Symphonic Taraab


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The Norwegian Radio Orchestra

with Maryam Said Hamdun, Mohanmmed Issa Matona Haji & Rajab Suleiman

Symphonic Taraab 

Taraab is the music of Zanzibar, born and developed on these islands off the coast of East Africa. Zanzibar being the cultural road crossing that it is, you will not be surprised to learn that taraab is a music form with many influences. Of course the Arab and the African ones are the strongest, but there are more, including both Indian and European.

One unique thing about taraab is that it is such a rare thing as an African music form with an orchestral tradition. A taraab orchestra with all sails set is quite an experience, with violins, drums, oud, qanun, double bass and more, plus lead singer and a choir.

Still, some musicians in Zanzibar, called Matona and Rajab, were dreaming of even more power and force behind their music. This dream merged with the dream of producer Sigbjørn Nedland, who had a long time ambition of bringing the taraab orchestral tradition and the European orchestral tradition together.

The Norwegian Radio Orchestra and its leader Rolf Lennart Stensø took the challenge, and decided to give this idea a try. First an unconventional string quartet consisting of violin, viola, cello and double bass with tailor-made arrangements tried out the idea of a merge between the taarab and the western classical tradition. They performed with a group of Zanzibari and Norwegian musicians during the Sauti Za Busara festival in Zanzibar in 2011.

The results were encouraging, and Petter Winroth, arranger, and also a musician in the orchestra, was invited to come to Zanzibar to study the taraab music and meet with musicians of the Zanzibari Musical Clubs and at the Dhow Countries Music Academy during the next Sauti Za Busara, in 2012.

The result can be heard on this CD: “an inspired and enthusiastic symphony orchestra with specially written arrangements entering into the world of Zanzibari taraab, and three Zanzibari artists feeling the unique power of a symphony orchestra behind them, making their native music soar, flying more sails than ever. “Sigbjørn Nedland

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Zamani (Earlier on)
A love song

Earlier on you told me I will be always yours
You are doubting my love where is your truth?
I am begging for a chance I really love you
Let our love grow strong
You told me I will be always your
I need you but you are not there
Earlier on you told me I will be always yours

Nnazama (I am sinking)
A love song

You see me sinking you don’t want to save me
You just sit and watch me you don’t dare secure me
You’re the only person to take me out of this
Unexplainable tears falling for you
I don’t have anything to hold on to
I can’t be secure without you
You see I am drowning; you don’t want to save me
You see that am completely sinking and you still don’t believe

Sabahlkher mpenzi (Good morning my love)
Zanzibar Dur

M- Blessed morning my love how are you
F- Brightened morning, I am well like you
M- How are your parents at home?
F- God protected them they are just worried about you
Comfort me for letting me know your problem
M- I can’t handle myself your face is my medicine
F- Don’t be sad my face is yours
F- No one will appear, I love you only
M- I will always love you; I will never throw your love away

Ashairejea (He went back for it)
Zanzibar dur // “Dur” means «free lyrics»

You can sing about anything, but the important thing is that you follow the melody ( No specific/fixed words in lyrics)

Jipeleleze (Investigate yourself )
A love song

Investigate yourself, ask yourself
Don’t look for any enemy but yourself
If you don’t know this ask others