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The kid can sing.
October 28, 2007 6:36 PM   Subscribe

Five year old boy sings the Koran. So beautiful.
posted by flapjax at midnite (53 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also recommended: Open this clip in 2, 3, 4 windows or more, for a gorgeous polyphonic listening experience.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:39 PM on October 28, 2007


Thanks for the post.

(I have a faint feeling that this thread will become derailed in ways that will make me wince when I check MeFi in the morning, but I really do hope I'm wrong about that.)
posted by Prospero at 6:44 PM on October 28, 2007


Wow. Sign me up for his record club.
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:46 PM on October 28, 2007


Yeah, but does he have a sampler? I didn't think so.
posted by jourman2 at 6:47 PM on October 28, 2007


Wow. That was impressive.
posted by ryanhealy at 6:50 PM on October 28, 2007


Can anyone translate the actual passages he's singing?

As usual, youtube commenters make me shudder with disgust.
posted by Riki tiki at 6:51 PM on October 28, 2007


Amazing. Muezzin recitals are my favorite sound-thing ever.
posted by mykescipark at 7:00 PM on October 28, 2007


That was amazing. And for those who say it isn't, let's compare it to a more typical 5 year old's version, shall we?

P.S. - I'm with DenOfSizer. And I'm really, really hoping I'm wrong.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:02 PM on October 28, 2007


*suddenly craves shawarma*
posted by greenskpr at 7:06 PM on October 28, 2007


I wish he'd kept going. That was great. Thanks.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:28 PM on October 28, 2007


This is lovely.

Please contact me off-list if you want my hand-made ambient recording of the call to prayer from a central square in Istanbul.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:29 PM on October 28, 2007


Please contact me off-list if you want my hand-made ambient recording of the call to discuss how wicked awesome Spiderman is from a comic shop in Sanford, Maine.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:41 PM on October 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Can anyone translate the actual passages he's singing?

YouTube blocked from work... Is it the Koran or is it the call to prayer (azan) that he's reciting?
posted by BinGregory at 7:51 PM on October 28, 2007


Gorgeous.

Holger Czukay's Persian Love, with vocals snatched from late night shortwave broadcasts.
posted by maudlin at 8:18 PM on October 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Please contact me off-list if you want my hand-made ambient recording of the call to discuss how wicked awesome Spiderman is from a comic shop in Sanford, Maine.

Thanks, but we won't be needing any today. Thanks for checking in, though, Curley. Your golden humor is always appreciated!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:26 PM on October 28, 2007


Devotion is beautiful. Innocent faith, sublime. Music, speaks for it self.
posted by nola at 8:32 PM on October 28, 2007


Oh, come on. I could so do that.

Kidding, of course. What an incredible voice. Doesn't sound like any five year old I've ever heard.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:35 PM on October 28, 2007


Holy crap. That was incredible.
posted by facetious at 8:39 PM on October 28, 2007


"Also recommended: Open this clip in 2, 3, 4 windows or more, for a gorgeous polyphonic listening experience."

I like the effect with two windows, 5 seconds apart.

(thanks for the post, reminds me of my childhood in Saudi Arabia where this was the daily television program.)
posted by kolophon at 8:40 PM on October 28, 2007


This makes me feel as if I should be passing a bearded George Clooney on the street.
posted by geoff. at 8:44 PM on October 28, 2007


Thanks for that, flapjax.
posted by ramix at 9:10 PM on October 28, 2007


You Tube also has a subtitled version for those who read French
here.
posted by namret at 9:15 PM on October 28, 2007


That was absolutely stunning. Thanks for posting this.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:22 PM on October 28, 2007


The French version above is very interesting (though I could do without the special effects, dunno if they're on the English version...)

Hope I replied to everyone who asked me or write again...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:35 PM on October 28, 2007


See also:

Madredeus - Preg√£o
posted by Iosephus at 10:01 PM on October 28, 2007


I like the effect of playing two copies four semitones and about twelve years apart.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:23 PM on October 28, 2007


Sorry, five semitones. D'oh.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:26 PM on October 28, 2007


Beautiful. Sublime.


