Yemeni Folk Songs [Archives:1997/44/Last Page]

November 3 1997

As is well known, singing is performed on different occasions and in different places. People in Yemen as everywhere else have known singing for a long time. First, it has been known as a way of relieving ones burdens and hardships, a means of relaxation, and expressing one’s emotions and feelings. Yemenis used to sit in certain places outside their houses to sing. Those places were used for relaxing after spending a full day of hard work. In the old times, such places did not have to be prepared in the way places are prepared now. Those places could even be yards in some localities, here and there. Farmers, laborers, and fishermen sing old songs using old and simple musical instruments. It was felt that such singing would strengthen their abilities to better do their work. Yemenis are well known for being so fond of art and literature, which have become part of their lives. This actually is one of the reasons why Yemeni songs in general became well known and quite developed in the rest of the Arab world. This of course has also led to the development of the modern Yemeni song. If it had not been for the old folk songs, the Yemeni modern song would not have reached is present stage of development. The old Yemeni folk songs vary according to the occasion. There are songs sung by women when getting water from the wells, by shepherds tending their herds, farmers toiling in the fields, irrigation songs, camel riders in long desert journeys and by women grinding wheat, etc. There are also children’s and weddings songs and religious hymns. Yemeni songs represent a good record of the old folklore and popular art. They are a form of self expression for the ordinary and simple folk. The modern folk song is a natural development from the old one. It has to be admitted that Yemeni songs have become widespread in neighboring countries. This can be attributed to its heartfelt words, simple tunes and other endearing artistic features. In addition to that, the fame of the Yemeni song is also attributed to the Yemeni singers themselves who are generally good and proficient singers, some of whom have gained much fame in other Arab countries. The development of the Yemeni song is also due to the fact that musicians started using modern instruments. There is no doubt that the Yemeni song has played a great role in various aspects of our life. It has served the emotional feelings of the people at certain periods in time. Whatever is said about the modern Yemeni folk song, it cannot be given what it deserves. On the other hand, the old Yemeni songs must not be ignored. It must be preserved as part of the nation’s heritage.
Ismail Al-Ghabiri, Yemen Times