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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

A Review of

The Golden Translator
(El Motargem El Zahaby)

by George Moawad

 

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Summary

These three books contain translations from Arabic to English for the lyrics of well-known songs often used for Oriental dance. Each book contains about 8-10 translations.
Volume 1 Cover Volume 2 Cover Volume 3 Cover

 

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Fact Sheet

Title

The Golden Translator (El Motargem El Zahaby)

Author

George Moawad

ISBN

None

Publisher

Happy Times International

Category

Music Education

Rating

StarStarStar

 

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Description

George Moawad created this 3-volume series of books specifically for the purpose of helping U.S. Oriental dance artists who don't speak Arabic to enhance their understanding of Arabic music. Dancers who don't know what songs are about run the risk of interpreting songs in ways that would look stupid to people who understand what the words are saying. For example, a dancer who writhes seductively to a song about failed romance such as "Lessa Faker" or "Harramt Ahebbak" would be seen as ignorant. In contrast, a dancer who dances with appropriate emotional expression to what the words are saying would be appreciated by audiences who know the song.

Each book the series is 24-26 pages long, with translations for 8-10 songs in each. The rest of the book consists of advertisements, interviews, and reviews of Moawad's other products. There is no sheet music included, only the text of the lyrics.

If each book had contained translations for more than 8-10 songs, I probably would have given this series 5 stars. With only 8-10 songs per book, there is still enough value to justify three stars, because this knowledge is very important to dancers who wish to develop a truly professional level of skill that will be respected by their ethnic audiences. The information the books contain is valuable, but it seems a bit skimpy.

The inclusion of the Arabic lyrics translated into the Roman alphabet is very useful for several reasons, including:

  • Musicians who are learning to play these songs can use these books to learn the lyrics.
  • Dancers who like to lip-sync while performing can use these books to learn the lyrics.
  • Dancers can use the books to learn which Arabic words to listen for so they can align their moods and gestures with the shifting moods of the songs.

Because the books focus on well-known songs that are widely used for Oriental dance, a dance student who doesn't yet know much about Arabic music can use the books as a recommendation for songs to seek out and learn. A dancer who already knows something about Arabic music will appreicate that many popular songs are included.

 

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Songs Included

Volume 1:

  • Neksem El Amar
  • El Toba
  • Zai El Hawa
  • Sawah
  • Harramt Ahebak
  • Baahlam Beek
  • Gana El Hawa
  • Moghram Ya Leal

Volume 2:

  • Ala Nar
  • Ana Fi Intezarak
  • Habibi Ya Einy
  • Ya Bent El Sultan
  • Lesa Faker
  • Inta Omery
  • Habibi Inta
  • Aih Yainy
  • Ibn El Halal

Volume 3:

  • Afot Wa Anot
  • Nar El Ghira
  • Kol El Banaat Bet Hebak
  • Ya Saiyedy
  • Awel Marah Teheb
  • Bitatibny
  • Ya Leyl
  • Lo Lash
  • Batwaness Beek
  • Ageeb Ageeb

 

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Are They Right for You?

You Will Probably Enjoy These Books If...

  • You are looking for translations for the lyrics of the songs they contain.
  • You particularly enjoy Egyptian music.

These Books Probably Aren't Right for You If...

  • You're looking for sheet music.

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • For each song, Moawad includes both the translation and the transliteration (writing out the lyrics in the Roman alphabet rather than the original Arabic alphabet).
  • Moawad selects well-known songs made famous by prominent Arabic musicians such as Oum Kalthoum, Abdel Halim Hafez, and Warda.
  • The books are staple-bound instead of using plastic spiral binding, so they don't take up too much space on the bookshelf. They're also reasonably easy to identify on the shelf when I'm looking at the spines.

What I Didn't Like:

  • Each volume features a very small number of songs, only 8-10. The books feel skimpy.
  • I really wished each book would have started with a table of contents. It's annoying to thumb through each volume in its entirety when searching to see whether it contains the translation of a song I'm looking for.
  • Volume 3 doesn't have any page numbers.

 

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Conclusion

It's very important for a dancer to know what the lyrics are saying in the songs she uses for her shows. This knowledge will allow her to incorporate techniques into her performances that add credibility with Arabic audiences, such as lip-syncing to the Arabic lyrics or showing appropriate emotion to the shifting moods of the song. For those of us who don't speak Arabic, these books provide the information we need to truly understand this music and enrich our dance performances. Unfortunately, each book is short, featuring only 8-10 songs.

 

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Disclosures

There is nothing to disclose. My only contact with the producer of these books has been the transaction of purchasing them.

 

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To Buy It

George Moawad
Happy Times International
11210 Reseda Blvd.
Northridge, CA.91326
U.S.A.

Phone: (+1) (818) 368-5411
Email: hapitimez@aol.com

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