TARÁB ANDALUSÍ » Music of Al-Ándalus – About the program

Origins of andalusian school of arabic music

Inside the main Cordoba's mosqueIn 711-720 the berber tribes of North Africa, recently converted to Islam, subdued almost all of Iberia (Spain and Portugal), except for its extreme north (Asturias), and by the middle of the VIII century a large part of the peninsula forms a new and powerful muslim state – Al-Ándalus. This coincided with the movement of the center of the world of Islam from the syrian Damascus to iraqian Baghdad, competion with which for several centuries ahead determined the development of Al-Ándalus.

VIII-IX centuries were the Golden Age of Islam. The muslim world covered a huge area, from Morocco in the west to the east of Persia. Arabic became the mandatory for muslims, was taught at mosques and became the primary means of communication between different countries. It promotes the exchange of knowledge, the movement of people and, as a consequence, social, scientific and cultural progress of Islamic countries. Wealth of Baghdad and other annexed islamic lands, as well as expanding ties with other countries, contributed to that the court of the Caliph of Baghdad became the center of civilization. After the schools at mosques, caliphs founded the Houses of Wisdom – the libraries, strongly encouraging the translation of books into Arabic and widespread dissemination of knowledge and science. For several centuries, the rulers of Al-Andalus – outcomers from Syria – were thriving to make their country as powerful and developed as it was Baghdad. And it was not surprising, as the territory of Iberia was quite similar to Middle East area in climate, but it was much richer in natural resources, especially water, needed for farming.

With the advent of Islam in Al-Ándalus begins a new round of social development (after ancient Rome). Muslims brought to Iberia ancient and modern science and technology from around the world, highly developed culture and customs by the example of Baghdad. That has transformed the world of Al-Andalus and impacted almost all spheres of life of the indigenous peoples of Iberia. An important factor in this was a high religious tolerance of the new rulers to the representatives of other religions (i.e. christians and jews) during the first few centuries of the country history. With this in the territory of Al-Andalus it was formed a unique culture, a fusion of East and West, which strongly influenced the culture of Spain and Portugal being traced in them even nowadays.

Ziryab and his schoolFrom the middle of VIII century the political and cultural center of Al-Andalus was Córdoba, which hosted the emir’s court and the main mosque of the country – the third largest one in the whole islamic world (after Mecca and Medina). Simultaneously, following the example of Cordoba and Baghdad the musicians from various islamic countries appeared in the courts of the andalusian nobility, who bring to the country a variety of musical instruments and music from all over the Middle East. Further development of the music in Al-Ándalus is associated with the name of Ziryab from Baghdad – the outstanding musician of IX century, with the advent of which the court of the emir of Cordoba was fully culturally revolutionized. Ziryab served as a “minister of culture” of the emir, and due to this fact the style of his life, the habits and the manners were widely copied by society down to the lower classes. In particular, this concerns the area of ​​food, mainly the order of serving the table, appliances and tableware, dishes and new products, recipes, clothing, hairstyles, personal care, cosmetics (Ziryab even founded Europe’s first beauty salons), and entertainment (he brought Indian chess). Ziryab attracted many scientists and philosophers to the service of the emir, and he himself was a philosopher and astronomer.

Ziryab was an extraordinarily talented musician, and according to the legend, he was forced to leave Baghdad after a brilliant performance to the Caliph himself because of jealousy of his teacher for his talent. His nickname “Ziryab” means in Arabic “black bird” (a thrush) because of the dark color of his skin and special low timbre of his voice. Ziryab developed vocal training methods which are still used today. He knew more than 10,000 songs by heart, which he performed accompanying himself on the ud. He was an excellent udist. He added a 5th string to the ud and invented an elongated plectrum from the eagle feather to play on it (instead of a short piece of wood). He was a master of Tarab and believed that his performance was inspired by jinns. In Cordoba Ziryab founded a music school, the first in Europe (after Pythagoras), where the representatives of different society classes (including concubines) could learn. That way he promoted the appearance of the gifted musicians at the court and laid a strong musical tradition for many centuries to come. The emergence of these schools contributed to the development of instrumental music and the music art, including performance in ensembles consisting of a large number of musicians, as well as development of musical knowledge (music theory) based on the andalusian nuba.

