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In Arabic music, the mawwāl (موال; plural: mawāwīl, مواويـل) is a traditional genre of vocal music that is usually presented before the actual song begins. It is characterized by spelling vowel syllables longer than usual. In any mawwal, the music begins with a layali (ليالي), in which the listener will hear the common phrase "Ya Ain Ya Lail" (يا عين يا ليل), which means "Oh eye, Oh night."
Mawwal is sung in colloquial rather than classical Arabic. The genre has links to historical forms of Arabic poetry and music and the singer demonstrates his skill with non-metrical melodic improvisation on a poetic narrative text and melody.
Mawwal means "affiliated with", "associated with," or "connected to". The verb is waala. It is measure 3 of the root verb "Walia", which means to follow, be affiliated with, support, or sponsor. Originally the verbal noun has a Yaa in the definite form but it loses it when the world is indefinite.
Mawwal in Egypt
In Egypt, the musicians of Mawawil play the rabab (a double-stringed spike fiddle made from half of a coconut shell covered with fish skin and a bow strung with horse hair), the kawala (an end-blown, oblique flute with six holes) and the arghoul (an ancient double clarinet characterized by two pipes of unequal length. The second pipe serves as a drone and can be lengthened by adding pieces. The player uses the technique of circular breathing to produce an uninterrupted sound). The arghoul can be traced back to Pharaonic times as it is exactly depicted on wall paintings of the temples of the third dynasty. Amin Shahin is one of the few remaining arghoul players in Egypt, since the death of arghoul master, Moustafa Abd al Aziz in 2001.
Mawwal is sung by powerful singers who are able to demonstrate strong vocal capabilities. The most famous singers come from Lebanon in specific, Sabah, Wadih- al Safi and Fairouz. However nowadays, some of the most famous and strongest singers that can sing mawaweels are Najwa Karam and Wael Kfoury.
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