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The first commercial recordings of music in Aden (1935-1960) and their “digital patrimonialization”

Les premiers enregistrements commerciaux de musique à Aden (1935-1960) et leur « patrimonialisation numérique »
«التسجيلات التجارية الأولى للموسيقى في عدن (١٩٣٥-١٩٦٠) وحفظها «كتراث عام رقمي
Jean Lambert et Rafik al-Akouri
p. 137-163

Résumés

Les premiers enregistrements commerciaux de musique yéménite ont été réalisés à Aden à la fin des années 1930, pendant la période coloniale britannique. Ces disques 78 tours ont d'abord été publiés par une société étrangère, Odéon, puis par plusieurs sociétés locales, dont Aden Crown, Jafferphon et Tahaphone. Ainsi, toutes les traditions musicales urbaines du Yémen, San‘ânî, Lahjî, Hadramî, etc., ont été rapidement reconnues et diffusées dans tout le pays entre 1935 et 1960. Par conséquent, faire l’histoire de ces disques nécessite de faire l’histoire des maisons de disques et de comprendre comment la musique yéménite a été pour la première fois impliquée dans un marché mondial impliquant également des acteurs européens. Ces premiers enregistrements sont estimés à plusieurs milliers de disques, mais ils sont encore très peu connus. Il est difficile d'établir une chronologie, car les différents documents disponibles sont rarement datés. Cette recherche doit donc essayer de reconstruire patiemment une chronologie, de délimiter de manière approximative des plages de dates, des périodes et des corrélations temporelles. Comme les premiers documents qui étaient disponibles au Centre du patrimoine musical du Yémen sont maintenant en danger, il est temps de les archiver grâce à une base de données numérique. Dans le même temps, la « patrimonialisation sauvag » actuelle de cette musique sur le Web, réalisée par de nombreux acteurs privés, permet un accès facile à de nombreuses copies de ces enregistrements sonores sur des plateformes grand public, en particulier YouTube. Cela représente un énorme pas en avant pour le processus d'inventaire, permettant le développement d'une base de données sonores qui peut être partagée par plusieurs chercheurs et institutions. C'est à partir de cette première base de données que cet article tente de faire une synthèse. Mais du point de vue de la conservation, comme cette forme de stockage très aléatoire sur le Web n'est pas durable, elle laisse entièrement intacte la question de la conservation à long terme.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 Made by the Imperial Academy of Vienna in 1898, these recordings are kept at the Phonotheque of Vi (...)
  • 2 Hans Helfritz, whose recordings mainly in the cities of Marib and Sanaa, are kept at the Sound Arc (...)

1Before the 1930s, there were very few recordings of Yemeni music. Some rare cylinders were made by Austrian linguists in Mahra and Socotra,1 and by a German musicologist2 in the 1930s. Some of the earliest commercial recordings of Arab and Yemenite musicians were made by companies in India, but they are scattered in Indian catalogs (Kinnear 1994, 2000). Their inventory remains to be made more precisely. Similarly, some early recordings of Hadrami musicians by Indonesian companies have yet to be documented.

2The first commercial recordings made in Yemen were done on 78 rpm discs, first by a foreign company and then by local companies, between the mid-1930s and the early 1960s. These recordings mainly took place in the city of Aden, which was the only cosmopolitan town in the region. In a country where oral transmission remained the main vehicle for music till the beginning of the 21th century, the existence of these recordings provides us an early archiving of Yemeni music according to methods of systematic documentation, thanks to the industrial treatment these records were subjected to, with catalog numbers, matrix numbers, song titles, name of the main performer, and often, the classification of the regional genre. Thus, on the basis of such an inventory established by the Yemen Musical Heritage Center many years ago, we have been able to gather today approximately 700 discs or disc references, in order to initiate a comprehensive study. The database is temporarily set up on Excel software. It contains a dozen different entries, including one for hypertext links towards sound archives available on the Web (currently, the database contains around 300 links with sounds). This article aims at summarizing the first lessons that can be drawn from this accumulation of data, as well as giving wider access to a brief anthology of these recordings.

  • 3 See Annex 1.

3It should be noted that this is only a first state of knowledge, as the quantity of records published during this period is estimated between 2000 to 3500.3 We are therefore far from having covered the issue. There is no doubt that the increasing use of the Internet will allow some progress in the years to come, by encouraging the sharing of information with public institutions and private collectors.

  • 4 When Imam Ahmed opened a radio station in Sanaa, in response to the growing influence of Egyptian (...)
  • 5 Some 45 rpm discs are conserved in the Yemen Musical Heritage Centre.

4Other remarkable recordings were subsequently made on magnetic tapes from the mid-1950s, in Aden and in 1955 in Sanaa.4 We have not included them in our database or in this study since these recordings have a different technical medium, and therefore do not allow a similar archiving and require a more complex methodology. Neither have we been able to study yet the 45 rpm records that developed during the years 19605, and are also of artistic interest. Within the limited scope of this article, we shall thus concentrate on the 78 rpm recordings made by trading companies in Yemen between, roughly, 1935 and 1960.

Sources and materials

5Sources and materials available to us are both important and very fragmentary. Documents allowing us to make precise dating are sorely lacking. Our main references are the following:

  • A first inventory of about 400 records, made in the course of the 2000s, of the collections of the Yemen Musical Heritage Centre (Ministry of Culture, Sanaa);6
  • Diverse inventories of several scattered collections, allowing us to inventory 700 titles or references;
  • A single original catalog, from the Aden Crown company, without any date;
  • Sound copies of these recordings appearing on the Internet, in particular on YouTube, but poorly documented, and sometimes giving rise to errors of attribution.

6The written sources are mainly:

  • Muhammad ‘Abduh Ghânim’s book, Shi‘r al-ghinâ al-san‘ânî, which contains an invaluable list of one hundred inventory numbers;
  • Muhammad Murshid Nâjî’s book, Al-ghinâ al-yamanî al-qadîm wa-mashâhiruhu, which contains several lists of song titles, with the name of the companies, as well as biography of some of these musicians, but no numbers, only a few dates (which are not much reliable) and nothing on the material aspect of the records;
  • Muhammad Murshid Nâjî’s book of 1958, which covers the last period (the 1950s).

7Generally speaking, the present article essentially aims at sketching a history of the recording companies operating in Aden during this period, most of which were local. But it is necessary to underline that, unlike the big western companies, all this material almost completely lacks dates. In these conditions, we are reduced to basing ourselves on inventory numbers and on rare historic testimonies, in order to formulate some modest guesses. Here, we can almost speak of musical archaeology, and also of industrial archaeology (Lambert, Al-Akouri 2019).

8We were able to identify seven or eight companies that operated in Yemen during this period. Curiously, most of the information we have concerns the oldest companies, Odeon and Aden Crown, while the most recent ones, those of the 1950s, Azaziphon and Arabian South, are still poorly known to us. One may wonder about the reasons of such a discrepancy: the range of distribution of each company, the regional origin of the known collections, the regional preferences of certain collectors, etc.

9The format of the 78 rpm records are always the same: two faces each lasting a little over three minutes. From Aden Crown, we begin to hear a vocal announcement about the electrical recording technique. In fact, this technique was still new in Yemen, while it was already ten years old elsewhere.