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1. Andalusian nuba

Moorish girls play musicThe word “nuba” – from the Arabic word “a queue” – meant a turn in which the musicians came out from the curtain to perform for the emir. The art of andalusian nuba reached its peak in the beginning of XII century, together with a wide development of instrumental, vocal, poetry and singing art, and even had a strong impact on the music of the Middle East. At this point nuba represented the composition of one-hour duration each. Each nuba (following the spirit of ancient Indian and Persian musical traditions) had their own mode (sequence of notes in the melody – i.e. 24 different modes in total), each of which was performed only at a certain time of the day. Music, singing and poetry were very popular art forms. According to the memoirs of the traveler Al-Yamani, who visited Málaga in 1015, at night around the city he could not find a quiet place: the music was heard everywhere. Today the art of andalusian nuba continues to exist in countries that have accepted migrants from Al-Andalus fleeing from Reconquista – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, where it is now a classical music of these countries.

Nuba usually begins with an instrumental improvisation (“taxim”), followed by a musical development in multiple rhythms (“tuvishya”), a singer’s solo in free improvised manner (“muwwál”), and then a sequence of songs (“saná”) – the structure now being the standard of music in the Middle East (and also sometimes in Spain – e.g. in flamenco music).

Along with the music, in Al-Andalus in VIII-IX century the art of creating poems and songs came from the Middle East, including the culture of “romanticism” (poems about unrequited love). To compile the poetry was a usual activity of the nobility, musicians, scientists and philosophers. And playing music and singing love songs – the usual occupation for women. Al-Andalus has refined the art of transcribing the poetry to the rhythm so that they could be easierly sung, and developed the song structure rules, which became the basis for all future songs culture in Spain and even Europe. The songs in classical Arabic, set to music, were “muwashshah” (from the word “girdled”), and in colloquial Arabic (usually with the chorus) – “zadzhal”. By XII century the musical art of Al-Andalus was so prized that many musicians of the Middle East came to Al-Andalus to learn music and songs composition.


The heart of moorish castle Alhambra (Granada)Oh, you, who reprimand me by God
Let me increase that love
If I repent to God
to whom shall I leave my love?

Oh, you who know the nightingales of longing
This love is pure
and lovers strive for it
I have savoured my wine with all its presence
I do not forget love
May he who critics suffer for it
If I repent to God to whom shall I leave my love?

You grow in charm and I grow in love
I love and I aspire
to this sweetness
In your love I die
May he who criticizes suffer for it
I suffer and grow sad
Ever weaker and ailing

Tell me what to do
Oh, star of the night?!

Abu Al-Hassam Al-Shushtari,
a poet, a sufi (Granada, beginning of XIII century)

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2. Songs of mozarabs

Detail of early Christian Mozarabic liturgy in iberian LatinThe peoples who came to Al-Andalus from other countries represented quite small part of population, and the immigrants from Arabia – even the minority. The majority of muslim immigrants were white africans – the “berbers”, and at later time – the black “moors” from Mauritania. The main part of the indigenous population were the root iberians. Religious tolerance of Al-Andalus has posed that before the middle of X century at least half of the population were still Christians, and another significant part of it – the spanish jews (“sephards”), who lived in Iberia since Roman times. Christians and jews were called “mozarabs”, from arabic “must-Arab” (“under the Arabs”). They were required to pay additional taxes and adhere to certain rules (for example, do not enter the mosques), but in general quite rarely experienced persecution. By X century the conversion to Islam became more common due to economic and social benefits being open to the newly-converted. All this time the assimilation and “cross-polination” of the cultures in all parts of society took place. Mozarabs were forced to master the Arabic language, and the muslims took over pronunciation specifics of christian Latin. The bilingual coins were produced, there were churches where three religions coexisted (with three entrances from different sides), the marriages between people of different religions were quite frequent.

