Why Traditional Music 
What we do
Music at Risk
Past activities
Current and future activities
ECCA-Makan Residences

Why Traditional Music

    Because the value of cultural diversity to the human community, like the value of biological diversity to continued life on this planet cannot be underestimated. As the world shrinks, dominant ideologies, religions and cultural expressions overwhelm the margins and we lose essential elements of the creative process-our appreciation of difference, our freedom to choose, to experiment and to dream of alternatives.

If we continue to allow the erosion of our cultural forms, soon there will be no place to visit and no place to truly call home.
Alan Lomax

    Because to make music is human and we are all part of the human community.

ECCA aims to record and present traditional music and musicians in Egypt as vibrant and renewable cultural resources that bridge Mediterranean and sub-Saharan African cultures. ECCA further encourages efforts to re-awaken the multi-layered complexity of Egyptian culture of music and arts, to return the music to the critical role it has played in the daily life and imagination of the Egyptian people, to counter the trend to isolate it from its original communities, to share this rich resource with the world community and, by presenting it in new contexts to encourage perception of this music as a resource for creativity.

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What we do

our vision for community translates into the following actions: 

1- Systematically recording, documenting and archiving current practice so as to make it available to scholars, musicians and to an increasingly broad-based audience. ECCA has developed a data base of archived material, using software specially developed for that purpose. 

Additionally, ECCA is developing its documentation policy in support of an ethical code that negotiates with performers as respected individuals having names and rights. .

    2- Providing increased and diverse performance possibilities for its practitioners, thereby expanding the audience for this tradition, renewing the lively performer-audience relationship and increasing performers' opportunities for financial sustainability. 
ECCA's commitment to high technical standards of documentation, whether photographic, film or audio recording, also facilitates the distribution of material beyond local audiences to television stations, festivals and photo exhibitions. 

    3- Promoting an audio aesthetic that respects the integrity of the instruments and voices, an alternative to the aesthetic that imposes echo, reverb and other effects dominating the popular market. 

    4- Organising encounters among a range of performing artists (musicians, poets, dancers, storytellers), as well as sound, video and light technicians involved in the performing arts, bringing them together in the context of workshops, rehearsals, facilitating their participation in festivals or just socialising. Makan offers these artists and technicians the basic and necessary infrastructure, together with an ambiance and spirit that can inspire the creation of new forms and traditions as a strategy for self-sustainability
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  &nbsp5- Expanding its already substantial network of contacts in order to further cooperation and the establishment of partnerships with a wide range of cultural organisations and scholarly institutions from all over the world. 

ECCA is already active in mentoring and facilitating the work of students who are pursuing ideas for research in the field of traditional Egyptian music 
ECCA will continue to build on its activities and strategies to promote creative dialogue among people and cultures and to encourage perception of these traditions as important and critical to the human community. 

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Music at Risk

Traditional Egyptian music is increasingly in danger of being relegated to the status of an exotic tourist curiosity, a showcase of national identity or a place on the shelves of academic archives, all of it far from the daily lives of its dwindling practitioners. A complex dynamic of increasing access to media music, video clips and advertising music serves to marginalize traditional music as, at best, exotic and nostalgic (to be resurrected once a year during Ramadan) and, at worst, backward and irrelevant to life in the prestigious fast lane.

Traditional arts…"a shared experience that links [people] not to the undifferentiated mass audience that television courts, but to a particular, sharply delineated group of men and women who grew up in circumstances probably very much like their own, who respond to the [art] not just as entertainment but as a vital part of their lives". 
Peter Guralnick "Lost Highway"

Local religious vocal traditions are also increasingly marginalized by an expanding local sensibility that perceives the Saudi sound as more religiously pure and relevant. The many changes affecting post-revolutionary Egypt, such as successive post-revolution state policies in Egypt, the increasingly local and widespread use and access to the internet and to satellite media, as well as the increased polarization of religious and cultural identities and of global and regional politics, have significantly influenced Egyptians' perceptions of cultural and national identity, their sense of community and their expectations of progress, modernity and participation in the global community. As in many societies striving to balance their history and traditions with their desire to join the world community, the impact of this on culture and, especially, on traditional cultural life in Egypt has led to the undervaluing of traditional culture.
Moreover, increased grassroots support for conservative movements and for their effective community and political agendas, the presence of local and international corporate business interests, changes in trade and agricultural patterns, emigration of Egyptian workers and the rise of the wealthy and young middle class all work at cross purposes to suppress cultural expression. 

folk art…is based on the aesthetic perception, expression and the appreciation of the community adventures of everyday life…
Barre Toelken

Whether this suppression is a response to local religious sentiment or to favour and imitate global media culture as an expression of progress, the result is that Egypt's rich and diverse cultural heritage is at risk.