10For various reasons, there are many gaps and shortcomings around these references:

  • Some discs were consulted and some were not;
  • We do not know if all the inventory numbers actually correspond to produced discs;
  • Some records were not traditionally Yemeni (sometimes from the Gulf or Egypt);
  • Some companies gave an inventory number for each disc (Aden Crown, Jafferphon), but others gave two numbers for each disc, one for side A and the other for side B (Odeon, Tahaphone). This obviously affects the assessment of the volume of our inventory;
  • Since the discs were always double-sided, the two sides usually had the same song, with the same poetic text. But in some cases, side B had a different title;
  • For some companies, we have too little information or too few records;
  • Some discs could only be documented by the copy found on the Internet. In this case, we could only document the title of the song, the lead performer, sometimes the company when there is a voice announcement, but no inventory number.
  • 7 Actually, the whole collection fo the YCMH has been seriously endangered (see note 9).

11To all these difficulties, we must add the current deterioration of living conditions in Yemen since at least 2014, which seriously affect the storage conditions of records in Yemen7. For this reason, copies of some of the discs that had been collected could not be used, nor could a full photographic coverage be ensured. As a matter of fact, the impetus for conducting this study was largely related to the sense of emergency caused by the events in Yemen, and the need to save this endangered cultural heritage.

A “digital patrimonialization” of Yemeni Music

12The copies of 78 rpm discs that we were able to find on the Internet enabled us to considerably enrich our documentation, and also to speed up its archiving, partly without going through the digitization stage. Of course, this is not entirely satisfying, because web links are not durable, and the quality of the sound material is not optimal. We can thus consider it as a temporary solution, and hope for more sustainable ones, especially through future cooperation between institutions and individuals.

13However, it is particularly interesting to point out the existence of this spontaneous phenomenon: over the past ten years, several Youtube channels have been created and are dedicated to traditional Yemeni music, as well as a few more structured websites. It is mainly the work of private collectors, but also the institutional initiative of the Yemen Musical Heritage Centre, which not only has its own Youtube channel, but also a regularly updated Facebook page.8 Here are some of the most relevant initiatives, although none is dedicated solely to 78 rpm discs:

  • Aden Vintage:9 the oldest. It mainly gathers artists from the South (Aden, Hadramawt, etc.), many of them after the 78 records period, but also includes a large part of the Song of Sanaa,10 therefore the oldest records;
  • Mudawwanat (“corpus”) by Najd al-Husaynî:11 in addition to his Youtube channel called Nazboxe, whose sound quality is the best of all, this collector had a well-documented website, with biographies of musicians;12
  • Channel Aswât Yamaniyya (Yemen Sounds);13
  • The Youtube channel of the Yemeni Musical Heritage Centre:14 it is the most reliable in terms of attributions, since the documentation was systematically carried out on a concrete collection. It presents about 150 pieces online, almost all of which are copies of 78 rpm.

14Previously, this type of documents was only available on cassettes or on CDs, thus less accessible and less manipulable. The discs’ copies on the Internet are often of poor sound quality and are generally little documented, resulting in attribution errors. These digital media present a mix of 78 rpm discs and copies of other media, mainly magnetic tapes and 45 rpm, but this is not indicated. On the other hand, they are very useful sources for identifying discs, with at least their title and their performer. Of course, we do not know how long these documents will remain accessible on the Net. Their use in this article should therefore be considered as a temporary solution, pending the eventual establishment of a national music archive in Yemen. The database on which we draw to write this article will be put online in the near future.

15It should now be emphasized that all the documents that have just been quoted almost never allow us to establish a precise dating. The discs do not bear a date, and neither do the catalogs (unlike at larger western and middle eastern companies). Books and biographies do not provide much more, and the few dates indicated are mostly unreliable. For this reason, our work can be considered as a musical or an “industrial archeology” (Lambert, Al-Akouri 2019). Nevertheless, one of the main objectives of this article is to sketch a history of the record companies that operated in Aden. Thus, the discs, in their materiality, remain our best guide. We will quote as many examples as possible of these records, for each company, each artist and each genre, with, as often as possible, a link to listen to them on the Internet.

The foreign companies

16Only two foreign companies worked in Yemen: Odeon and Parlophon.

The Odeon company

17This company, which was originally German and became partly British, operated in India between 1932 and 1938. It was the first to record 78 rpm discs in Aden, probably during the same period. It operated from a representative office in Bombay, where many Arab and Yemeni musicians were living (Lambert 2001). At that time, Aden was under the rule of the Viceroy of India. Because there were many commercial contacts and migrations between both countries, there were also many cultural contacts.

  • 15 Odeon Records shellac were produced in India in two phases: (1) 1912-1916, and (2) 1932-38. During (...)

18Odeon’s German branch was controlled by the Nazi government in 1936, and the company left India, probably a little later.15 We can assume that the recordings in the British colony took place during a short period, probably between 1935 and 1938, approximately. There may have been two different groups of engineers who worked in parallel, as some records are marked “Made in Germany” (fig. 1) and others “Made in England” (fig. 2). The rare sources mention 1937 (Serjeant 1951) and 1938 (Murshid Nâjî 1984: 180).

Figure 1. Odeon, Abû Bakr Bâ Sharâhîl, Yâ man 'atâyâh. Made in Germany

Figure 1. Odeon, Abû Bakr Bâ Sharâhîl, Yâ man 'atâyâh. Made in Germany

Figure 2. Odeon, Abû Bakr Bâ Sharâhîl, 'Azîm al-shân. Made in England

Figure 2. Odeon, Abû Bakr Bâ Sharâhîl, 'Azîm al-shân. Made in England

19We currently dispose of 120 discs or disc references, that is, approximately 150 songs. By observing the series of inventory numbers, we estimate that potentially 700 discs were recorded by Odeon. As far as the content is concerned, we find at Odeon the first great singers known in Aden:

  • ‘Alî Abû Bakr Bâ Sharâhîl (m. in 1951),16 a great master of the Song of Sanaa (see note 13), one of the rare artist still playing the qanbûs17 at that time in Aden: Ghannâ ‘alâ nâyif al-bawâsiq;18
  • Ibrâhîm al-Mâs (1900-1966):19 in terms of quantity, this modernist musician took the lion’s share, with approximately 70 listed records, but doubtlessly much more: Al-Ghuwaydî nazam.20 As we will see, this prolific artist also recorded with several other companies;21
  • Ahmed 'Awad al-Jarrâsh:22 only some tracks such as Layta bayd al-amânî;23
  • ‘Umar Mahfûz Ghâbba (m. 1965)24, around thirty titles, singing mainly in the Hadramî and ‘Adanî style, largely modernized, including also some social criticism and comic monologues (Murshid Nâjî 1984, 141-145): Faraqt baynî ahlî wu-baynî;25
  • Fadl Muhammad al-Lahjî (1911-1967), the official artist of the famous poet al-Qumundân, the prince of Lahj.26 Al-Lahjî is singing mainly in the lahjî style: Yallah yâ man ‘alâ al-‘arsh i‘talayt;27
  • Mus‘id Ahmed al-Lahjî, also a close friend of the Qumundân (a dozen titles): Mennî masâ al-khayr.28

20It is noteworthy that the first 300 reference numbers are only San‘ânî, i.e. Song of Sanaa (Bâ Sharâhîl + Ibrâhîm al-Mâs), which was considered at that time as the most prestigious genre. Next come the recordings of ‘Umar Mahfûz Ghabba (‘adanî, lahjî) and Mus‘id al-Lahjî (lahjî). The fact that they appear later and were fewer indicates that these genres were less prestigious, as it was documented by some musical controverses at that time (Lambert 1993).