I have never been so afraid to look at the comments for a YouTube video. I won't let them ruin that for me.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:47 PM on October 28, 2007


(Because the issue has been raised a few times above, I gave offer a recommendation that folks grab something like this Greasemonkey script, which removes all comments from YouTube pages. Trust me on this -- without all the commenters, your YouTube experience will improve dramatically)
posted by barnacles at 12:08 AM on October 29, 2007


According to the French subtitles given in the link above, the translation roughly goes like that:

In the name of Allah, The Merciful One,
In the name of the Koran full of wisdom
You (Muhammad) you are indeed among the messengers
on a straight path
It's a revelation granted by the Almighty, the Merciful One
so that you will inform a people whose ancestors hadn't been informed
and is thus carefree
The word has been released upon them : so they wouldn't believe
We will put shackles on their necks, and they will be up to their chins,
so they will walk with their heads upwards
We will put a barrier in front of them and a barrier behind them
We will cover them with a veil so that they won't be able to see anything
It doesn't matter to them that you will inform them or not
They will never believe
You only inform the one who follow the Call (Koran) and fears the Merciful One
In spite of the fact that he doesn't see Him.
Advise him of a merciful and generous reward
We are the ones who raise the dead
and write their deeds (for after life) and their traces
and we have given account of every thing in an explicit register
posted by nicolin at 2:41 AM on October 29, 2007


Just got home from work. That is a wonderful recitation; thanks, Flapjax. The verse is Chapter 36 (Surah Ya Sin), verses 1-12. Nicolin's got the jist of it; The Yusuf Ali translation is more clear in a few parts:

- and is thus carefree - 'is thus heedless'

- The word has been released upon them : so they wouldn't believe

'The word is proved true against the greater part of them for they do not believe'

- We are the ones who raise the dead
and write their deeds (for after life) and their traces


- 'Verily We shall give life to the dead, and We record that which they send before and that which they leave behind...'



(Sacred-Texts.com has the whole chapter, though without footnotes, which are often necessary to appreciate the idioms, context, etc.)
posted by BinGregory at 5:26 AM on October 29, 2007


Very nice—thanks for the post!

a recommendation that folks grab something like this Greasemonkey script, which removes all comments from YouTube pages. Trust me on this -- without all the commenters, your YouTube experience will improve dramatically

I don't understand. Why do you need a script? Just don't read the comments. Works for me.

posted by languagehat at 6:33 AM on October 29, 2007


nola:

Devotion is beautiful. Innocent faith, sublime.

Just to get this straight; the child will have been lied to more or less nonstop in the process of brainwashing him into believing (at his age what must be a subset of) what he is singing.

At the age of 5, there is no possibility that he is in a position to make an intelligent decision about his "faith"; it is indoctrination, pure and simple.

This is "beautiful" in the way that a well-manufactured weapon is "beautiful"; you can appreciate that it is well-executed and that it may serve its purpose admirably, but it is in no way a good thing.

(yes, it is possible that the child is in fact just performing and not actually 'of the faith', but this seems unlikely and certainly isn't what nola was assuming above)
posted by nonlocal at 7:29 AM on October 29, 2007


Also, it's not cute when kids sing Christmas Carols. Or if it is, it's in the way that a well-manufactured weapon is "cute".
posted by hermitosis at 7:48 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


'A well-manufactured weapon,' nonlocal? Not a big fan of music, I suppose?
posted by NationalKato at 7:58 AM on October 29, 2007


Well, we got a good ways before the asshole contingent showed up.
posted by languagehat at 8:14 AM on October 29, 2007


Art and religion...
Nobody has to believe in Greek gods to admire a beautiful statue. I must admit however that the fact that nobody wants me to respect those Greek gods helps me to remain open-minded. Arabic culture has produced beautiful musical masterworks, but the bit about "shackles" is always a hard one to swallow.
posted by nicolin at 9:25 AM on October 29, 2007


That's amazing.

But the kid's older than 5 tho, no? (just comparing him to the guy who adjusts the mic for him - he's not much shorter. Someone in the comments in this link says he's 8)

Still, even if he's 12 or whatnot, really nice.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 11:02 AM on October 29, 2007


yes, beautiful. (speaking as an atheist, and one who is often deeply afraid of what religion is doing to our world.)

i've been exploring a lot about Islam lately. just wednesday last i took three of the kids i help homeschool on a field trip to 1) a zendo and 2) a mosque. the contrast of course was amazing, and since then i've been filling in some of the gaps in my knowledge and musing upon my own feelings about Islam and religious belief. (i'll skip the big part where i'm comparing the obsession with sexuality of both fundamentalist christians and most muslims.)

what i really want to know regarding this recording is whether the tune is improvisational or traditional or some combination of both. i mean, is it a sort of scatting, based on traditional tonation, or is there only one way to sing it?
posted by RedEmma at 11:25 AM on October 29, 2007


hey, I linked this in a thread last year flapjax when I was in a discussion with Burhanistan. I wish he would come back to mefi. B-han, if you are reading this, swallow your pride and start posting again!