Mozarabic painting with arab-moorish elements (shapes of windows, pitchers, walls dacoration: drawings and colors)All this contributed to the deep interpenetration and assimilation of ibero-christian and muslim cultures, including music, songs and poetry. It is known that the early christian (mozarabic) liturgical chants enriched the modes of andalusian music, and the singing and instrumental music art of the muslims spread among the christians. Through the poetry of Al-Andalus times we know today mozarabic dialect of Latin – “Ladino” (“Latsino” with arabic accent). In particular, in IX-XII centuries there was a tradition when arabic muvashshahs ended in Latin in the last verse (in Arabic called “Khardzha”), often recorded by Arabic or Hebrew letters. Using those ancient alphabets allows to restore the exact pronunciation of the medieval Mozarabic dialect. At the same time, in Mozarabic language we note a large number of Arabic words, changed pronunciation of words, new words and sequences of words, which are characteristic for the Arabic language.

Mozarabic khardzha

Baise meu coraýon de mib
Ya Rab, si se me tornarad
Tan mal me doled lil-habib
Enfermo yed cuand sanarad
  My heart’s gone from me.
Dear Lord, will it perhaps return to me?
My yearning for the beloved is so great!
It is ill, when will it recover?..

Yehuda Levi, a sefard, a philosopher, a poet
(Toledo, beginning of XII century)

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3. Troubadours of Occitania

By the end of XI century in southern France (Occitania, or Aquitaine) “troubadours” appeared, who were the noble knights singing about (more often unrequited) love to women to own accompaniment on a musical instrument. Due to catolic church influence troubadours were considered a famous French phenomenon, however, there is another version of their appearance.

Troubadours (XIV century)The first troubadour is considered to have been Guillem IX, the Duke of Occitania (1071-1126) from Poitiers. Yet his father Guillaume VIII participated in the Reconquista crusades against Al-Andalus, and they both reconquered many of the muslim lands from Aragon to Toledo. Guillem VIII was said to have “brought from Spain the song with the singers and violas” – muslim prisoners-musicians. And that was not the only reason. In XI century the music in Al-Andalus was already a mass phenomenon, where all the noble courts were the centers of musical and poetic culture. Extensive political and trade links encouraged the christian courts to imitate the customs of the muslim nobility, including music and poetry, and even the religious tolerance. Al-Andalus was famous for its musical instruments and supplied them to other European countries, as evidenced by their names found in other languages ​​(“lute” – from “el-aud”, “guitar” – from “kitar”, “rebec” – from “rebab”, “gaita” from the “raita”, “theorbo” from “tarab” – another name for the “ud”). Music schools of Al-Andalus attracted musicians from other countries, and in thta way musical knowledge spread across Europe through them and their students. Some courts of Al-Andalus competed with each other who had best musicians. That contributed to the emergence of “wandering” musicians, who might be often invited to perform by christian courts. The capture of Toledo (1085) and less tolerant andalusian rulers Almoravids, who came to power, resulted that many mozarabs (in Toledo and other northern spanish lands) moved under christian rule or were forced to leave Al-Andalus because of persecutions by muslims. However, the tolerance culture, science and technology of Al-Andalus, including music, poetry, literature came to the growing christian world together with the new mozarabic population. There is an opinion that even the word “troubadour” (trovadore) derived not from the Latin “tropare” (“to compose”), but from the Arabic “tarab” (which had one more meaning “to sing”).

Song of a trobairitz (a woman-troubadour)

I must sing of what I do not want,
I am so angry with the one whom I love,
Because I love him more than anything:
Mercy nor courtesy moves him,
Neither does my beauty, nor my worthiness, nor my good sense,
For I am deceived and betrayed
As much as I should be, if I were ugly.

I wonder at how you have become so proud,
Friend, towards me, and I have reason to lament;
It is not right that another love take you away from me
No matter what is said or granted to you
And remember how it was at the beginning
Of our love! May Lord God never wish
That it was my fault for our separation.

