64. The Jassis (Promotion for a Wedding Singer)


2014 CE
1435 AH
Found at a wedding, 2014

I hold the voice of Faisal Al Laban of the Firqat Al Bahara Al Shabiya, the local sailor’s band. A favorite at Mecca weddings, the band appears just after the drama of the mezmar dance.

Yes, my sound is rather cheesy, but the mothers and fathers, oh how they love it! My song is in the style of Majess, voiced in colloquial language. I am the vocals before the song even begins. I take a poem and weave and wind it, improvising as I go, each note a singular sound of its own.

My music is radical in its own way, for my intention is to seek out truth by means of mystical love and devotion. I sing about the unity of being.

What was once an old relic of Hijazi folklore is again in fashion for weddings and parties. You must book months in advance. These skills are unique, from the rhythm to the intonation, the immaculate pauses to the crescendos and the lyrics. All have been passed down, generation to generation. You listeners are mesmerised as I weave my words, leading you to earthly, joyous heights.

This work transcends the objects. Ultimately, what I’m working with isn’t only the artefacts themselves, but the stories attached to them. For me, each tale is the manifestation of the object, and each object is a tangible materialisation of an underlying narrative. The work finds its equilibrium somewhere between the stories and chronology they’re chaptered into, the objects becoming knots or points along the timeline, woven into stories as part of the language of this artwork. Each story draws out a tale that intends to trigger imagination and memory, mixing fact with fiction, with the ultimate aim of straddling, conflating and confusing fixed notions of history to open up the unofficial histories that shape the character of place and memory.
Ahmed Mater
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