The Parlophon company

21This company, a German subsidiary of Gramophone, then EMI, probably worked from India, like Odeon. The label appears with black writing on a golden background (fig. 3). According to the labels, we can estimate the date of these recordings at an early stage, probably mid-thirties, but it is not sure. This company probably did not record many artists, and the ones recorded were mainly from Aden and Lahej, among which the Adeni singer Fadel Mâtir. At the moment we have very little information to document it, and no sound.

Figure 3. Parlophon: Muhammad Sa'îd al-'Adanî, Wa-min ajr leh elf

Figure 3. Parlophon: Muhammad Sa'îd al-'Adanî, Wa-min ajr leh elf

The local companies

The Aden Crown (al-Tâj al-‘Adanî) company

22We do not know exactly when Aden Crown began to record and to produce discs: was it after Odeon ceased its activities in 1938? Or did these two companies work at the same time for a certain period of time? Were they in competition with each other? Robert Serjeant gives 1937 as a date of beginning (Serjeant 1951) and Murshid Nâjî gives 1939 (1984, 187), without quoting any particular reference. Since Aden had become “Crown Colony” in 1937, it is likely that the idea to name the company “Aden Crown” was directly inspired by this political event. Consequently, it is plausible that the company’s activities began between 1937 and 1938. The Company’s office was established in Aden Camp (Crater) (fig. 4 and 5). There are at least two types of labels:

  • golden letters on a blue background (fig. 6);
  • white or silver letters on a black background (fig. 7).

Figures 4-5. Pochettes Istiwânât al-Tâj al-‘Adanî / Aden Crown Record

Figures 4-5. Pochettes Istiwânât al-Tâj al-‘Adanî / Aden Crown Record

Figure 6. Aden Crown Record / Al-Tâj al-'Adanî: Sâlih ‘Abdallah al-‘Antarî, Lâ taqûlan idhâ, ‘adanî. Blue background

Figure 6. Aden Crown Record / Al-Tâj al-'Adanî: Sâlih ‘Abdallah al-‘Antarî, Lâ taqûlan idhâ, ‘adanî. Blue background

Figure 7. Aden Crown Record : Ahmed al-Jarrâsh, Yâ fâtinnî. Black background

Figure 7. Aden Crown Record : Ahmed al-Jarrâsh, Yâ fâtinnî. Black background
  • 29 A street in the old district of Crater, the historical center of Aden.

23So far, we have not found the logic of this distinction. This company was established by a certain Sayyid ‘Alî ‘Abdallah al-Sâfî and his brothers, “agents and distributors for Aden and Arab countries and foreigners, Za‘farân street29 in Aden”. Obviously, it did not continue its activities during the war.

  • 30 But this departure from 1000 is rather strange. Are there some discs with numbers from 0 to 1000? (...)

24At present, we know approximately 190 records (that is about 220 songs). This represents a fairly good conservation rate (out of 220 serial numbers: from 1000 in 1220)30. In the only Aden Crown catalog (undated) we know, some additional informations can be found. For instance, we remark the text of a sung poem (in Arabic) by Muhammad Hasan al-Barbarâwî which recounts the invasion of Ethiopia by Mussolini’s troops (May 1936).

25Aden Crown recorded great artists, but also many others less known, popular music from outside Aden. As the catalog puts it, the company promoted “Arabic voices, Adenites, of Lahj, Bedouin, Shihr, the coast, Somalia, Sanaa, and the most famous singers of Aden”:

  • Muhammad al-Mâs (died in 1953),31 who plays the qanbûs,32 but who, unlike Bâ Sharâhîl, had not been recorded by Odeon. We have about twenty records or references: Dhâk al-‘adhûl mustarih.33 Like Bâ Sharâhîl, Muhammad al-Mâs only played the Yemeni lute, the qanbûs or tarab, or ‘ûd san'ânî, and they were both the last ones to do so in Aden;
  • Sâlih al-‘Antarî (1901-1965),34 about twenty discs: Mâ waqfatek bayn al-kathîb wa-l-bân.35 The dominant forms of his repertory were san‘ânî and lahjî;
  • Ahmed al-Jarrâsh: around thirty records or references. His recordings are very eclectic: san‘ânî, ‘adanî, lahjî and muhannad (songs, melodies which were pulled from top Indian movies): Yâ tayr yâ nâshir.36

26Aden Crown recorded for the first time many little-known singers or other artistic genres, mainly from Aden and Lahj. Let us mention:

  • military music of the Sultanate of Lahj, among which a Mârsh Bilqîs;37
  • some theatre plays, among which one entitled: Riwâyat Hârûn al-Rashîd with Qût al-Qulûb (catalog, 29-30): a theme drawn from Arab Golden Age of Bagdad;
  • some singers from Hadramawt, like the brothers ‘Abd al-Ghanî.

27This was mainly urban music, i.e. a solo singer accompanying himself on the lute, sometimes also accompanied by a violin. There were very little percussions, because the recording technique did not allow it, nor was it possible to record an orchestra composed of a large number of musicians or singers.

28Following these two pioneer companies (Odeon and Aden Crown), several other local companies followed.

Jafferphon

  • 38 An example of a vocal announcement by “Master Hamûd”: Sâlih al-Zabîdî, Yâ rabb asâlek, Jaffephon ( (...)

29This company was founded by a family, Sayyid Ja‘far and his brothers, whose store was domiciled in Camp, Aden. Some records contain at the beginning a vocal announcement mentioning the name of a somewhat mysterious owner: “Master Hamûd”.38 It is a remarkable family that played a role in the introduction of modern entertainments in Aden: the grandfather, sayyid Hamûd Hasan al-Hâshimî, introduced silent films to Aden in the 1920s. In 1925, he and his son, Muhammad, commercialized the first gramophones and the first Arabic and foreign records in Aden (at that time, there was still no local production). Hamûd’s son had many children, including two sons, Ja‘far and Taha. Thus the first company created by the family took Ja‘far’s name and became Ja‘farfûn (in English: Jafferphon). We will soon mention Taha again, as a second company was created under his name a few years later. The vocal announcements referred to “Master Hamûd” because Hamûd, the father, had been a school teacher and a leading figure at the beginning of Aden’s economic boom.

30The Jafferphon company carried out its activities before and after the war, which makes it rather outstanding. This history is still little documented. The artists recorded by Jafferphon are very diverse, with however some elements of continuity with the former companies. The new artists who were not recorded previously are:

  • ‘Alî ‘Awad al-Jarrâsh (the brother of Ahmad al-Jarrâsh): about ten titles, among which Yâ ghusn mâyis;39
  • Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahmân al-Makkâwî (unknown dates):40 only six titles known, among which Nasîm balligh ilâ al-ghânî;41
  • ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Mâs (probably a cousin of Ibrâhîm al-Mâs): about ten titles, among which Ashraqat bahjatan.42

31These three musicians, who are unfortunately represented by very few records, have a strinkingly archaic style in their san‘ânî repertory, and none of them will be recorded later. Moreover, the fact that they are all “yellow labels” (see below) argues in favor of an early dating, at the end of the thirties. On the other hand, there are other musicians from a younger generation and who will continue their career later:

  • Ahmed ‘Ubayd al-Qa‘tabî (m. 1969):43 about fifteen titles, among which Yâ rabb sâlek;44
  • ‘Awad ‘Abdallah al-Musallamî (1909-1975),45 at that time called al-A‘mâ (he was blind): Al-nâs ‘alayk yâ rîm;46
  • Sâleh al-Zabîdî: lahjî style; only 6 records, but he will also record at Tahaphone in the 50s, and later on other media: La-‘aynî hobbî naqâ.47
  • 48 It should be noted that, on YouTube, the attribution of certain titles to Ahmed al-Jarrâsh is inco (...)