Local and traditional culture of any sort does not Government institutions in Egypt pay little attention to traditional arts, except as they serve a nostalgic and touristic public. In the field of musical arts, for example, the majority of troupes performing in official theatres, cultural centers, hotels and tourist boats and are self-consciously "folkloric": the performers, dressed in colour-coordinated costumes, dress up the music and dance with showy effects. Local and traditional culture of any sort does not figure in any school curriculum: where there is a music curriculum, for example, it consists of memorizing childrens' songs in preparation for the annual concert or of learning classical Western music notation and instruments. As a result, children learn to dismiss their own musical heritage in favour of Western music. This bias has been adopted by official institutions, as well as by much of the educated class. 
As for the music industry, private commercial businesses are interested in light, profit-oriented works produced with the aim of selling as many and as cheaply-produced cassettes as possible. While the pop/media music industry may make use of traditional instruments, it is rarely a thoughtful appreciation of the particular qualities of a particular instrument nor of its original cultural context. 
The economic problems of the country are also counterproductive to the aims of establishing a vibrant cultural scene and of actively pursuing current intellectual and artistic issues and developments. Like the average citizen, the traditional artist faces increasing financial pressures over the past years making the transmission of tradition no longer economically viable.

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Past activities

Documentation and Archiving: 
-established a photo archive of musicians 
-more than 25 hours of audio/video recording and archiving of material from -Upper     Egypt (Nubian Fadjika, Nubian Kenouz , Arab El-'Uqaylat and Jaafra) and more than     30 hours of audio/video recording and archiving of material of the Zar music and chants (the three styles: Sa'idi/Masri, Sudani and Abou El-Gheit)
-received the personal collection of Dr. Mohamed Omran's field recordings of Gypsy music in Egypt
-more than 15 hours of audio/video recording of wind instrument (makers and performers)
-more than 20 hours of religious vocal music
-more than 20 hours of vocal music of the Delta and Alexandria

Successful residencies and workshops were implemented, bringing together Zar and Nubian musicians with visiting musicians, among them, Toma Sidibe and his band, 15 days; Bumcello (duo), 12 days; Gnawa Diffusion (rencontre); Gerard Haze (electronic music), eight one-day dance classes with Austrian-American and Canadian teachers, groups of students from Swedish colleges (Fridhem and Tomelilla Folhoegskolan) 

Heba Farid - with ECCA: Naima al-Masriya project, reconstructing the work and life of the once famous, but nearly forgotten Egyptian singer Naima al-Masriya, who performed in the region in the first decades of the last century. ECCA facilitated the research of two scholars from the Universit 

ECCA facilitated the research of two scholars from the University of Lyons, France (Roselyne Burger, Institut d'Edudes Politiques de Lyon-"L'Adaptation des Musiques Traditionnelles Populaires a la Scene et la Conservation du Patrimoine Vivant en Egypte: Reflexion sur l'Introduction de la Musique Rituelle du Zar dans le Projet Culturel de l'ECCA") and the University of Naples Frederico II, Italy (Giuseppina De Angelo-"Thesis on the Zar Cult from an Ethnomusicological Perspective"). 

A number other scholars, students and musicians have made contact with ECCA on their arrival in Egypt and visit the center for advice and contacts and to use the recording facilities. 

Performances and events: 

-120 musical performances at Makan, El Sawy, Opera House, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, including some private parties and a wedding in the Delta that offered an alternative to the usual media music. 
- Fiesta Del Mar, Alexandria, a musical event bringing together Egyptian and European musicians, on the occasion of the launching of the Anna Lindh Foundation 
- photo exhibition, Italian Cultural Centre, Cairo 
-Mazaher Ensemble performed at "Voix de Femme" Festival in Brussels (2005), at Tropen Museum in Amsterdam, "Frauenmusik" Festival in Germany and at "La Notte della Taranta" Festival in Puglia, Italy (2006) 
-Cooperation with Music Production Workshop, Bibliotheca Alexandria (Hussein Sami, April 2006) 

ECCA is in contact with many arts organizations, funders and networks, (including the creation of an e-group egyptmusicnetwork@yahoogroups.com), such as Arab Artists Resources and Training; Arab Music Retreat; Confluences Mediterranee; Prof. Michael Frishkopf-Associate Director, Canadian Centre for Ethnomusicology and Multimedia, FolkwaysAlive! University of Alberta, Canada (archive and research); Young Arab Theatre Fund (YATF), Art Moves Africa Fund (AMA), International European Theatre Meeting (IETM). The organization has made contacts and links with Smithsonian Folkways Recordin, the British Library Sound Archive, ECCA is a member of the Society for Ethnomusicology (an international, US-based institution) and the Arts Council (a forum for independent arts institutions in Cairo). Participation in YATF/IETM organized meeting in Tangiers (March 2006) for Directors of independent spaces in the Arab World has further expanded networking opportunities. Cooperation with the Danish Center for Cultural Development (DCCD) was launched at a meeting in Amman, Jordan (May 2006). 