My worth and my nobility should help me,
My beauty and my fine heart;
Therefore, I send this song down to you
So that it would be my messenger.
I want to know, my fair and noble friend,
Why you are so cruel and savage to me;
I don’t know if it is arrogance or ill will.

But I especially want you, messenger, to tell him
That many people suffer for having too much pride.

Beatriz de Dia, a trobairitz

Beatriz de Dia, a countess, a trobairitz
(Dia, Occitania (southern France))

Original text (medieval occitan)

A chantar m’er de so qu’eu no volria,
tant me rancur de lui cui sui amia,
car eu l’am mais que nuilla ren que sia:
vas lui no.m val merces ni cortezia
ni ma beltatz ni mos pretz ni mos sens,
c’atressi.m sui enganad’ e trahia
Com degr’ esser, s’eu fos dezavinens.

Meraveill me com vostre cors s’orgoilla,
amics, vas me, per qui’ai razon queu.m doilla;
non es ges dreitz c’autr’ amors vos mi toilla,
per nuilla ren que.us diga ni acoilla.
E membre vos cals fo.l comensamens
de nostr’amor! Ja Dompnedeus non voilla
qu’en ma colpa sia.l departimens.

Valer mi deu mos pretz e mos paratges
e ma beutatz e plus mos fins coratges;
per qu’eu vos man lai on es vostr’ estatges
esta chanson, que me sia messatges:
e voill saber, lo meus bels amics gens,
per que vos m’etz tant fers ni tant salvatges;
no sai si s’es orgoills o mal talens.

Mais aitan plus voill li digas, messatges,
qu’en trop d’orgoill an gran dan maintas gens.

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4. Cantigas of Alfonso X

Beginning of XIII century was the peak of the crusades against Al-Andalus. The major event happens in 1236, when Cordoba falls under the christian rule. By the century end the christians had conquered the whole south of Portugal and Spain down to Gibraltar, including Seville. The muslim elite was forced to leave the continent, and the main cultural centers of Al-Andalus moved to Granada and Africa. This is the time, when the last muslims rulers dynasty – the Nasrids – in order to strengthen the faith and the unity of muslims – started building Granada’s majestic castle “Alhambra” – “the eighth” wonder in the world.

In 1252 Alfonso X became the сhristian king of Castile and Leon and put great efforts to centralize his power and to bring the christian lands to the same laws. The personality of Alfonso, the cultural richness of the newly conquered southern lands, as well as the presence of highly cultured Granada close to his lands, contributed to that the king himself was a highly educated man, for what he even received the nickname “the Wise”. He was fond of philosophy, astrology, history, music, poetry, chess, and sought to create around itself a highly cultured court. He forced to use Castilian as primary language of the court, encouraged the translation of literature from Arabic and other languages to it, and thus popularized Castilian as a primary language of the kingdom. He held at the court arab, jewish and christian doctors, philosophers, scientists, poets and musicians, including the number of “mudekhar”s – the muslims “who were allowed to stay”.

Prologue illustration from Cantigas of St. MaryUnder personal editorship of Alfonso it was compiled a considerable collection of court songs – “cantigas”, of which the most famous are romantic “Cantigas de Amigo” and religious “Cantigas de Santa Maria” (over 420 songs). Those collections are monuments of not only the poetry and music of XIII century, but also depicts the king playing music, other court musicians and musical instruments of that era, most of which were inherited from Al-Andalus. The lyrics of the Cantigas were written in Galician-Portuguese Latin – the main language of the north of Spain and the main language of the Christian poetry of that time, quite similar to Occitan of the troubadours. We know that Alfonso was well-acquainted with troubadour art, and even considered himself as one of them.

Cantiga of St. Mary #77

Desto fez Santa María miragre fremoso
ena sa igrej’ en Lugo, grand’ e pïadoso,
por ũa mollér que avía tolleito
o mais de séu córp’ e de mal encolleito.
A woman was almost entirely paralyzed.

