El-Funoun

Zaghareed

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    5
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El-Funoun is a Palestinian folk music and dance troupe based on the West Bank. Zaghareed refers to the wailing cries of celebration popular in the Arabic culture. The album is a collection of songs telling the story of a couple's betrothal and wedding. The instruments are traditional Arabic, and there are a wide variety of voices, including male and female soloists and choruses. (There is also limited use of harmony, which is not an element of traditional Arabic music.) All the performances are very good. The music is lively and entertaining, but because the album is essentially an opera, with a narrative and dance interlude, the music doesn't hang together on its own. The experience is somewhat like listening to ballet music without seeing the ballet. The program also has a staccato quality, because the tracks are very short -- less than three minutes, on average. Reading the track summaries in the booklet does help somewhat. The album ends with four instrumental tracks that are both rhythmic and romantic. Recommended for those interested in Palestinian culture or in some bright sounds from the region. One warning: the album is only 38 minutes long, so don't pay full price.

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