Another song from Salim Halali’s repertoire is “Rimoun Rametni,” a classical Andalusian song.1 The original likely dates back to the Middle Ages and celebrates the peoples of al-Andalus, who, according to the chorus, “know about poetry.” And indeed, it seems both the Jews and Muslims of al-Andalus contributed to the creation, transmission, and development of the poetic nubas cycle, the classical canon of Andalusian music. The Jews of al-Andalus sang the nubas in the original Arabic, but also created new lyrics transposed from an old canon of Hebrew poetry and liturgy. They sang a hybrid music.
Al-Ala, the music of al-Andalus, has always been present in my family. It was a sort of familiar hum in our lives and rituals. All Moroccan liturgy is based on Ala—from Baqashot, to Shabbat prayers, to the music of the High Holidays. The tones of the nubas make up the texture of our relationship to the sacred. They are also the classical foundation from which North African popular music sprang in the last century, and the source from which energy flows into each and every song of this folio.
Of all these songs, “Rimoun Rametni” is closest to the source itself. This song has been sung over the centuries in its original Arabic version, as well as in Hebrew; it speaks to the ways both Jews and Muslims across al-Andalus created music that moved between modes, and traveled from generation to generation.
- I’m grateful to Dr. Samuel Torjman Thomas, director of the New York Andalus Ensemble, who taught me this song.
- Marks, Essica. “Andalusian Nuba.” Jewish Music Research Centre.