Audio Output: 

- Mozart Egyptien (1 & 2), Virgin Classics Ltd. 
- Ensemble David, Coptic liturgies. Institut Du Monde Arabe, Paris, France.
- La Chadhiliyya, Sufi chants from Cairo. Institut Du Monde Arabe.
- Ganoub, Musique et Chant de la Haute Egypte. Naïve, France. 
- Belphegor, Le Fantome Du Louvre. Warner Music France. 
- Novalia, Canti & Briganti, CNI, Italy. 
- Mazaher (Zar music)
-Fiesta del Mar, Anna Lindh Foundation
-Demo compilation of fieldwork recordings

Cassettes distributed in local shops for the Egyptian popular market
              El Wadaa: Salma el Assal - Sudanese
              Ballaja: Hassan el Soghaiar - Nubian
              El Genena: Sayed Rekaby - Jaafra tribe from Aswan

- Jaaafra and Arab El-'Ukaylat (music of the Arab tribes of Aswan)
- Abou Attalla (Hassan Abou el Gheit Zar style - men only)
- Musiqa wa Adwar al Zar (Music of the Zar - Egyptian style, women only )
- Al Musiqa w-al Fana' Al Nuba (Nubian music)
- DVD demo compilation of fieldwork recordings, including Mozart Egyptien 

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Current and future activities

2006 Field Research, Documentation and related Workshops
ECCA is focusing on three areas of research:

1-wind instruments (arghoul, mizmar, settawiyya, kawala), their performers and makers. ECCA proposes to produce five archival recordings of these endangered instruments. To encourage and support the transfer of knowledge ECCA will bring the very few remaining skilled performers together with students in a workshop context. In addition, ECCA will bring these musicians together with other musicians working in a wide range of musical styles. Finally, ECCA will support the process of making the instruments and produce a film which documents both the lives of the musicians and the making of their instruments.

On a recent field trip, ECCA staff found their way to an arghoul maker.
The arghul, an ancient double clarinet characterized by two pipes of unequal length, is almost exclusive to Egypt and can be traced back to Pharaonic times as it is exactly depicted on wall paintings of the temples of the third dynasty.
Today, the future of the arghul is at risk as there are no more than three or four players in all of Egypt. The discovery of this instrument maker is, therefore, of significant importance to the work of ECCA.

2- vocal music of the Delta and Alexandria. ECCA proposes to produce one CD and one documentary film from their more than 20 field recordings, continue with fieldwork and with the presentation of concerts of the ballads and celebratory songs of these regions to general and specialized publics 

3-religious vocal music (inshad, madih, zikr, tawashih and religious narratives). 
ECCA proposes to make 20 archival recordings, present 20 concerts to general and specialized publics, produce one CD and one documentary film of this material. On a recent field trip, ECCA staff identified a religious singer who, now, performs only at weddings. His repertoire is extensive and he is a significant resource. His wife also sings religious music. He is now working with ECCA staff.

Workshops and audio output: 
-with the Italian ensemble Novalia 
- with Bumcello (France)
- with Banda Piccola Icona (Italy)
- Egyptian Mozart 2, recordings and live concerts
- with Raffaelo Simeoni band (Italy)
- program of workshops to creatively introduce local music to schoolchildren (in planning)
Publication: "Music of Egypt's Gypsies" by Dr. Mohamed Omran
Collaborations: sending Amin Shahin (arghoul) and Ragab Sadeq (tabla) to the UK to participate again in the play, "The Constant Prince" in Oxford (July 2006) 
Workshop, production: sending El Sayed Ramadan (rababa) to Denmark for a DCCD residency and production workshop program (August 2006)
Weekly musical evenings: every Tuesday and Wednesday at Makan, 9 pm 

International performances 
Mazaher at "La Notte della Taranta" (August 2006). 
Egyptian Mozart in St. Petersburg, Moscow, (October, 2006) 
Sheikh Sayed El Mougi -Religious vocal music at the Institute of the Arab World, Paris, (Ramadan 2006) 

Downtown Residences

Located conveniently next to the Makan performance space in the heart of Cairo, Makan has two new residences, Saad Zaghloul flat and Hussein Hagazy flat, that can be used by visiting artists, musicians, scholars, exchange students, journalists or other guests of Makan.
The Saad Zaghloul residence is conveniently located next door to Makan and is just one block from the metro line. The residency has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, a balcony, and a kitchen. It also comes fully equipped with a washing machine, telephone, and internet. 
The Hussein Hagazy residence is located on the street behind Makan at 8 Hussein Hagazy street. Both residences are less than ten minutes from Tahrir Square and AUC's old campus. Both residences are perfect for those wanting to enjoy the center of city life in Cairo while working with Makan. 

El Fayoum Residence 
Those working with Makan are invited to stay in the Fayoum residence located in Tunis village. It is a fully furnished house with seven rooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen and overlooks the beautiful Lake Qaroun. It provides the perfect space for those hoping to conduct field work. 

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