Zar-Trance Music for Women
The Zar No one knows exactly where the zar comes from. Some believe it originated either in Ethiopia, Sudan, Iran or Pharaonic Egypt. We do know that today thousands of women in Africa and the Middle East use this music to cure all kinds of illnesses. They literally dance until they drop. In some African countries the ceremonies can go on for a week. That would be seven days of intense drumming and dancing throughout the nights, until the light of dawn and exhaustion overcome them. The belief is that if modern medicine can not find a reason for an illness, pain or state of mind then supernatural forces must be at work. The patient, who is normally a woman, will consult a spiritual healer (also a woman) to find out if she is indeed possessed - "clothed" or "covered" in Egyptian vernacular. If she is diagnosed as being with spirit, or as is often the case with several spirits, then she is expected to try to communicate with her possessors to find out what they want. Only when the zar spirits are placated and their demands met will the woman's illness or pain dissipate. A Zar ceremony is organized to see which of the multitude of rhythms entices her up to dance. Each spirit has a beat and a song. Once it is established which spirit is calling her, the possessed woman will dance herself into a trance so that she can speak to the being inhabiting her body. Are the spirits real, are the women possessed? The women believe they are. These patients turn to the Zar after modern medicine has failed them. Depression and other psychological diseases, while acknowledged in Egypt and Africa, are hardly accepted in the mainstream. Faith becomes their healer - along with a little exercise and a healthy dose of seratonin. This is an exerpt from the 32 page color booklet that accompanies the CD. Included in it are translations of all the songs and a detailed explanation of the Zar ceremony and spirits. Awlad Aboul al-Gheit This group is one of the few Zar groups remaining in Egypt, and the most famous. They perpetuate the ancient music and rhythms passed down to them from their ancestors. Unfortunately, because of Islamic fundamentalism, zar ceremonies are highly discouraged now in the Middle East, and there is a fear that the tradition will soon die out. Trance dancing, as it is known in the West, requires just the right blend of driving rhythms and monotonous repetition, to help the brain reach an ecstatic state. Without the right music, altered consciousness is difficult to achieve. This music has been tested through the ages to help dancers reach that other plane of existence.