Next Music Station
Yemen: Between tradition and modernity
Yemeni musicians combine traditional melodies with modern technology to create a unique music scene.
Last Modified: 08 May 2011 15:28

Next Music Station is an odyssey through the rhythms of the Arab world.

A year in production, with nine countries visited and more than 80 musicians interviewed, this series by musician and documentary filmmaker Fermin Muguruza paints a 'soundscape' of the Arab music scene.

From Morocco to the Gulf, Next Music Station takes us on a journey, exploring the music of different Arab countries, en route addressing issues of tradition and modernity, the struggles of the present and the yearning for a brighter future.

In the third episode of Next Music Station we visit Yemen, one of the most emblematic musical sites in the Arab world. Surrounded by water, the Red and the Arabian seas, the Republic of Yemen is the birthplace of the Queen of Sheba and also that of a unique mix of music.

Yemeni musicians are eager to preserve their traditional melodies - a thousand-year-old tunes played on the oud and the poetical homayni songs.

But the classical sounds are now combined with new genres such as rap and electronic beats, creating a unique and innovative musical style which captivates audiences of different generations. 

Meet the musicians 
Abdulbasset al-Harethi
Abdulbasset al-Harethi is the founder of Sanaa's first orchestra. He has composed several national hymns as well as folklore music. He has also worked on collaborations with Korean and Egyptian artists.

"I was ... influenced by ... Arab singers, such as Fareed al-Atrash, Umm Khulthum and Abdul Wahab, and by western musicians, such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach."
Sharaf al-Kaedi
Trained in the lute, Sharaf al-Kaedi's musical repertoire shows influences from Yemeni and regional songs. His talent and acknowledgement have taken him across Europe. 

"I try to take from the past what makes me more creative and what offers a communication link between the old generation and the modern one." 

Jameela Saad
The oud accompanies Jameela Saad's hypnotic voice making her an outstanding figure in the Yemeni music scene. Her music and lyrics inspire emotion, captivating audiences both young and adult.

"In the past, it was difficult, but now, people are more open-minded. They have started to realise that singing is not shameful or forbidden."   
Fouad Ali al-Shargabi

Fouad Ali al-Shargabi is the founder and director of the Yemeni House of Music, a public institution devoted to preserve and document Yemeni song.

"The Yemen Music House is my house, and the house of all singers. It is the house of all creative young people who run away from chewing Qat."  

Hagage A.J. Masaed

Hagage A.J. Masaed creates his unique musical style by combining rap and traditional instruments such as the mermar - an ancient type of flute.

"Rap comes from the heartache. It comes along with oppressed people, whether oppressed by the government, in their own homes or in the areas they live in." 

Abdulrahman al- Akhfash
Descendant of a long line of musicians, Abdulrahman al-Akhfash started singing at an early age. His mix of traditional Yemeni music recordings and his own compositions made him popular across Yemen. 

"Yemen's music is one of the basic foundations of the world's music, music of all nations in general [...] Where there is music, there is humanity."
Born in the harbour city of Aden, Shouruq, a singer and actress, mixes traditional Yemeni music with new rhythms and electric sounds.

She creates an innovative style within Yemen's contemporary music scene. 

"You can find different music styles as you move from one village to another." 
Naif Awadh Ali

He started his music career as a wedding singer where he soon found a fan base. Naif Awadh Ali's performance of the Yemeni lute, his vowel intonation and his catchy melodies, are the basis of his very personal music language. 

"How … to become a known singer? Everybody starts by singing at weddings in Aden of course." 

Awadh Ahmed

His vocation for music started at a young age, when he started imitating the famous singers. Awadh Ahmed then started giving voice to the verses of Yemeni poetry. 

"I've ... composed many melodies for some singers, such as al-Atrosh, Soud Ahmed Saleh, Bin Shamekh, Ahmed Qassim, and Al-Murshidi ... "  


Episode three - Yemen can be seen from Tuesday, May 10, at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2000; Wednesday: 1200; Thursday: 0100; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 2000; Sunday: 1200; Monday: 0100; Tuesday: 0600.

Click here for more on the series.

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