A Reflection of Yemeni Tradition in the International Circles: Yemeni Popular Musical Instruments [Archives:1999/41/Culture]

October 11 1999

Saleh Abdulbaqi
Cultural Editor
Yemen Times
A number of governorates have still used the traditional musical instruments. These instruments are being used in the occasions of marriage. They are inherited by ancient grandfathers. The wind pipe is made from sugarcane. It is known by ‘Al-Nai’. The other kind of these musical instruments are drums. We have the big drum, which is known by ‘Al-Hajer’ or the small drum, which is also known by ‘Al-Marwas’. The famous wind pipe in Tehama areas is the one which has five holes. The famous drum is called ‘Al-Marfa’a’.
In spite of the humility of these popular musical instruments, they formed a traditional rhythm to our national culture. They also gave a new form to our folk and plastic arts. Yemeni singers have taken their rhythm from these instruments. They have created the contemporary face of Yemeni originality. We find that the Yemeni traditional rhythm is commonly used in the Arab World.

Yemeni People should not ignore the value and the importance of these traditional instruments. We should give them interest, and put the artistic touches on them. I discovered the faults of Yemeni orchestra as I participated in ‘Rafena’ festival in Italy. But the Yemeni orchestra has presented a good show through its participation abroad. However, our popular orchestra is being admired by all counties where it participated on. In addition to this, the traditional dresses are distinguished.
Through this conclusion, I will deal with one of these popular instruments, which is still being used in Tehamah. We really feel proud of these musical instruments because they reflect the originality of popular tradition in Yemen. I have been well known about this instrument through one of the bandsmen of the orchestra in Zabeed town in Tehamah. It is an important instrument in the popular band in our country. It is the drum or the ‘Al-Marfa’a.
Obaid Zeid is one of the most famous drummers in Tehamah. Drum is also one of the oldest instruments, 
which had appeared since the beginning of the Tehamian folk arts. The tune of drum and wind pipe makes a beautiful sound. These instruments are different from the other instruments in Yemen. Tehamian society are being distinguished since the ancient periods by its special popular instruments which are still being used. Al-Marfa’a’ is made from the burnt mud. It takes the crescent shape, and has a big upper hole. Its height is between 35- 40 Cm.. It is covered with a strong leather, which gives it a special musical tune. This tune does not differ from the ‘Al-Teck’ or the ‘Al-Bongiz’, which are being used in the Arab orchestras. The drum is being beaten by long sticks. They are made from nabk tree. The drum and the ‘Al-Marfa’a’ form a musical harmony while playing out. These musical instruments are being used in marriage occasions. they are very important for folk dancing. These rhythmical instruments formed an artistic path through our Yemeni popular arts in particular, and as a standard of Yemeni civilization in general. I hope that cultural sector in Hoddedah should pay attention for Tehamian popular orchestra, and give the opportunity to participate in the national and international occasions.