Que amba-las súas mãos assí s’ encolleran,
que ben per cabo dos ombros todas se meteran,
e os calcannares ben en séu dereito
se meteron todos no córpo maltreito.
Her limbs were shrivelled and twisted,

Pois viu que lle non prestava nulla meezinna,
tornou-s’ a Santa María, a nóbre Reínna,
rogando-lle que non catasse despeito
se ll’ ela fezéra, mais a séu proveito
and no medicine could cure her.
She was carried on a litter to the Church of the Virgin in Lugo

Parasse mentes en guisa que a guarecesse,
se non, que fezéss’ assí per que cedo morresse;
e lógo se fezo levar en un leito
ant’ a sa igreja, pequen’ e estreito.
and kept vigil there.

E ela alí jazendo fez mui bõa vida
trões que ll’ ouve mercee a Sennor comprida
eno mes d’ agosto, no día ‘scolleito,
na sa fésta grande, como vos retreito
On the Virgin’s feast in August, she straightened her limbs.

Será agora per min. Ca en aquele día
se fez meter na igreja de Santa María;
mais a Santa Virgen non alongou preito,
mas tornou-ll’ o córpo todo escorreito.

Pero avẽo-ll’ atal que alí u sãava,
cada un nembro per si mui de rij’ estalava,
ben come madeira mui seca de teito,
quando s’ estendía o nervio odeito.
…Each of her limbs made a loud cracking sound as the shrunken tendons stretched.

O bispo e toda a gente deant’ estando,
veend’ aquest’ e oínd’ e de rijo chorando,
viron que miragre foi e non trasgeito;
porende loaron a Virgen afeito.
The bishop and the people who witnessed her healing wept and gave thanks to the Virgin.

Da que Déus mamou o leite do séu peito,
non é maravilla de sãar contreito.

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5. Popular songs, romances and villancicos

By the middle of XIV century the territory of Al-Andalus had reduced to the province of Granada, Almeria and Murcia only. At that time the new dark times dropped on Europe: in half a century major part of the population died from the “black death” (the plague). However, that also brought relative peace to Al-Andalus for the next 150 years, as well as the new cultural flowering. It was the era when Alhambra construction completed. Its numerous legends (read Washington Irving’s book “Alhambra”!) tell that at that time the christian and moorish rulers often were friends, visited each other, played chess, debated on science and philosophy, and were keen on music and poetry. The same happened with the common people, when moors and christians lived together in peace, and, as it always happens, some of them fell in love with people of another religion, suffered from it, and composed the songs about that. Music and poetry at that time was already quite common folk art. In the noble courts professional musicians continued to improve musical knowledge, and at that time in Europe it appears the “Ars Nova”, a Renaissance in music, when the instrumental music adopts the advanced polyphony and harmony (the chords). Though in Spain even the harmony had a strong influence of Al-Andalus (the oriental-sounding “Andalusian cadence” is quite a typical feature of Spanish music until now).

XVI century painting based on 'Three moorish girls' romance plot, which show three newly converted Christian girlsVillancico “Three moorish girls”, composed in zadzhal form (muvashshah with the refrain), is known to us thanks to the court songs collection known as “Cancionero del palacio” of XVI century. At that time, the lyrics was wrongly interpreted with religious meaning: as if three mauritanian girls were converted into christianity. In reality, the text of this popular villancico with its beautiful melody and the romantic words originated yet in XIII century. it says the story about a christian knight, who came to the moorish castle of Dzhayyen (currently Jaen in Spanish) and suddenyl saw there the three daughters of the moorish castle commandant. He fell in love with all three of them at a first sight, and after leavning the castle he sneaked back at night to see them. Having heard the girls’ conversation in the garden, he knew that they all three also fell in love with him and that made him open his presence. He was seized by the guards, but having understood what the situation was, the moorish ruler Alhamar (by whom the Alhambra took his name) by agreement with the christian king Ferdinand III arranged their wedding and the girl’s immediate baptizing…

