Chained To The Pillars
The other day I attended a Zar at a place called Makan. Like you, I had no clear idea of what a Zar is. The only thing in common between what I read on wikipedia and what I actually saw was the use of the Tanbura, a harp-looking stringed instrument, and the Mangour, a strange percussive instrument that is worn as a belt. It was just a musical performance, nothing more.
The moment I walked into this place one word popped into my head: 'authentic'. Even the air smelled Egyptian or Nubian... and that's as far as I can describe that smell for you. Let's get down to business though and talk about Mazaher, the group that performed this Zar. As you might guess I don't care much about the spirituality/healing/energy crap, I am interested in the music and cultural aspect and what I saw and heard impressed me. Here are the highlights very briefly...
Mazaher has two star performers, the Ney player, and Madiha. They Ney player displayed some remarkable mastery of his instrument. He was soloing with that thing like he was born with it. I have no idea how he can do that without musical education. Very good stuff. The real deal here though is Madiha. She's a very charismatic Nubian woman with a powerful voice of which she is in complete control. First of all, you'll find yourself unable able to take your eyes off her. Second of all, your heart will just sink when she gives you those piercings looks as she sings to you. Those of you who pay attention to lyrics won't be disappointed either, religious songs aside. Stop what you're doing right now and start making plans to go see it with your friends. You have to!!!