Libyan Music-Rizk el 3ayn (Libyan Malouf)

Maluf is the traditional music of Libya. This song is an example of a maluf from the Middle Ages. This form of music thrived in the 9th to 15th centuries, an is still performed today. Influences are from across the Mediterranean as Muslims settled in other lands and then returned to their homeland, bringing Sicilian, Iberian, Frankish, and Levantine influences into their arts.

You can even hear similarities between Maluf and the music of Al-Andalus. Specifically, songs like ‘Quddam’ show you just how far back the influence goes…

Good catch! The other song “una matica de ruda” (Garland of Roses) is based on Andalusian ballads. The influences flowed back and forth around the Med during this period. The Muslim Caliphate could be called a Renaissance except the East and North Africa did not experience the collapse of infrastructure the Western Roman Empire had experienced. As a result, there was still trade and preservation of classical values. The earliest known university to grant degrees was University of Karueein, founded in 859 AD in Fez, Morocco. European universities began nearly two centuries later. In fact, the Muslim Empires were the first to offer a medical degree we would recognize today. It was these empires that boosted the late middle ages in science when the papers of Aristotle were spread into the European West because the Muslims had never lost them, and had expanded on them.

The same with music. Musical notation from Muslim regions began to be used by Europeans in the High Middle Ages as a way to more accurately compose music.


I think that the preservation, development and transmission of knowledge in general is like a cultural marathon race. The ‘baton’ is passed on to the next dominant culture who then runs with it and so on. I am not a history or music major but the more I learn about the myriad contributions of ‘Non-Western’ cultures to modern civilization the less patience I have with Eurocentric bigots.

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