Santa Catalina castle in JaenAt the time of Ferdinand III, the father of Alfonso X, the fortress Abrehvi (Santa Catalina now) in Jaen was ruled by Suleiman, a confidant of Algamar, one who started to build the great Alhambra. Suleiman lost his wife after childbirth, leaving him to raise three daughters: Asha, Fatima and Marien (Mary). The time was passing by, and the girls became young ladies, whose beauty was rumored far beyond Jaen. So, the father kept them locked in the house far away from prying eyes. One day, the messenger from King Ferdinand arrived in Jaen to deliver a letter to the moorish king. While Algamar pondered the answer he gave the order to settle the Christian knight in the castle. To honor the envoy Suleiman, who was a relative of the king, invited him for a dinner. When the dessert was served three sisters suddenly entered the room, but when prompted, quickly disappeared in similar way as they had emerged. However, because of such accident Suleiman considered it his duty to introduce them to the guest. The knight admired the girls a lot, and since that moment he was only looking forward to seeing them again. Algamar was preparing a response to the castilian monarch for five days and the traveler had to return to Burgos. But he could not forget the three young berries, and hoped to meet them again in Dzhayen (Jaen). When he arrived to the gate of the town, he thought that the best way to get into the castle was through the garden walls. He set fire to the bushes on the one part of the wall to distract the guards, and made his way cross the wall on the other. Right at this moment three mauritanian girls were walking in the garden, but had to flee away because of much noise. The knight hid in the garden and hoped that when the fire extinguishs the three sisters would return to their game. And indeed they soon went out of the castle singing the song “Where are you now, a handsome gentleman? Сould I only see you once? How sad was my life, you got lost somewhere far away in a foreign land”. The knight went out of the bushes to them and asked if he was the gentleman whom they were singing about, and also that since he first saw them – he forgetfully fell in love with all three of them… With tears in her eyes Asha told that their love was impossible because their father had promised her to marry with a wealthy gentleman from Granada, a relative of king Algamar, and that she also suffered of love for him. Sighing, the sisters decided to go to the castle, and the gentleman wanted to follow them, but was discovered by the guard, captured and brought to Suleiman. Suleiman recognized the wanderer and asked him for what reason he was in the castle. The fellow did answer and that angered Suleiman, but remembering that the messenger was the relative of king Ferdinand, he decided to leave everything at the decision of Algamar. A few days later the ьoorish ruler came and met with the christian, who told him honestly everything as it was. The king decided to meet with the three sisters. After talking with them the moorish king gathered his relative, to whom the sisters were promised, the envoy and Suleiman and said to him ”
Here we are all three men who love your daughters, that’s why let Asha belong to the christian knight, and Fatima and Marien will choose a husband from the remaining two. And Suleiman replied shyly: “Yes, if I had a hundred daughters, I would have given away a hundred, and if you want the only one, of course I can not deny, nor could I refuse to your brother, to whom I promised all three earlier and my heart would not grieve that I shall give her to a christian, nor because of religion, but because I know he’s a good knight, with strong courage and the good kind, but only because I grieve that she would leave my house and I would never see her anymore. But this trick allowed the gentleman to raise his voice, and he immediately promised that at least once a year they will visit him, and they decided to let Fatima and Marien choose their own husbands. On the same day Algamar sent another message to Fernando with a story that has happened, and the christian ruler, who was in Ubeda at that time, responded that he wanted to completely take over the expenses for a wedding. The young couple went to Ubeda where the moorish girl was shortly baptized and they subsequently engaged.

Three moorish girls
(villancico from “Cancionero del Palacio”)

Tres morillas m’enamoran en Jaén
Axa, Fátima y Marien

Tres moricas tan loçanas
Tres moricas tan galanas
Ivan a coger mançanas en Jaén
Axa, Fátima y Marién

Con su grande hermosura,
Crianza, seso y cordura,
Cautivaron mi ventura y mi bien,
Axa, Fátima y Marién

Yo vos juro al Corán
M’aveis puest’ en grande afan
Do mis ojos perarán tal verén
Axa, Fátima y Marién

Three moorish girls made me fall in love in Jaen
Asha, Fatima and Marién…

Three Moorish girls so lovely,
Three Moorish girls so lovely,
Went to pick olives in Jaen,
Axa, Fatima and Marien.

