Thursday, August 04, 2011

El Tanbura Live, "Old Port Said"

One of the most fabulous things I did while in Cairo in late March was go to see the group El Tanbura perform on March 24, at El Tanbura Hall in Abdeen. El Tanbura perform Egyptian "folk" music from the city of Port Said. Port Said's music is famous for being driven by an instrument known as the simsimiyya, the lyre. (I've posted on El Tanbura previously here.) El Tanbura was actively involved in the protests at Tahrir from January 25-February 11 (see this video), as were other groups affiliated with the El Mastaba Center for Egyptian Folk Music, established by Zakaria Ahmed, who performs with El Tanbura.

I was told that a song or two of El Tanbura's revolutionary repertoire were quite popular among the crowd at Tahrir. This is one of them. I've been unable to identify an Arabic title for the song. In English it's "Old Port Said." It's a nationalist song, about the Suez Crisis of 1956, when Egypt's president Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, and was attacked by Israel, France and Great Britain. CNN recently published a report on Egypt's revolutionary music on the occasion of the performance of Egyptian musicians (including El Tanbura and Ramy Essam) at the Barbican in London. It discusses El Tanbura and has a link to a recording of "Old Port Said." You can also read more about El Tanbura here.

(I filmed El Tanbura with Zakaria Ahmed's permission. Zakaria is the one who introduces the song.)

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