(MENAFN - Arab Times) Algerian Malouf music has been attached to Constantine, capital of Eastern Algeria, making it the city of classical Arab-Andalusian music, although this art, which has been flourishing for six centuries in the Mediterranean, is struggling to survive among other types of music. Malouf music came to Constantine, also known as the City of Bridges, 600 years ago and witnessed battles waged by the Ottomans to conquer the city.
Visitors walking by shops and alleys will hear the Malouf music, while locals of Constantine memorizing the lyrics of songs. Darsouni Abdulqader, member of the teaching staff of the Adnalusian school of arts in Constantine, said the word Malouf meant the music that came from Andalusia and became very famous in the Algerian city, 490 kilometers east of the capital, Algiers. Speaking to KUNA, Abdulqader said Malouf was divided into two categories: one with lyrics about love, nature and love of life while the other has religious flavor related to Sufism, which is a mystical Islamic belief and practice.
The Andalusian school of arts has many Malouf elite musicians, locally known as Shuyoukh, or Sheikhs, who have been keen on preserving the Andalusian art and teach it to young generations through professional schools. Abdulqader named few of the Shuyoukh: Mohammad Al-Taher Forqani, Hamdi Banani and Qaddor Darsouni. Many of the students of the Shuyoukh, he said, preserved the genuine Malouf music but introduced modern light instruments which maintained the clarity of lyrics and rhythm.
Abdulhakeem Buaziz, an Andalusian music professor, said "the Andalusian music in Algeria is six centuries old and has been in Algeria since the Turks entered the country, and the Malouf music flourished with the establishment of the Ottoman state." Buaziz said Andalusian music in Algeria was diversified into: the San'aa in Algiers and nearby cities, popular "Shaabi" from qortuba and the Hawzii from Granada.
Malour, noted Buaziz, combined genuine Maghreb and Arab tones which could reach 24 notes in some songs. He said he tried to develop the Malouf and introduced some modern instruments but maintaining the original tones. Saleem Forqani, a Malouf musician, said the traditional music has many branches and there were local societies teaching it. Songs are accompanied with special dancing gestures like Masdar, Daraj and Batayhi.
Elias ben Mheidi, an Oud instrument player, told KUNA the Malouf band consisted of up to 30 members. Major instruments are Oud, Drums and flute and Qanun. Constantine is the 2015 Arab Culture Capital and Malouf music played a key role in musical activities. Malouf is also played in weddings and graduation ceremonies, where men and women wear traditional Algerian clothes.