Sunday, August 13, 2006

Why do you cry, fair maiden?

My new CD came a few days ago. It is called "Music in the Land of Three Faiths", by the band The Ivory Consort. I have much to learn about the details of this music, but so far I have enjoyed it immensely. The CD is a sampler of Christian, Muslim and Jewish music from the 10th to the 13th centuries, the time known as conviviencia, a time of harmonious living together of the three faiths.

It is striking to hear how much the songs have in common with each other. And of course, the Spanish Phrygian scale is pervasive throughout the music. If you are a Klezmer fan, you will recognize the Spanish Phrygian, also known as the Ahava Rabbah scale. It is classic Klezmer. How weird is it to hear it in Medieval Portuguese romances or Arabic love songs?

I am considering contacting the band because I am very curious about many of the details of the CD. For example, one of the songs is a combination of what seems to be a love song in Arabic and the Hebrew prayer "El Adon" which is typically sung in the Sabbath morning service. Another song is what appears to be a Jewish song sung in Ladino, "Porque Llorax Blanca Nina", or "Why do you cry, fair maiden?". It is supposed to be a song of farewell between lovers, but why are the characters in it a knight and a maiden? So much to learn, so little time.

Buenas noches, mis amigos.


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