32The artists previously mentioned and who recorded at Jafferphon are the following: Ibrâhim al-Mâs (less than in Odeon); Sâleh al-‘Antarî (less than in Odeon); ‘Umar Mahfûz Ghâbba; Ahmed Awad al-Jarrâsh48 (about a dozen of discs for each the two last ones).

33Other less-known musicians are represented in a much smaller number of records:

  • an anonymous lady singer called al-Muhtajiba (the Veiled). Generally speaking, it seems that Jafferphon was the first company to record women;
  • a so-called Al-Abyanî (of “Abyan”);
  • Takrîr Effendi.49

34It is only with Tahaphone and al-Janûb al-‘Arabî that the music of Hadramawt was more extensively recorded in the early 50s.

35Currently, we have 110 records or references. The numbering indicated in the YMHC inventory ranges from 0 in 1240, that is approximately 1240 records, which is a huge quantity. But we can wonder if all these records have really been published? Let us try to reconstitute the complex chronology of this peculiar company.

36First, we notice that there are at least two main types of labels: the first, with black writing on a yellow background (fig. 8), carries matrix numbers grouped under the initials SJB; whereas labels with white or silver writing on a purple background (fig. 9) belong to a series beginning with the initials GR.

37Besides, according to the available documentation, we notice that these two types of labels correspond to two different numbers series:

  • the yellow labels correspond to the inventory numbers located at the beginning of the list (15, 100);
  • while the purple labels correspond to later numbers (1084, 1167).

Figure 8. Jafferphon: Muhammad al-Makkâwî, Yâ maqîl al-‘ithâr (yellow phase)

Figure 8. Jafferphon: Muhammad al-Makkâwî, Yâ maqîl al-‘ithâr (yellow phase)

Figure 9. Jafferphon: Sâleh al-Zabîdî, Majnûn man fâraq habîbuh (purple phase)

Figure 9. Jafferphon: Sâleh al-Zabîdî, Majnûn man fâraq habîbuh (purple phase)

38If we compare the style of the written form, we notice that the purple label with the white writing is a negative picture of the yellow label with the black writing. This confirms that the “yellow labels” correspond to an earlier phase and the “purple labels” to a later phase.

39If we also compare the recorded artists, we notice that the oldest the artists and the most traditional they are, as Muhammad ‘A.R. Mekkâwî, ‘Abd al-Rahmân al-Mâs and ‘Alî ‘Awad al-Jarrâsh, they are recorded only among the first 1000 numbers; whereas the artists recorded after no. 1000 are the ones who are going to remain in activity more durably and to adapt to change, as Ahmed al-Jarrâsh, Ibrahîm al-Mâs, Ahmed al-Qa‘tabî and ‘Awad al-Musallamî: we will find them also at Tahaphone company which operated after the War, and later on magnetic tapes. Consequently, these two groups of musicians suggest also the existence of two chronological periods.

  • 50 Currently, the old Yemenite press is not easily accessible.

40According to this hypothesis, Jafferphon's first period of recording was before the World War 2, and the other one after the War. Happily, this first hypothesis was confirmed by our recent discovery of a few press documents50 which evoke the resumption of Jafferphon's activities after a vacuum period: in an advertisement dated of 31st of August, 1950, then another one on 16th of October 1950, Jafferphon announce that it resumes the records publication, “after a long absence”, and with exactly the same names which we found are dominating our inventory from no. 1024: Jum‘ah Khân, al-Qa‘tabî, al-Zabîdî, Ibrâhîm al-Mâs (al-Fadûl magazine). According to these informations, this resuming of Jafferphon's activities is rather late, five years after the War. We have here the confirmation that there was a long period a pause during the War and after it, and thus, one Jafferphon period before and another one after. This also confirms to us the exceptional resilience of the Jafferphon company, which resisted to these difficult circumstances.

41Yet some other data enrichs this hypothesis: we also found a third type of label, a very atypical and rare one. Some Jafferphon records recently discovered had their label printed in black letters on a yellow bottom (a slightly paler yellow than the first period ones), and they carry the mention: “Made in Syria” (fig. 10), which is much unexpected and astonishing. One of the songs has a well-known title in Hadramawt:

  • 51 We know very little about this musician (Lambert, Al-Akouri 2019: note 106). But listening to the (...)
  • 52 In an interview to the podcast radio Rawdat al-Balâbil (episod 051), the Kuwaytian musicologist Ah (...)

42Uyûn al-mahâ. The artist is a singer and a ûd player from Hadramawt, Sâlih Bâ Huwayrith,51 accompanied by a violinist called Elyâs Finûn, who is obviously from Aleppo. In fact, the style of this label, in particular the mention of Syria and the circular arc which surrounds it, is exactly the design of the Syrian company Sodwa, which was well known and active during the 1930’s. So, there is no doubt that this very original disk was recorded in Syria. Could this period (which is still not defined) have been corresponding to the war years when the Yemenites could not send matrixes recorded from Aden to England? This is a tempting hypothesis, but not confirmed for the time being. It could also be that these recordings were done at Sodwa studio in Aleppo during the second half of the 1930’s, so before the War, because some recordings had been done also at that time in Aleppo by Koweiti musicians.52

Figure 10. Jafferphon: The “Aleppo” period

Figure 10. Jafferphon: The “Aleppo” period

Tahaphone

43The Tahaphone company was founded by Taha Muhammad Hamûd (fig. 11), Ja'far Muhammad Hamûd's brother. This confirms to us the family links which existed between the two companies, Jafferphon, and Tahaphone. Thus, we may suppose that Tahaphone simply succeeded to Jafferphone, but for reasons we still ignore. A record cover contains some advertising for this company. We learn that it had a store which was selling numerous technical articles: besides records and gramophones, radios, tires, batteries, lanterns, etc... (fig. 12, 13) Covers of this company's disks, in particular their written form, indicate a period later than the previous ones, undoubtedly after the War. Similarly, the label with a picture of a lion (fig. 14) benefits from new printing techniques. We find some artists already active before the War and we discover several new ones.

Figure 11. Taha Muhammad Hamûd, founder of Tahaphone

Figure 11. Taha Muhammad Hamûd, founder of Tahaphone

Figure 12. Tahaphone cover. Al-Sayyid Taha Muhammad Hamûd, Al-shâri al-kabîr (High Street), in Aden

Figure 12. Tahaphone cover. Al-Sayyid Taha Muhammad Hamûd, Al-shâri‘ al-kabîr (High Street), in Aden

Figure 13. Taha Store cover, Camp, Aden, Arabia

Figure 13. Taha Store cover, Camp, Aden, Arabia

This shop proposed Philips lamps and radios, discs, His Master’s Voice and Columbia gramophones, Tahaphone and Arabphone disks, GoodYear tires, etc. Publishing weekly new records: Egyptian, Arabic, Indian, Kuwaiti...

Figure 14. Tahaphone: Ahmed ‘Ubayd al-Qa‘tabî, Hayyar al-afkâr badrî

Figure 14. Tahaphone: Ahmed ‘Ubayd al-Qa‘tabî, Hayyar al-afkâr badrî
  • 53 When British India became independent in 1947, the Indian Rupees were replaced in Aden by the East (...)
  • 54 Another version of this poem was given a decade later by Muhammad ‘Alî al-Dubâshî: URL: http://wad (...)