(love that Czukay song maudlin:)
posted by vronsky at 11:29 AM on October 29, 2007


I'm with nonlocal on this one. The kid's a good singer, granted, but he's essentially singing about how all non-Muslims should be treated like Guantanamo prisoners.
posted by Reggie Digest at 11:53 AM on October 29, 2007


At the age of 5, there is no possibility that he is in a position to make an intelligent decision about his "faith"; it is indoctrination, pure and simple.

At the age of 5, no one is in a position to make an intelligent (if by that you mean adult) decision about anything.

Therefore... what? Parents should be forbidden from raising their kids in their belief system? Does that go for atheist parents too?

Chill out and try to enjoy the diversity and beauty of human culture. The kid is not a suicide bomber. He's a kid.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:39 PM on October 29, 2007


Chill out and try to enjoy the diversity and beauty of human culture.

You do realize this is completely contradictory to what the kid is singing, right?
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:32 PM on October 29, 2007


what i really want to know regarding this recording is whether the tune is improvisational or traditional or some combination of both. i mean, is it a sort of scatting, based on traditional tonation, or is there only one way to sing it?

There are a couple of different "sciences" that go into what the kid is doing. The first is tajwid or tajweed, which deals with correct pronunciation of Quran, including where to stop and take a breath, which consonants blend into which other consonants and how, how to form your mouth to make sure you're enunciating the letter correctly, etc. It's quite stylized, specific to the Quran, and not something an Arabic speaker would automatically know, much less a non-Arab muslim. There are at least seven schools or styles of tajwid, each with chains of transmission dating back to the first several generations of muslims. In some cases, differences in tajwid can even affect the interpretation of a particular verse. In such cases, each interpretation is considered valid. This site has an example of a single chapter of Quran being recited ten different ways.

The other is tartil or tarteel, melodic or dramatic recitation of the Quran. Of this there are several schools or styles with their own conventions as well. Some are super slow and intense, phrase by phrase, with a lot of doubling back to repeat (codas?). Others are quick and melodic like what the kid was doing. Others are just plain and clear, like what you might use to learn from. But in no case is there "sheet music" for what notes to hit and so on. A muslim would never refer to it as 'singing'. 'Scatting based on traditional tonation' is pretty close to the mark.

I'm not speaking as any kind of expert here, just sharing what little I know. A random googling turned up a pretty nice site on religious music in Egypt, with lots of free mp3s for download. Here's the page on tartil. Egypt is home to many famous reciters including the late Abdulbasit Abdussamad, considered the foremost reciter of his time. You can find tons of clips on YouTube by searching for his name. I can't go to YouTube at work or I'd link to a few.
posted by BinGregory at 6:20 PM on October 29, 2007 [4 favorites]


BinGregory, thanks so much for your enlightening comments and links.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:54 PM on October 29, 2007


thanks for the awesome response, BinGregory.

i really dig that kind of vocalization. totally beats listless lutheran hymns in my book--i spent a childhood listening to those, thankyewverymuch.

i have no problem separating the beauty of music and even spiritual practice from the relative (atheistically speaking) insanity of religious belief or even lyrics. christian rock might suck because it's so derivative and tries so damn hard to be hip. but like gregorian chant or Hildegard von Bingen this is something i could listen to all day. it transcends the belief behind it, IMO, and speaks to a deeper part of the human heart.
posted by RedEmma at 9:21 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Chill out and try to enjoy the diversity and beauty of human culture.

You do realize this is completely contradictory to what the kid is singing, right?


Do you speak Arabic or read the Quran? 'Cuz I'm pretty sure the words this kid is singing probably aren't one tenth as negative as you are assuming. Most muslim prayers are not inherently anti-Christian prayers.

For example, people hear "Allahu akbar," which literally means "god is big" and they assume that it's an anti-Christian statement. But the truth is "Allah" is not a specific muslim god, it's the arabic WORD for god. Even if you are referring to the Christian god, "Allah" is the Arabic name. The word simply means god, not the god of muslims or christians, but the god of any and all people who worship a god. It's the same word... people just want to automatically believe that things are more complex or subversive because xenophobia is, unfortunately, human nature.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:52 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


miss lynnster: Who said anything about Christians? Non-Muslim != Christian. (Heck, as far as I'm concerned, Muslim = Christian.) Who said "Allah" or "Allahu Akbar" was a curse? Nobody.

