Trumpet, the First Musical Instrument in the Southern Arabian Peninsula [Archives:2001/22/Culture]

May 28 2001

Saleh Abdulbaki
Yemen Times
Brass bands play an important role in the present time. Their importance stems from their use in receiving honorable guest of presidents, kings and top officials. They are also used in national festivals. They have had a special musical function. In Yemen they also perform some Yemeni folklore which stir passion and enthusiasm of the audience. These musical bands were not known until the Quaiteih Sultanate in Hadramout entitled the establishment of the first national band.
In the past, Hadramout used to be divided into two Sultanates: al-Quaiteih, otherwise known as Hadramout al-Sahel, whose capital is Mukala and the Qatheiriah Sultanate, otherwise known as Hadramout al-Dakhel, which Sayoon is its capital. Western musical instruments were not available during the time. This made the ruler Awadh bin Mohammed al-Quaiti pass orders to establish the first elementary musical band called al-Turambitah which is composed of four popular trumpets and two drums. The band was to participate in the national festivals of the al-Quaiteih Sultanate. Band members were from Hadramout headed by Faraj Abdulnasir. The band was affiliated to the Quaiti army. The band also participated in the festivals of the Britaish Monarch, King Gorge IV’s accession to the throne. The festivals were held in India in which Turambitah took part. It was highly applauded by the Indians. It was the strangest band in the festival. When Sultan Ghaleb bin Awadh came to power, he added another musical band composed of western instruments, played by Indian musicians. Haidar Abad headed by Donside Khan. The second band used to play Indian and western music while the first one played Arab music. The two bands remained affiliated with the army and took parts in national festivals. However, the first band was replaced by the second band upon the death of the ruler Omar. A number of youths from Hadramout, including the late great artist Mohammed Joma’ah Khan, Abeed Salem Ba Essa, Awadh ba Hassan, etc., joined the band at the age of 15 for 3 riyals as a monthly salary. After 27 years in the band, he was promoted to lead the band. Then he was the head until the reign of the ruler Saleh Bin Ghaleb who showed interest in the band and supported it. Only then Juma’ah retired and a new leader from al-Benjab came. Lots of resources were granted to the band to improve its performance. Donside Khan used western instruments including the trumpet. He, furthermore, trained many youths the basics of reading the musical notes. This was the first time the musical note was used in Hadramout. The band was the most modern band ever in the South of the Arabian Peninsula. The band was composed of twenty musicians playing various instruments. The band continued to take part in national festivals. Artists of the band also were allowed to participate in wedding ceremonies for fixed fares. The band remained affiliated to the army in Mukala. However, according to instructions of the Sultan the band became affiliated with the civil institutions. It was called the Sultanate Music and was also supported by the government.
In conclusion, building this band paved the way for the brass band now working in the military body. This has also led to the setting up of musical institutions from which many musicians have graduated.