You great beauty
Your mannerliness, good sense and sanity,
Captured all my luck and fortune
Axa, Fatima and Marien!

I swear to you by the Koran,
In which you ladies believe,
Wherever I cast my eyes they will see:
Axa, Fatima and Marien!

Girl, show me your eyes
(villancico from “Cancionero del Palacio”)

Niña, erguídeme los ojos
Que a mi enamorado me án
No los alçes desdeñosos
Sino ledos y amorosos
Que mis tormentos penosos
En verlos descansarán
Girl, show me your eyes,
Which I fell in love so much with
Do not make them so contemptuous
But only funny and loving
Oh, let my grave pains
subside, if I could only see them

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6. Songs of sefards

SefardsIn 1492, Granada fell under the rule of Isabella and Ferdinand – the monarchs of Castile and Leon – and that ended the history of Al-Andalus as a state. The same year the new rulers issued a decree commanding that all Granada jews (sephardim) should either convert to christianity or leave the Spanish land. At all the times of Al-Andalus jews in Granada enjoyed a special status, fully equal to muslims. They occupied high positions in the region and country administration. Half of the country’s economy, namely agriculture, was governed by the muslim community and the other half – the craft, the trade and the town – by the jewish one. Ant the significance of the sephardic community caused such a cruel royal decree.

In 1492 the Granada sephards decided to leave Spain. At this moment Granada counted for about 50,000 jews. They dispersed to the countries of Mediterranian Sea, settling sa far as Greece, Turkey and Syria. Sephards today still retain the late Granada Latin language – Ladino – wihch is a mixture of ancient Spanish with Arabic and Hebrew words, as well as their own ancient culture, music and songs. Since the times of Al-Andalus Sephards were also famous for their instrumental music.

The rose blooms
(sefardic song of anon. author, Granada, XV century)

La rosa enflorece
Hoy en el mes de mai
Mi neshama s´escurese
Firiéndose el lunar

Los bilbilicos cantan
Con sospiros de aver
Mi neshama y mi ventura
Están en tu poder

Los bilbilicos cantan
En el árbol de la flor
Debaxo se asientan
Los que sufren de amor

Mas presto ven palomba
Mas presto ven a mi
Mas presto ven querida
Corre y salvame

The rose blooms
in the month of May,
my soul darkens
and wounds the moon

The nightingales sing
with sighs due to air
My soul and my fate
are in your hands

The nightingales are singing
peached on the blossoming tree
Sit under its shade
Those who suffer with love

But quickly come, the dove,
But quickly come to me
But quickly come, my dear,
Run and rescue me.

* * *

7. Songs of moriscos

Year 1492. Granada fell and Columbus discovered America. According to legend, the last moorish ruler of Granada – Boabdil (Abu Abdul) – who was leaving the town through the ancient Roman bridge over Genil river met Columbus on his way to Granada, where the latter wanted to his services to Ferdinand and Isabella, and right on this bridge he was overtaken by the runner from the King of Seville, who agreed to send the Columbus’s expedition to gain all the honors for this discovery instead of Ferdinand and Isabella.

The expulsion of the moriscos from Granada's Elvira gate (southern gate of Granada), c.1614In 1492, many muslims, especially of moorish origin, left the country and moved to North Africa – toin Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. And this migration continued for about 120 years after the fall of Al-Andalus. Those who remained were ordered to convert to christianity, and this part of the population received the name “moriscos”. A significant part of moriscos continued secretly to speak Arabic and, when noone sees them, secretly practice their religion and customs. Another part was forced to hide in the mountains. For over a hundred years after the fall of Granada moriscos raised numerous rebellions against the Christians, and the attitude towards them was toughening and faltering from time to time. After around 1567 the moriscos were finally banned to use Arabic and all their customs. Including the usage of their musical instruments (and from that moment Spain no longer used the “ud”, but only the guitar). Moriscos were ordered to learn Castilian, however, even the remaining Moriscos sometimes continued to use the Arabic alphabet for writing (a phenomenon known as “al-dzhamiya”). Ultimately in 1609-1614 more than 300 thousand moriscos were conmpulsorily expelled from Spain, and moved to North Africa.

