In Arabic Music, the mawwāl (Arabic: موال; plural: mawāwīl, مواويـل) is a traditional and popular Arabic genre of vocal music that is very slow in beat and sentimental in nature, and is characterised by prolonging vowel syllables, emotional vocals, and is usually presented before the actual song begins. The singer performing a mawwal would usually lament and long for something, such as a past lover, a departed family member or a place, in a wailing manner.
Mawwal is an Arabic word that means "affiliated with", "associated with," or "connected to". The verb is waala. It is measure 3 of the root verb "Walia", which means to follow, be affiliated with, support, or sponsor. Originally the verbal noun has a Yaa in the definite form but it loses it when the word is indefinite.
In Egypt, the traditional home of Mawwawel ("plural of Mawwal") the musicians of Mawawil play the rabab (a double-stringed spike fiddle made from half of a coconut shell covered with fish skin and a bow strung with horse hair), the kawala (an end-blown, oblique flute with six holes) and the arghoul (an ancient double clarinet characterized by two pipes of unequal length. The second pipe serves as a drone and can be lengthened by adding pieces. The player uses the technique of circular breathing to produce an uninterrupted sound). The arghoul can be traced back to Pharaonic times as it is exactly depicted on wall paintings of the temples of the third dynasty. Amin Shahin is one of the few remaining arghoul players in Egypt, since the death of arghoul master, Moustafa Abd al Aziz in 2001.
Mawwal is sung by powerful singers who are able to demonstrate strong vocal capabilities. The most famous singers come from Lebanon in specific, Sabah, Wadih El Safi and Fairouz. Nowadays, some of the most famous and strongest singers that can sing mawaweels are Najwa Karam and Wael Kfoury.
Due to geographical proximity to the Arab world, Assyrian musicians may also implement Mawwal in their work. Albert Rowel Tamras and Adwar Mousa, who are from Iraq and Syria, respectively, are such examples who use this art form in their music. In many forms of Assyrian music, Mawwal is performed as an intro for an upbeat song, such as those in the rhythm of bagiyeh/peda.
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