Friday, 28 May 2010

8

The ramblings of a common heritage? When going to Üsküdar; "Fel Shara" on a Jewish Shabbat and "I protest my love to you, O! Allah"

  • Friday, 28 May 2010
  • Fouad GM
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  • The Spanish band Mediterránea is based in Seville, the capital of Andalucía and produce musical masterpieces rediscovering, unearthing and sometime blending the Jewish, Arabic, Islamic, Sufi, Mudéjar and other influences on Andalucía and the Mediterranean in their music.

    Here they play and sing "Üsküdar'a giderken" (meaning "When going to Üskudar").


    Üsküdar was a city on the Asian side of the Bosphorus
    opposite ancient Constantinople/Istanbul. Now, it's one
    of its large and overcrowded, yet beautiful municipalities.

    The tune associated with this song is a traditional Sephardic tune from the Jewish heritage of Arabo-Islamic Andalucía dating back some eight centuries ago. The tune made its way into the Islamic, Sufi and even nationalist numerous countries in the world. I personally heard Sufi chants in Cairo as well as a song from the nationalist heritage (early 1900s) of Egyptian played to these tunes. I also introduced the Sufi chant (and hence the tune) to the Sufi Tekje in Blagaj (near Mostar, Bosnia) during a Sufi dhikr session in the mystical Tekje.

    Another version (accessible here) is a Sufi chant by the UK-based Syrian band, Shaam, who sing "Kolama Ashku Gharami" (As Long As I Protest My Love For You). The video shows the lyrics (accompanied by a translation) of the Qasida which are also available below.

    Another version is also sang in Turkish by Katibim Medley who sing it with intermittent explanations in English (and a few "Orientalist" comments).

    The tune however continues to be part of Sephardic and Jewish tradition. An Ashkenazi version was featured in "A Jewish Odyssey", an album published by Putumayo World Music in 2000. In it, KlezRoym sing Fel Shara (Sacred Shabbat) in a melange of Spanish, French, English, Arabic and Yiddish. It can also be found on YouTube.

    (PS: From the lyrics I can understand, this song seems to me more of a melange of words from different languages than the actual or original lyrics to the Jewish/Yiddish song.)

    A Jewish Odyssey
    The original Sephardic (Hebrew) version of the song can hardly be found online, but I came across a rare recording of it sang by Sephardic Jews in a Synagogue in Israel which I'll try to upload to my YouTube channel if the providers agree to that.

    Below are the lyrics to both the Turkish (sang by Mediterranea) and the Yiddish (sang by KlezRoym)versions of this historic song. The Turkish version comes with a translation to English. Hope you enjoy.

    Lyrics: Üsküdar'a gideriken, by Mediterránea



    Üsküdar'a gider iken aldi da bir yağmur
    (When going to Üsküdar, rain started)

    Katibimin setresi uzun eteği çamur
    (My scribes’ coats are long, his skirt is muddy)

    Katip uykudan uyanmış gözleri mahmur
    (The scribe has woken up from sleep, his eyes are cloudy)

    Katibime kolalı da gömlek ne güzel yaraşır
    (The scribe is mine, and im the scribes, hands will mix)

    Katibime kolalı da gömlek ne güzel yaraşır
    (How much it suits my scribe to have a starched collar)

    Üsküdar’a gider iken bir mendil buldum
    (On the way to Üsküdar I found a kerchief)

    Mendilimin içine lokum doldurdum
    (And I filled the kerchief with lokum (Turkish delight candy))

    Ben yarimi arar iken yanımda buldum
    (When I looked for my helper, I found him at my side.)

    Katip benim ben katibin el ne karışır
    (The scribe is mine and I'm the scribes and hands will mix)

    Katibime kolalı da gömlek ne güzel yaraşır
    (How much it suits my scribe to have a starched collar)


    Lyrics: Fel Shara, by KlezRoym



    Fel Shara canet betet masha
    la signorina aux beaux yeux noirs
    como la luna etait la sua facia
    qui eclairait le boulevard

    Volevo parlar shata metni
    because her father was a la gare
    y con su umbrella darabetni
    en reponse a mon bonsoir

    Perche' my dear tedrabini
    kuando yo te amo kitir
    and if you want tehebini
    il n'y a pas lieu de nous conquerir

    Totta la notte alambiki
    et meme jusqu'au lever du jour
    and every morning ashtanaki
    pour le voue de notre amour...


