‘Hamziyya’: The Inspiration

Posted on November 25th, 2019

I’m very pleased to share my latest single, ‘Hamziyya’, a piece inspired by an Algerian mystical chant that I found profoundly moving when I first heard them some years ago. This piece also reflects my British side. I wanted to express something of the English folk tradition here as I have a deep love for that sound. And by bringing these musical expressions together I hope to show how it is possible to seamlessly weave together music of different traditions. This can be done because, as I see it, these musical traditions originate from the same celestial source. Each has developed its uniquely beautiful language of sounds, but they share an essence. ‘Hamziyya’ was initially released on my album Barakah, but this is a completely new arrangement with a never-before-heard Taqsīm composition in the Intro.

The Intro, which I have named ‘Taqsīm Al-Hamziyya’, was performed for the first time at the 2019 Fes Festival of Sacred Music. The solo instruments each explore a different maqam or mode. It’s a multi-layered piece, but its effect on the listener is simple and direct. The transitions from one mode to another are arranged to evoke stages of an inner journey. It was an enormous pleasure for me to work with these musicians who brought such beauty and skill to this piece.

As for the lyrics, they come from portions of the thousand-verse Hamziyya (poem rhyming in hamza) by the renowned Palestinian scholar Yusuf Nabhani (d. 1932). Because it describes the Prophet’s life and character, it’s frequently recited during Mawlid celebrations of the Prophet’s (pbuh) birthday. I want to thank the amazing vocalists, Ismail Boujia and his team, for bringing their immense talent to this work. I also want to thank T J Winter for his translation as well as Yousef Casewit and Saad Ansari for additional translation.

As we are still in the blessed month of Rabi’ al-Awwal which marks the occasion of Mawlid an-Nabi, I’m offering this piece in celebration of Our Teacher ﷺ. It’s my hope it may hold in it a reminder — however faint — of the beauty, the love, and the peace that the Blessed Prophet brought to this world.

With love and prayers to you all. _sy.

Watch/Listen Now: https://sy.lnk.to/Hamziyya-Live