44One of the records supplies us with an interesting chronological indication: it is called the Poem of the Schilling on lyrics by Masrûr Mabrûk (1911-1992) and sung by Sâleh al-Zabîdî. This record is obviously dated after 1947, because this was the date when the East African schilling became the official currency in Aden instead of the Indian rupie.53 The sung text was a lament against the new currency which had been devaluated against the previous one...54

  • 55 Personal communication of Nizar Ghânim (Muhammed ‘Abduh Ghânem’s son).

45Another record also provides us with a chronological information: entitled Unshûdat al-qubul (The Hymn of Kisses), it is sung by ‘Alî al-Saqqâf on a text of the poet, intellectual and researcher, Muhammad ‘Abduh Ghânim. The record is reported to have been published in 1953.55

46The numberings indicated in the inventory of the Yemeni Center for Musical Heritage (Sanaa) are the following ones: from 0 to 270 sides (not discs). Thus, if the actual number was closer to 300, that would indicate only a maximum of 150 records, which is little, in comparison with Jafferphon or Aden Crown. Out of this inventory, we dispose of 60 records or references. Many musicians had already recorded with the previous companies:

  • Ahmed ‘Ubayd al-Qa‘tabî: Al-Hâshimî qâl sihr al-‘ayn56
  • Fadl al-Lahjî (already recorded by Odeon and Aden Crown): Elzem al-sabr;57
  • ‘Awad ‘Abdallah al-Musallamî (already recorded at Jafferphon): Yaqûl Yahyâ ‘Umar min kam;58
  • Ibrâhim al-Mâs (Odeon, Aden Crown and Jafferphon);
  • Sâleh al-Zabîdî (Jafferphon).

47In the present state of our knowledge, we find only a few new names: ‘Alî al-Saqqâf (from Hadramawt); ‘Abdallah Ahmed al-‘Anza.

48After Jafferphon and Tahaphone, the last local companies will no longer have the same level of production, probably because a certain decline of the 78 rpm discs. But before examining them, we must first look at a very pecular label, Kayaphon.

The Kâyâphon label

49We do not know if this company had a sustainable existence: it seems that it existed only for the edition of the recordings of the Nadwa ‘Adaniyya, a cultural club which was created around 1949 and lasted about a decade. The head of the Nadwa 'Adaniyya was a singer and ‘ûd player called Khalîl Muhammad Khalîl, who was not a professional musician.

  • 59 No sound for this reference for the time being, but some are available in private collections.

50The label bears a drawing of a man playing lute and there is no information about its origins. We do not know either how it was managed, but it was definitely not commercial. The numbers were preceded by the accronym RKO, which meaning is unknown. On the royal blue label (fig.15) with the title: Kalâm al-‘ayn59, the singer's name is not mentioned, but it is known to be Khalîl Muhammad Khalîl. As the head of the Nadwa ‘Adaniyya, Khalîl had a militant view towards the artist's mission, and he thought that the records should not be individualized by the name of the artist.

Figure 15. Kâyâphon: Kalâm al-'ayn by Khalîl Muhammad Khalîl (who is not mentioned on the label)

Figure 15. Kâyâphon: Kalâm al-'ayn by Khalîl Muhammad Khalîl (who is not mentioned on the label)

Arabian South

51This name is obviously modeled on the political form which the British Colony took, from 1959 (and disappeared in 1967 with the Independence), but also, before, to a political party which bore the same name and was created in 1951. Thus, we can date this Company a few years later, between 1951 and 1955. The labels are royal blue, with a camel and a desert landscape and some palaces from the historical towns of Hadramawt (fig.16). In a way, it looks like Kayaphon's label (the blue colour, the graphics based on a drawing).

Figure 16. Al-Janûb al-‘Arabî: Ahmed Shaybân, Bakhalt bi-l-wasl

Figure 16. Al-Janûb al-‘Arabî: Ahmed Shaybân, Bakhalt bi-l-wasl

52Arabian South seems to have been dedicated to the artists from Hadramawt among which Muhammad al-Bâr is one of the most important (no recording available). However, it is necessary to distinguish this artist from his brother, Sheykh ‘Abdallah al-Bâr (1895-1942 or 1947?), who recorded a lot in the 1930s and the beginning of the 40s, but exclusively in Indonesia (country where he lived), at the Odeon company: Billah yâ nôb.60 This was the Odeon branch in Indonesia, not in India (Lambert, Al-Akouri 2019). Muhammad al-Bâr seems to have lived older than his brother, but he too may have recorded in Indonesia.

The Azaziphon company

53This company is probably the last one to have produced 78 rpm discs in Yemen. Its labels are royal blue (again very close to Kayâphon and Arabian South's by their graphics), with a beautiful sailing vessel (fig.17). The artists are mainly from Hadramawt and from Aden.

Figure 17. Azaziphon: ‘Alî Muhammad al-Dubâshî, Fî al-samar yâ mu'annâ

Figure 17. Azaziphon: ‘Alî Muhammad al-Dubâshî, Fî al-samar yâ mu'annâ
  • Muhammad Jum‘ah Khan (1903-1963): Bi-l-ghawânî qalbî muwalla‘.61 This artist having died in 1962, the company had inevitably begun its activities well before (especially as, in his last years, Jum‘ah Khan was ill), probably before 1955. Jum‘ah Khan had recorded before at Jafferphon and Tahaphone, but only a few recordings. Later, he recorded many reel tapes, especially for Radio Aden, and also 78 rpm discs in Kowait (Lambert, Al-Akouri 2019);
  • Muhammad ‘Alî al-Dubâshî (1923-1983), from Aden;
  • Muhammad Murshid Nâjî (1929-2013), one of the founders of the ‘adanî style and representing the new generation (who began to work after the 2nd World War), recorded his first great succes there: Zamân al-sibâ (Azaziphon 117-118),62 what provides us the latest possible landmark for this company.

54Based on the catalogue’s numbers, we currently have in hand an approximate quantitative assesment of what the production was at that time, including the seven largest companies (see Annex 1). The resulting evaluation is between 3000 and 4000 records, but this estimation may be overestimated. This assessment must be nuanced by several factors:

  • for certain companies, some figures seem not realistic. For example, one does not imagine that Arabian South recorded more than one thousand disks. This should minor the quantity of discs actually recorded;
  • we don’t always know if the numbers correspond to discs or to faces of a disc;
  • for certain companies, we have too little or too poor information.

Provisional conclusion

55While the industry of the 78-rpm disks in Yemen was already linked to the world market at that time, these recordings present some special features which are worth to be analyzed. Although the emergence of six local companies in Yemen from the 1930s to the end of the 1950s was late, compared to the Egyptian and Levant companies, it was quite remarkable by its rapidity and adaptability. It had been prepared by the presence of the first two Anglo-German companies, Odeon and Parlophon. The two first local companies, Aden Crown and Jafferphon, were marked by the history of the two families, al-Sâfî and Hamûd who succeeded in replacing them. These records already represented at the time a first appropriation of the recording technique by musicians, technicians, local traders and an audience. Thus, Yemeni music was already heavily involved in local and global dialectics.

56If these twenty-five years between 1935 and 1960 are a crucial and a foundational period in the history of music in Yemen, their current re-discovery makes it possible to build a digital corpus that reflects the urban music of that period, both traditional and in the process of being modernized. 78 rpm records have affected the habits of producing and listening to music, and even some local conceptions of music. This emerging market also led to the birth of very strong regional musical identities, creating competition and emulation between them (Lambert, Al-Akouri 2019: para. 115). Of the six local labels and companies, the two largest ones, Aden Crown and Jafferphon, must receive the highest attention, especially the second one, because of its complex relation to the Second World War. Simultaneously, one should give attention to 78 rpm disks of Yemeni music which were recorded out of Yemen, mainly in Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Kuwayt (Lambert, Al-Al-Akouri 2019: para. 96). However, we urgently need to establish some more chronological benchmarks, because until now, the historical datation remains very volatile (see Annex 2).