If you'd read the thread, you'd've found a translation of a translation. In that translation of a translation, you'd've read the lines, "We will put shackles on their necks, and they will be up to their chins, so they will walk with their heads upwards /
We will put a barrier in front of them and a barrier behind them / We will cover them with a veil so that they won't be able to see anything / It doesn't matter to them that you will inform them or not / They will never believe."

All I'm saying is that, assuming that translation is accurate, I just don't find that sentiment at all beautiful; I find it particularly disturbing that it's coming from the mouth of a 5-year-old -- especially such a talented one. (Although IMO, he looks older than five and sounds suspiciously like a grown woman.)
posted by Reggie Digest at 11:19 AM on October 30, 2007


There really should be some sort of tag or other clue that indicates "thread shit on beyond this point".
posted by kjs3 at 12:37 PM on October 31, 2007


...sounds suspiciously like a grown woman.

Isn't that the whole point of boys' choirs?
posted by hermitosis at 1:24 PM on October 31, 2007


Chill out and try to enjoy the diversity and beauty of human culture.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:39 PM on October 29


You do realize this is completely contradictory to what the kid is singing, right?
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:32 PM on October 29


Yes. So what? I can enjoy the beauty of his singing without buying into the ideological content of the song.

Other people's dogmas may be narrow and exclusionary, but this does not require me to be narrow and exclusionary toward them or their art.

Have you ever listened to any old-time gospel or bluegrass songs? Quite a few of them are about how sinners will burn in hell if they don't trust in the power of Jesus. But you don't have to be a Christian or even a theist to enjoy the music.

In fact, most great artworks from human history have been produced in times and/or places other than our own, in which very different cultural and ideological assumptions have held sway, and have shaped the content of the art.

If you have to agree with someone's beliefs in order to appreciate their art, your opportunities for aesthetic enjoyment must be pretty constricted.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:50 AM on November 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Artifice: It seems to me that to claim an appreciation of art regardless of its intended message is to rather miss the point of art.

I see nothing wrong with a little fire and brimstone here and there, since that's all just imaginary. If bluegrass ever advocates physical violence upon the living, however, I'm going to have a problem with that. Prussian Blue play some fairly catchy ditties; does my inability to appreciate their art make me a philistine?

As far as constriction of my aesthetic enjoyment is concerned: Believe it or not, there's actually plenty of great art that doesn't promote hate. Plenty of Islamic art. Plenty of prayers, even.
posted by Reggie Digest at 12:43 PM on November 3, 2007


but he's essentially singing about how all non-Muslims should be treated like Guantanamo prisoners.

RD, I thought at first that you just had a thing against muslims or the Quran in general or things like that. I've learned that arguing with such folk on the internet doesn't get anybody anywhere, so I didn't respond to your earlier comments. My apologies for assuming the worst. But since you have no problem with a little fire and brimstone, and appreciate lots of Islamic art and stuff, and all that is keeping you from enjoying this video is the meaning of this particular verse, which you seem to think deals with how muslims ought to treat nonmuslims, then go on back and enjoy! Because it means no such thing.

First of all, it would be helpful to know something about the nature of the Quran as literature. Unlike the Bible, which is a prose historical narrative for the most part, the Quran is pure poetry with no narrative thread at all. The author is believed to be God, and He is speaking to man in His own words through the text. This is not always apparent because He shifts from 1st person singular to 1st person plural to 3rd person, sometimes within a single verse, to nuance the meaning or the effect. Thus, in the verses you are having a problem with, namely:
We will put shackles on their necks, and they will be up to their chins,
so they will walk with their heads upwards
,
the speaker is God, not the Prophet Muhammad, and certainly not the hordes of muslims in general.

Second point: Nicolin translates these verses in the future tense. This is not accurate actually. I didn't correct it previously for fear of being pedantic. The verses are better translated as
we have put shackles ... up to their chins, etc
So this is not something that will be done or should be done to anybody by muslims, but something that God has already done to those who disbelieve.

What does this mean? Clearly God hasn't put physical shackles on anybody. It is a metaphor not unlike the way we would say in English that someone is blinkered or has blinders on. The refusal of the unbeliever to believe (to accept guidance) results in their path or vision being narrowed. They will walk with their heads upward = Their unbelief makes them stiff-necked. The reference to the veil doesn't mean muslims must cover unbelievers' hair (Hijab, Yikes!) but that the sinner is like a blind person in that he does not see or appreciate the final consequence of this actions. And so on.

To understand how the consequences of the sinner's actions can be attributed to God (We have put etc.) would require going into the Islamic distinctions between free will and predestination, which is a whole 'nother discussion and not necessary for you to go back and enjoy the recitation.
posted by BinGregory at 6:41 AM on November 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


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