Alhambra: moorish kings castle in GranadaThe spanish romance “The moorish king was strolling through the city of Granada” was written in music by XVI century court composer Luis Narvaez from Granada, but it is also believed that the song was originally composed by moriscos and translated from Arabic (or from al-dzhamia). The romance tells the story about the capture of Alhama – the border town of Granada – by the christians in 1482, being the event which meant the inevitable decline for the whole Granada and Al-Andalus. The romance in the pathetic tones tells the story of the last moorish ruler Boabdil listing all his mistakes, which made the fall of Al-Andalus happen.

The Moorish king was strolling

Paseábase el rey moro
por la ciudad de Granada
Cartas le fueron venidas
como Alhama era tomada

Las cartas echó en el fuego
y al mensajero matara,
echó mano a sus caballos
y las sus barbas mesaba

Apeóse de una mula,
y en un caballo cabalga
mandó tocar sus trompetas,
sus añafiles de plata

Porque lo oyesen los moros
que andaban por el arada
Cuatro a cuatro, cinco a cinco
juntado se ha gran batalla

Allí habló un moro viejo,
que era alguacil de Granada:
¿Porque nos llamaste, rey,
a qué fue nuestra llamada?

-Habéis de saber, amigos,
una nueva desdichada:
que cristianos de braveza
ya nos han ganado Alhama

Allí habló un gran faquí
de barba crecida y cana:
-Bien se te emplea, buen rey,
buen rey, bien se te empleara

Mataste los aBencerrajes,
que eran la flor de Granada,
cogiste los tornadizos
de Córdoba la nombrada

Por eso mereces, rey,
una pena muy doblada
que te pierdas tú y el reino,
y aquí se pierda Granada.

-¡Ay de mi Alhama!

The Moorish king was strolling
Through the city of Granada
Letters came
Saying that Alhama had been taken

He cast the letters into the fire
And killed the messenger
He touched his horses
and tore their manes

He alighted from a mule,
and rode a horse
He ordered the trumpets to be played
His trumpets of silver

Once heard them the moors
who went by the plowing
Four to four, five to five
they gathered into a big crowd

Then talked one old moor,
who was the sheriff of Granada:
Why have you called us, the king,
what was your call for?

-Friends, you must know
of a new misfortune
Ferocious Christians
have seized Alhama

A wise man of law spoke
A mand of long, white beard
You got what you were due, good king
Good king, you got what you were due…

You killed the Bencerrajes
who were the best of Granada
You chose the turncoats
of famed Cordoba

– For that, king, you deserve
a double-edged sorrow
You lose, and you lose your kingdom
and here is lost Granada…

Oh, my pain, Alhama!

Lions yard in the Alhambra castle: the place where Boabdil killed last non-moorish nobility family of Granada - Benserrahs

* * *

8. Córdoba

The Moors were expelled from the christian Spain, however, they still live with the look and thoughts glancing back to their gloriousest past – the era of Al-Andalus and the golden age of Medina taz-Zahra – the “flower-town” Cordoba. Muslims left Spain, but Spain, despite all the attempts of medieval christian monarchs to belittle the contribution of the Muslim world – absorbed all their rich heritage, which is still manifested in their culture, music, literature and poetry, where the christian and moorish past and present have mixed eternally and inextricably…

Cordoba at night: the Roman bridge, the Great Mosque and the Catolic Cathedral

The program ends with the piece of the Spanish composer of XIX century Isaac Albeniz “Córdoba” interpreted by the modern Spanish composer Roque Baños in arrangement of Spanish group of medieval music “Cinco Siglos” (”Five centuries”).

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