57The recent rediscovery of all these recordings by Yemeni collectors who digitized them and made them available on the Internet increases the possibilities of research. Through pooling the data and metadata, we hope to create a participatory dynamic which will help to solve the main problems of dating and more generally to fill the gaps between the data and the metadata. But it also requires the development of a critical methodology, both empirical and informed in the most exhaustive way, in order to contextualize them. The emergence of this massive “digitized patrimonialization” with its anarchic and ephemeral aspects, underlines the need for a kind of re-materialization of this corpus, if only to restore its value in the eyes of the public (see the CD The Masters of the Sanaa Song in the first Musical Recordings in Yemen published by CPMY as part of a UNESCO preservation project in 2009).

58As we look forward for the appearance of new documents, we hope to bridge between this research and the mobilization of oral memory, as well as press articles, in order to better explore this crucial phase of the history of music in Yemen, where it began to be transformed by the advent of sound recording. Such developments can only take place through the organisation of a participatory research on line, involving all music lovers and scholars.

Annex 1: Statistics and estimation of the production the 78rpm records

Company Inventory numbers Number of figures Number of faces Number of disks recorded Number of references in the data base
Odeon 0 to 700 700 700 350 130
Parlophon 89000 to 89060 60 60 10
Aden Crown 0 to 1220?a 1220 or 220? 1220 (or 220?) 160
Jafferphon 0 to 1240 1240 1240 100
Tahaphone 0 to 270 270 270 135 60
Kayaphon thirty? 30 30 2
Azaziphon 0 to 330 330 330 10
Arabian South 0 to 1140 1140?b 1140? 10
Non identified 180
Total 4525 (or 3525?) 700 (approximatively)
a. Among Aden Crown numbers, we have only three of them before no. 1000. So it is possible that these numbers are wrong and that the only effective serie is from 1000 to 1220, i.e. only 220 discs.
b. This number seems huge, and until now, we have only a few of them.

Annex 2: Reconstitution of the chronology of the record companies in Aden (approximative dates)

Company Begining of activity End of activity
Parlophon 1934? 1935?
Odeon 1934? 1937?
Aden Crown 1937? 1940?
Jafferphon (yellow) 1938? 1940?
Jafferphon (Syria) 1940? 1945?
Jafferphon (purple) 1950 (confirmed date) 1949?
Tahaphone 1952? 1954?
Kayaphon 1950? 1955? 
Al-Janûb al-'Arabî 1953?  1958? 
Azaziphon 1955?  1960? 

This article is a reduced version of an article originally published in French (Lambert, Al-Akouri 2019).

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Bibliographie

In Arabic

‘Abdalî Ahmed Fadl al-, (without date), Al-masdar al-mufîd fî ghinâ Lahej al-jadîd (The useful source on the new Lahej Song), Aden: Dâr al-Hamdânî (around 1970).

‘Abduh Ghânim Muhammad, 1980, Shi‘r al-ghinâ ’al-san‘ânî (The poetry of Sanaa Song), Beirut: Dâr al-‘Awda, 2nd edition.

Bâ Wazîr, Sa‘îd ‘Awad, 1961, Al-fikr wa-l-thaqâfa fî al-ta’rîkh al-hadramî (Thinking and culture in Hadramawt’s history), without location.

Bû Mahdî Ahmad, 1984, Al-Musallamî, hayâtuhu wa-fannuhu (Al-Musallamî, his life and his works), Aden.

Ghânim Nizâr ‘Abduh, 1986, Al-juzûr al-yamaniyya li-fann al-sawt al-khalîjî” (The Yemenite roots of the Gulf Sawt), Al-Mâthûrât al-Sha‘biyya (The Popular Heritage), Doha: 4, 9-28.

Husaynî Najd al-, (no date), “Al-fannân al-Sheykh al-marhûm Sheykh ‘Abdallah al-Bâr al-‘Aydarûs al-Daw‘ânî” (The artist al-Sheykh ‘Abdallah al-Bâr), website expired around 2015.

Munay‘am Lutfî Husayn, 2000, Al-ghinâ’ al-lahjî. A‘lâm wa-ahdâth (The music of Lahej. Great names and events), Sanaa: Markaz al-‘Ubâdî li-d-dirâsât wa-l-nashr.

Muršid Nâjî Muhammad, 1958, Aghânînâ al-sha‘biya (Our Popular Songs), Aden: al-Jimahia.

1984 Al-ghinâ al-yamanî al-qadîm wa mashâhiruhu (The ancient Yemenite music and its famous names), Kuwait: Al-Talî‘a Press.

Qâ’id ‘Abd al-Qâdir, 2004, Min al-ghinâ’ al-yamanî. Qirâ’a mûsîqiyya (about Yemenite music), Sanaa: Wizâra al-Thaqâfa wa-s-Siyâha.

Sûrî Khalid al-, 1984, Khalîl Muhammad Khalîl. Hayâtuhu, fannuhu wa-‘asruhu, (Kh.M. Khâlîl, his life, his art and his time), Aden: Dâr al-Hamdânî.

Tha‘âlibî ‘Azîz al-, 2004, Muhammad Jum'a Khân. Al-ughniya al-hadramiyya al-khâlida (M.J. Khân. The eternal song from Hadramawt), Sanaa: Wizâra al-Thaqâfa wa-s-Siyâha.

Tha‘lab ‘Umar, 1984, Muhammad Jum‘a Khân, hayâtuhu wa-fannuhu (M. J. Khân, his life and his works), (without location, probably Aden).

Yâbilî Nagîb al-, 2007, “Taha Muhammad Hamûd”, al-Ayyâm, ‘Adan: 18 november 2007, URL: https://www.alayyam.info/news/368D9MO0-8TOA5M, consulted on 30/04/2019.

In European languages

Chemin-Dupontès Ph., 1838, La Navigation à la vapeur Revue des Deux Mondes, période initiale, vol. 15, p. 686-698.

Gronow P., 1981, “The Record industry comes to the Orient”, Ethnomusicology, XXV-2, p. 251-284. Gronow P., 1996, The Recording Industry: An Ethnomusicological Approach, vol. 500-506, Acta Universitatis Tamperensis. Ser. A, Tamperee Yliopisto, University of Tampere.

Gronow P., Hofer Ch., Wonneberg F. (eds), 2011-2015, The Lindstrom Project: Contributions to the History of the Record Industry (Beitragaege zur Geschichte der Schallplattenindustrie), vol. 3 to 6, Vienna: Gesellschaft fur Hisorische Tontrager.

Kinnear M., 1994, The Gramophone Company’s First Indian Recording 1899-1908, Bombay, London: Popular Prakashan.

Kinnear M., 2000, The Gramophone Company’s Indian Recording 1908 to 1910, Victoria: Bajakhana (reprint on 2005).

Lagrange F., 1994, Musiciens et poètes en Égypte au temps de la Nahda, doctoral thesis, University Paris VIII, URL: http://mapage.noos.fr/fredlag

Lambert J., 1993, “Musiques régionales et identité nationale”, REMMM 67, 1, p. 171‑186, http://www.persee.fr/doc/remmm_0997-1327_1993_num_67_1_1596

Lambert J., 1997, La médecine de l'âme. Le chant de Sanaa dans la société yéménite, Nanterre: Société d'ethnologie.

