far from it.

Project tracks Review:

This project is published on my Internet platforms, that I manage and administrate: a website, FB page, 2 FB groups, 1 YouTube Chanel.

It is based on 4 tracks that aim to:

First track:  Transfer my knowledge in Fine Arabic musical analysis, to reveal its sources of creativity, in a direct contact this time, with creators and the public, over my Internet platforms. In this track, I gather : written studies (Hundreds so far), incorporating texts, with hypertexts, audio and video files, which help better understanding of musical analysis, that I published on my website, since March 2017, with videos (19 so far), in which I focus on musical analysis.

 In this first track I launched firstly new TV episodes entitled: Towards a New Arab Music Renaissance

Secondly: I continued the publication of written studies that adopt texts and the integration of audiovisual files and hypertext in the context of the text:

These TV episodes, and studies, aim to convey knowledge through:

Revealing:

  • creativity in Arabic music
  • the objective and historical conditions that instigated that creativity.
  • Trying to explore the possibility of generating similar conditions
  • using ICT and social media.

These TV episodes and studies go to:

  • Composers, musicians, singers and poets.
  • The audience who is trying to look for a deeper understanding.

The second track: Stimulates creativity in Fine Arabic Music, based on my explanations in the first track, and on my earlier works. The following actions are already done:

  • Creating a virtual creative center (a FB group, approaching 5000 members, gathering creators and experienced listeners), that provides virtual conditions, similar to centers that have instigated the Arab musical revival, during earlier times, such as Cairo, Beirut,…
  • Encouraging creativity, interaction and competition among group members, by launching a competition, based on clear conditions, for new songs. 31 composers participated, and some of the melodies were based on poems written by poets, members of the group.
  • Forming a multidisciplinary jury (18 members) and conducting a simultaneous arbitration process, through a secret FB group.
  • Publishing the results of the arbitration (18 songs did not succeed). the winning songs will be submitted to vote on my FB page soon.

Arbitration process is done through a secret FB group.

Third track: Analyze the actual situation of Fine Arabic music, by Adopting scientific methods, such as SWAT Analysis and opinion surveys, through my Internet platforms, aiming to:

  • Identify Fine Arabic music strengths and weaknesses, its opportunities and threats.
  • seeking the opinion of the public, on:
    • The role of Arabic music in the society.
    • The actual situation of creative elements (productions provided by creators,..).
    • The actual situation of elements that support creativity (Education, producers, TVs, NGOs, Family..).
    • proposed solutions.

12 polls have been posted so far.

Fourth track: Provide my answers , in a video form, to important questions, asked by more than 450.000 followers, of my FB page, from all around the world, 50% of them are less than 35 years old.

In this track, social media are used to discuss the project and to answer questions, queries and objections.

TV shows are being held to answer the questions posed, with the launch of opinion polls, on the content of the answers

An example of comments and questions received so far :

Is it possible to establish a new Arab musical revival without a comprehensive renaissance of the Arabic world?

This answer was given in a video form. Hare are the basic elements of the answer:

  • There is no doubt that achieving a comprehensive Arab renaissance is the ideal goal.
  • Creativity in music is more profound when societies are dominated by hope for a better tomorrow.
  • But music is by nature different from other areas of human activity.
  • And the reality of Arab music today does not allow us to wait for that hoped comprehensive revival.
  • There are Significant differences between music and other areas of human activity.
  • Let us assume that we were able to launch a comprehensive renaissance in the Arab world one generation later.
  • This renaissance can be scientifically, economically, socially, or politically driven by the models of the developed world. Any society can, for example, start scientifically, at any time, based on what the world has reached. Science is one in the world.
  • This is true for all other areas But this reality does not apply to music because every people has its own music.
  • If this music is absent from the conscience of its people, after one generation, you will not be able to regain it again.

Next step:

Adding a track where a TV station:

  1. Publishes the works that succeed in the competition.
  2. Hosts a new competition on new musical works performed in the FB Group.

Try to establish  a Creativity Supporting Association.

Project Pros:

  • The use of ICT and Social media gives the Arabic young generation a positive image of Fine Arabic Music.
  • The scientific and methodological documentation of Arab music production contributes to its preservation and its provision in a contemporary and understandable form.
  • The project contributes to:
    • Instigating of creativity in Arabic Music.
    • Putting the creators in the spotlight.
    • Encouraging the participation of the public in all phases.
    • Finding solutions to overcome the reality of Arabic music, in crises today.

Challenges

  • Facebook does not notify all followers of new posts.
  • No links between posts dealing with the same subject.
  • The Internet audience tends with time to follow short articles and videos, eliminating the impact of important details in objective and historical analysis.
  • The vast amount of information available online without any scrutiny, which looks like a viable alternative.
  • The costs of building a digital content platform, the content itself, project protection, and the implementation of its tracks are high, and requires daily efforts, especially to follow up and respond to comments.
  • Stimulating creativity needs substantial funding.

Thank you for your time!

This is a TV Lecture in English, on the revival of Arabic music project using ICT and Social Media, By Saad alla Agha Alkalaa.

Go to Arabic Language

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