    Lyrics: Talama Ashku Gharami, by Shaam


    Hadha qalbi Ya Ilahi, Hadha qalbi Ya Ilahi
    (Ya Allah this is my heart, ya Allah this is my heart)
    Hadhi hi ruhi Ya Ilahi, Hadhi hi ruhi Ya Ilahi
    (O Lord, This is my soul, O Lord, This is my soul)
    Yuhibuka Ya Rab, Yuhibuka Ya Rab
    (ya allah they both Love you)
    Wa yuhibu nabiyakal kareem
    (and Love your generos Prophet)

    Chorus:
    Talama ashku gharami ya nural wujood
    (as long as i protest my love to you, O! light of existance)
    Talama ashku gharami ya nural wujood
    (as long as i protest my love to you, O! light of existance)
    Wa unadi ya tihami ya madinal jud
    (and i keep Calling "O! Tihami" (Prophet Mohammed), the kind, the generous)

    Mun yati aksa marami ahza bish-shuhood
    (My hope, The utmost aim is your audience on the Day of Judgement)
    Mun yati aksa marami ahza bish-shuhood
    (My hope, The utmost aim is your audience on the Day of Judgement)
    Wa ara babas-salaami ya zakil judood
    (and to see Bab Al-Salaam O! guider of our forefathers to Islam)

    Chorus

    Ya tirazal kawni inni aashiq mustahaam
    (O' my Brothers, iam a lover, I am infatuated)
    Mugramun wal madhu fani ya badrat-tamaam
    (a criminal in it [love], and praise is the salvation of the mortal)

    Chorus

    Isrifil aa raada anni adnanil ghraam
    (O! Angel Israfil, what a Death! Love has exhausted me)
    Isrifil aa raada anni adnanil ghraam
    (O! Angel Israfil, what a Death! Love has exhausted me)
    Fiqa qad ahsantu zanni ya samil uhood
    (In you I have mastered suffering, O! loyal of the promises)

    Chorus

    Ya sirajal ambiyaa-i ya aalil janaab
    (O! Light of all Prophets, O! high-ranking and precious [Muhammad])
    Ya sirajal ambiyaa-i ya aalil janaab
    (O! Light of all Prophets, O! high-ranking and precious [Muhammad])
    Ya imaamal atqiyaa-i inna qalbi zaab
    (O! Imam of the devout, my heart has dissolved)

    Chorus

    Wa alaykal-lahu salla Rabbi zul jalaal
    (O! Muhammad, upon you, my magnificent Lord has bestowed peace)
    Wa alaykal-lahu salla Rabbi zul jalaal
    (O! Muhammad, upon you, my magnificent Lord has bestowed peace)
    Yakfi ya nural ahillah inna hajri taal
    (O! light of existance ya Allah, enough, for abandonment has been too long)
    Yakfi ya nural ahillah inna hajri taal
    (O! light of existance ya Allah, enough, for abandonment has been too long)

    Allah Hu Allah (repeat)

    8 Responses to “The ramblings of a common heritage? When going to Üsküdar; "Fel Shara" on a Jewish Shabbat and "I protest my love to you, O! Allah"”

    Sofian Rahmani said...
    2 January 2011 at 10:55

    Amazing article! Have you watched the documentary they made about this song?

    Also, did you upload the Sephardic version?


    Gerry said...
    29 August 2011 at 23:05

    I don't think there's any Yiddish in the KlezRoym recording. There's Italian, French, English, Arabic, and Ladino.


    Meagan said...
    7 January 2012 at 20:43 This comment has been removed by the author.

    Meagan said...
    8 January 2012 at 13:10

    Did you ever receive permission to post the Sephardic recording? I'd love to hear it. Looking forward to watching "Whose is this song?" ...Thanks for the information!


    Albert said...
    24 August 2012 at 23:38

    I am a sephardic jew who was born in Egypt and who lives now in New York, I grew up speaking Ladino and our version of this song started with these words: "Salonique entero yo lo camini ya madama para buscar una bella donna ...". Have you heard this version and could you add it to your site on You Tube? Thank You. Albert


    Unknown said...
    12 September 2016 at 09:03 This comment has been removed by the author.

    Najam Haq said...
    25 October 2016 at 05:20

    Just goes to show, a catchy tune will transcend everything else humans obsess over.


    Gabe said...
    30 October 2016 at 17:51

    This song has been all over the place- throughout the balkans, Iraq, all the way to Bangladesh and Malaysia. The 'ashkenazi' version that I know of is a 1920s recording by Naftule Brandwein, titled "Terk in America"- but who knows where that's from. Maybe it made its way into Moldova/Ukraine, or maybe Naftule picked it up from the local greek immigrant community.


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