Just like the wind

Amira Noshokaty , Monday 16 May 2016

Ancient Egyptian tunes in downtown Cairo

Mizmar Players in action
(Photo: Amira Noshokaty)

Last week a new cultural project -- promising to revive and cherish Egypt's oldest wind instruments -- celebrated its launch at the premises of Doum Cultural foundation in downtown Cairo.

As the first class to be graduated from the cultural development diploma of Faculty of Arts, Cairo University, the group of four students picked ancient Egyptian wind instruments as their proto type.

"We aim to document, archive and revive the instruments that are divided into four authentic types and that are barely in fashion nowadays," explained Ramy Riad, a co-founder of the project who also works at the women and memory forum.

The project is supported by Pro-Helvita (Swiss Funding body that supports cultural projects.)


"Our project has six phases that shall also promote the learning and usage of such instruments, via establishing a website to connect, we also aim to promote more exhibitions and performances of such instruments, in order to revive them," Riad added.

The event included an interesting photography exhibition of the renowned American photographer Dominik Huber, who documented the process of making such instruments between 2007 and 2008 in several Delta governorates.  


There are four main types of wind instruments:

Arghoul is made up of two pipes but of different sizes tied by a waxed thread and two attached tips, so that the player can place both in his mouth although only one pipe has an opening.

The Mizmar is similar but with a wider end and the holes in the pipe are created in accordance to the music tones needed.

The Kawala, on the other hand is one pipe, similar to the flute, but with no opening on the back and it comes in nine different sizes, according to the music note being composed.

The Magruna is a type of flute with two identical pipes, with each having five or six openings, with the number of openings denoting the maqamat.


"We picked the most famous wind instrument players that are displayed in the photo gallery- they are the Shahin Family in Menoufiya Governorate," explained Menna Sabri, the co-founder of the project. 

Most of those players have inherited this instrument from their fathers and most of them know how to make it themselves, for it’s very personal to the player," she added. 


"The best mismars nowadays are made from apricot and olive trees," explained Shahat Farag Ghanem, a mismark artist and a member of Shubra El-Kheima troupe, who have just ended their tour of France. Ghanem and Micheal Adel (A music student at the Higher Institute of Music) played in celebration of the revival project of Mizmar.




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