Lambert J., 2001, “Vol de mélodies ou mécanisme d'emprunt ? Vers une histoire des contacts musicaux entre le Yémen et le Golfe”, Chroniques yéménites 9, Sanaa: Centre français d’archéologie et de sciences sociales, p. 38-47, URL: http://cy.revues.org/document34.html.

Lambert J., Al-Akouri R., 2019, “Patrimonialisation ‘sauvage’ et archéologie industrielle de la musique yéménite. Les premiers enregistrements commerciaux à Aden (1935-1960)”, in Gabry S., Lagrange F. (eds), Annales islamologiques 53, Varia : Matérialisation, dématérialisation et circulations des musiques du Moyen-Orient, xixe-xxie siècles, p. 49-94, URL: https://journals.openedition.org/anisl/5552

Lambert J., Mokrani S. (eds), 2013, Qanbûs, tarab. Le luth monoxyle et la musique du Yémen, Sanaa: Centre Français d’Archéologie et de Sciences Sociales; Paris: Éditions Geuthner (with contributions by d’Hérouville P., Ghânim N., Graebner W., Hilarian L.F, al-Jumâ‘î M., Rault C.).

Lavin G., 2019, (under print) “‘Adaniyyât in Kuwait: Historical Perspectives on ‘Indian Coloring’ in the Tarab Ethos”, in Byl J., Sykes J. (eds), Sounding the Indian Ocean: Musical Circulations in the Afro-Asiatic Seascape.

Racy A.J., 1978, Musical change and commercial Recording in Egypt, 1904-1932, PhD dissertation, Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois.

Serjeant R.B., 1951, South Arabian Poetry and Prose of Hadramawt, London: Taylor's Foreign Press.

Audio-visual

Masters of the Sanaa Song in the first Musical Recordings in Yemen, 2009, Yemen Centre for Musical Heritage, coproduced by the UNESCO and the Centre français d’archéologie et de sciences sociales (CD and text in both Arabic and English).

Les premiers chanteurs des Bilad al-Sham (Early Singers from Bilad Al-Sham) 2014, Amar  3, L’Autre Distribution (four CDs, trilingual booklet; by Kassar K., Sa‘id M., Abbani D., Lambert J., Moussali B.).

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Notes

1 Made by the Imperial Academy of Vienna in 1898, these recordings are kept at the Phonotheque of Vienna.

2 Hans Helfritz, whose recordings mainly in the cities of Marib and Sanaa, are kept at the Sound Archives of the Ethnographic Museum in Berlin.

3 See Annex 1.

4 When Imam Ahmed opened a radio station in Sanaa, in response to the growing influence of Egyptian radio, which timidly started to record some inmusicians on magnetic tapes.

5 Some 45 rpm discs are conserved in the Yemen Musical Heritage Centre.

6 In 2018, these 400 records and others have been stolen from the Yemen Musical Heritage Centre in Sanaa. This was a triggering event that made us feel the urgency to write this article.

7 Actually, the whole collection fo the YCMH has been seriously endangered (see note 9).

8 URL: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=125955240909373, consulted on 01/11/2020.

9 URL: https://www.youtube.com/user/Vintage0Aden, consulted on 01/11/2020.

10 The Song of Sana, or Sanaa Song, al-ghinâ al-sanânî, is the most prestigious genre of traditional music in Yemen. It was developped in the region of Sanaa and its surroundings during many centuries (Lambert 1997).

11 URL: https://www.youtube.com/user/nazboxe, consulted on 01/11/2020.

12 Unfortunately, Najd al-Husaynî recently passed away. His site is not accessible anymore, but the Youtube chain is still working (November 2020).

13 The channel recently closed (May 2020).

14 URL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRUrDZZnAD70ARybWGNtNhg, consulted on 01/11/2020.

15 Odeon Records shellac were produced in India in two phases: (1) 1912-1916, and (2) 1932-38. During the second phase, the company was based in Mumbai and Madras (Gronow 1981, Gronow 1996).

16 Originally from Aden, where he seems to have lived his whole life, Bâ Sharâhîl was one of the last musicians to play the qanbûs, in the San‘ânî style, and one of the very few to be referred to as “sheykh” (Murshid Nâjî 1984).

17 The qanbûs was a monoxyle lute (Lambert, Mokrani 2013). It was the main melodic instrument before the importation of the oriental lute from Egypt at the beginning of the 20th century.

18 Odeon Ad 164: URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtnFbk3hn_A, consulted on 01/11/2020.

19 The son of Mohammed al-Mâs (see below), Ibrâhîm, lived in Aden his whole life. He is by far the most prolific musician (nearly 200 records alone). His style is characterized by an effort of modernization, using the oriental lute with five strings. He also sings some Egyptian songs, such as Mattâ‘ hayâtek.

20 Odeon, Ad. 462-463, URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHQ_S7_z29I, consulted on 01/11/2020.

21 Jafferphone and Tahaphone’s. Ibrâhîm al-Mâs did not record at all at Aden Crown, whereas his father, Mohammed al-Mâs, recorded all his records at Aden Crown. It is quite possible that the son started recording a few years before the father. It is also likely that there was some commercial competition between Odeon and Aden Crown.

22 Unknow dates. This eclectic musician will later record at Aden Crown and Jaaferphon, in diverse regional styles.

23 Odeon Ad 252/253 (no recording available).

24 Ghâbba recorded in most companies, before and after the war (Aden Crown, Jafferphon, Tahaphone), and will even be filmed by the Kuwaiti TV in the early 1960s.

25 No reference number: URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wqk7NujgLQI&list=PLX4xSwKOfFBHYLbaQOeR0yWt3N0NnIsGF&index=2, consulted on 01/11/2020.

26 Considered as one of the founding fathers of the lahjî style, Fadl al-Lahjî was the preferred singer of prince Ahmad Fadl al-‘Abdalî (1881-1943), nicknamed “the Commandant” (al-Qumundân). The latter was the brother of the sultan of Lahj, a historical town close to Aden, and chief of his Army. In his autobiography, he reports that his poems had been sung and recorded by Odeon and Aden Crown (see further).

27 Odeon Ad 566-567 (no recording available).

28 Ad. 342-343 (no recording available).

29 A street in the old district of Crater, the historical center of Aden.

30 But this departure from 1000 is rather strange. Are there some discs with numbers from 0 to 1000? In this case, this would indicate a much wider quantity.

31 According to oral tradition, Mohammed al-Mâs was from Kawkabân, near Sanaa, and fled to Aden at the beginning of the twentieth century, because of religious persecution against musicians (Lambert, Mokrani 2013: 258). Almost nothing else is known about his biography, except his recordings and the career of his son Ibrâhîm.

32 See note 21.

33 Aden Crown 1050, URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTgU35luazs, consulted on 01/11/2020.

34 Sâlih ‘Abdallah al-‘Antarî: a great musician who led a lasting career, but who recorded only a few 78 rpm records. After the war, he will mainly be recorded on magnetic tapes. He died in Sanaa in 1965, under troubled circumstances (Lambert, Mokrani 2013: 244-246).

35 Aden Crown 1018, URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eTV0E4q8xM, consulted on 01/11/2020.

36 Aden Crown 1146, URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cVmOWzOfF0, consulted on 01/11/2020.

37 No recording available. Bilqîs was the name of the ancient Queen of Sheba.

38 An example of a vocal announcement by “Master Hamûd”: Sâlih al-Zabîdî, Yâ rabb asâlek, Jaffephon (no number), URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QCPEfWb9do consulted on 01/11/2020.

