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Playing across a DivideIsraeli-Palestinian Musical Encounters$
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Benjamin Brinner

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195395945

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195395945.001.0001

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Arab Musicians in Israel and the West Bank

Arab Musicians in Israel and the West Bank

(p.37) 2 Arab Musicians in Israel and the West Bank
Playing across a Divide

Benjamin Brinner

Oxford University Press

Music flourishes as an essential element of celebration, but quality languishes under the tyranny of the lowest common denominator. Jamal Sa'id, a popular Palestinian drummer, summed up his experience playing for weddings and other celebrations in the West Bank and Israel when we spoke in Jerusalem in the early 1990s. Most have withdrawn completely from this mainstream; those who continue to participate do so for the sizable income or to fulfill social obligations. But this mainstream is not the only show in town. Frustrated musicians seek out or create other opportunities. Presentation of Arab art music in a prestigious setting in West Jerusalem boosted their standing as musicians and offered them a small measure of recognition in Israeli society. Cassettes and compact discs serve different purposes for consumers and musicians. Consumers buy them in order to hear their favorites or to satisfy their curiosity about new singers.

Keywords:   Jamal Sa'id, mainstream, Arab art, West Jerusalem, cassettes, compact discs

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