39 Jafferphon 508: URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M14NXlhB2v8, consulted on 01/11/2020.

40 The biography of this musician is unknown, but we learn he participated in the Nadwa ‘Adaniyya (Walîd Khalîl Sayf, ‘Adan al-Ghadd, 06/09/2011), so at a date not earlier than 1949.

41 Jafferphon 89: URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3ejaIxFtJg, consulted on 01/11/2020.

42 Jafferphon 15. At present, we do not have of any recording of this musician, but we heard about some from private collections.

43 Born in Aden, this musician was first recorded under his family name, Balâbil.

44 Jafferphon 1083: URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijm_4RMBRBk, consulted on 01/11/2020.

45 This artist begins with Jafferphon and continues with Tahaphone et Azaziphon (see further).

46 Jafferphon 1233. No recording available.

47 Jafferphon 1222: URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwbWpuEljxQ, consulted on 01/11/2020.

48 It should be noted that, on YouTube, the attribution of certain titles to Ahmed al-Jarrâsh is incorrect. One of the reasons is that he was sometimes confused with two other singers with a rather similar voice who also recorded at Jafferphon: ‘Alî ‘Awad al-Jarrâsh, his own brother, and Mohammed ‘Abd al-Rahmân Makkâwî (see below).

49 A well-known musicians family in Aden until today.

50 Currently, the old Yemenite press is not easily accessible.

51 We know very little about this musician (Lambert, Al-Akouri 2019: note 106). But listening to the record seems to indicate that he is playing the qanbûs, and not the oriental 'ûd. If this was verified, it would make it a very interesting case: at the present time, the only Hadrami musician to have been recorded playing this rare instrument.

52 In an interview to the podcast radio Rawdat al-Balâbil (episod 051), the Kuwaytian musicologist Ahmad al-Sâlhî indicates that Ilyâs Finûn (who had also attended the Cairo Congress in 1932), had accompanied some Koweytian and Bahraynian artists who recorded at Sodwa (Sûdwâ) in Aleppo between 1935 and 1938: URL: http://www.amar-foundation.org/051-history-of-recording-in-the-gulf-area-part-2/?lang=ar, consulted on 01/11/2020. Actually, we know very little about the Sodwa company, and we don’t know even if it lasted during World War 2. If it did'nt (which we could verify in a close future), this would confirm us that these atypical Yemenite recordings were made earlier, and this would refute our World War period hypothesis.

53 When British India became independent in 1947, the Indian Rupees were replaced in Aden by the East African Shilling.

54 Another version of this poem was given a decade later by Muhammad ‘Alî al-Dubâshî: URL: http://wadialmarifah.blogspot.com/2013/07/blog-post.html (with a biography of Masrûr Mabrûk) consulted on 01/11/2020. For a later interpretation: URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrUN3tED4pE&list=UURUrDZZnAD70ARybWGNtNhg&index=115, consulted on 01/11/2020.

55 Personal communication of Nizar Ghânim (Muhammed ‘Abduh Ghânem’s son).

56 Tahaphone 9: URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQFaGkha00c&t=24s, consulted on 01/11/2020.

57 Tahaphon (no reference number) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UwwmJOBt5A, consulted on 01/11/2020.

58 Tahaphone 257-258: URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVnggSFPFD4, consulted 01/11/2020.

59 No sound for this reference for the time being, but some are available in private collections.

60 No reference number: URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5ieqnlD0c&index=2&list=PLX4xSwKOfFBHBwPYzMs4rBztGxeT-J7OF&t=0s, consulted on 01/11/2020.

61 Azaziphon 329-330: URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=875kVnFXv3Q, consulted on 01/11/2020.

62 We don't have the original recording.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Odeon, Abû Bakr Bâ Sharâhîl, Yâ man 'atâyâh. Made in Germany
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 208k
Titre Figure 2. Odeon, Abû Bakr Bâ Sharâhîl, 'Azîm al-shân. Made in England
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 587k
Titre Figure 3. Parlophon: Muhammad Sa'îd al-'Adanî, Wa-min ajr leh elf
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 686k
Titre Figures 4-5. Pochettes Istiwânât al-Tâj al-‘Adanî / Aden Crown Record
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 3,5M
Titre Figure 6. Aden Crown Record / Al-Tâj al-'Adanî: Sâlih ‘Abdallah al-‘Antarî, Lâ taqûlan idhâ, ‘adanî. Blue background
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 597k
Titre Figure 7. Aden Crown Record : Ahmed al-Jarrâsh, Yâ fâtinnî. Black background
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 861k
Titre Figure 8. Jafferphon: Muhammad al-Makkâwî, Yâ maqîl al-‘ithâr (yellow phase)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 666k
Titre Figure 9. Jafferphon: Sâleh al-Zabîdî, Majnûn man fâraq habîbuh (purple phase)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 730k
Titre Figure 10. Jafferphon: The “Aleppo” period
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 245k
Titre Figure 11. Taha Muhammad Hamûd, founder of Tahaphone
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 100k
Titre Figure 12. Tahaphone cover. Al-Sayyid Taha Muhammad Hamûd, Al-shâri al-kabîr (High Street), in Aden
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 647k
Titre Figure 13. Taha Store cover, Camp, Aden, Arabia
Légende This shop proposed Philips lamps and radios, discs, His Master’s Voice and Columbia gramophones, Tahaphone and Arabphone disks, GoodYear tires, etc. Publishing weekly new records: Egyptian, Arabic, Indian, Kuwaiti...
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 609k
Titre Figure 14. Tahaphone: Ahmed ‘Ubayd al-Qa‘tabî, Hayyar al-afkâr badrî
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 671k
Titre Figure 15. Kâyâphon: Kalâm al-'ayn by Khalîl Muhammad Khalîl (who is not mentioned on the label)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 789k
Titre Figure 16. Al-Janûb al-‘Arabî: Ahmed Shaybân, Bakhalt bi-l-wasl
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 892k
Titre Figure 17. Azaziphon: ‘Alî Muhammad al-Dubâshî, Fî al-samar yâ mu'annâ
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/13191/img-16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 352k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Jean Lambert et Rafik al-Akouri, « The first commercial recordings of music in Aden (1935-1960) and their “digital patrimonialization” »Égypte/Monde arabe, 22 | 2020, 137-163.

Référence électronique

Jean Lambert et Rafik al-Akouri, « The first commercial recordings of music in Aden (1935-1960) and their “digital patrimonialization” »Égypte/Monde arabe [En ligne], 22 | 2020, mis en ligne le 03 janvier 2022, consulté le 03 février 2023. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ema/13191 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/ema.13191

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Auteurs

Jean Lambert

Dr Jean Lambert is an anthropologist and an ethnomusicologist specialized on Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Lebanon and the history of Arab music. He is currently an assistant professor in the musée de l’Homme (MNHN, Paris, Laboratoire d’Eco-Anthropologie) and an associated researcher in the CREM-LESC (Nanterre University).

Rafik al-Akouri

Rafik al-Akouri is the General Director of the Center for Yemeni Musical Heritage (CYMH, Ministry of Culture, Sanaa), since 2012. Trained as an archivist, he was previously responsible for the musical archives in the CYMH from 2003 to 2011. He was involved in many national and international projects dealing with the preservation of Yemeni music, among which is UNESCO project for the preservation of the Song of Sanaa (2006-2009). He also participated in many Arab and international conferences on the preservation of music and intangible heritage.

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Creative Commons - Attribution - Pas d’Utilisation Commerciale - Partage dans les Mêmes Conditions 4.0 International - CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

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