Revisiting Tarab by Tarek Atoui


Lebanese sound artist Tarek Atoui will be in Sharjah on 19th March in the Heritage Area in Sharjah (Calligraphy Square) to present the Middle East premiere of Revisiting Tarab, an evening of performances inspired by classical Arab music.

Conceived and proposed by Tarek Atoui, he will be joined by 22 international musicians including Anti-Pop Consortium and there will be series of performances from 8.15pm till the following morninig. Audience members are free to dip in and out anytime or sit through the whole show.

Revisiting Tarab incorporates elements of the world’s largest collection of Classical Arab music as interpreted by a range of musicians and sound artists. The collection belongs to Kamal Kassar who has amassed a collection of old 78 rpm shellac discs and studio tapes dating between 1903 and 1950, largely covering the Arab renaissance period that began in the early 19th century.

There is no word in English that accurately translates the word Tarab from Arabic to English, which makes it very difficult to define. Tarab is used in Arab culture to describe the emotional effect of music, but it is also associated with a traditional form of art music. The word 'Tarab' refers to an older repertoire, which is rooted in the pre World War 1 musical practice of Egypt and the East Mediterramean Arab world and is directly associated with emotional evocation.

Tarab sessions are known to last hours where both enchantment and ecstasy play an important rule within the Tarab performance. Tarab is a musically induced state of Ecstasy, an enchantment roused by of music, whereas Spanish Duende depicts the state the musician may experience during his performance – it is called in Arabic Saltana, Tarab describes the enchantment of the audience. (via

Revisiting Tarab is produced by Sharjah Art Foundation and was first performed last November in New York. I really hope it tours around the Middle East region after Sharjah. I think it's an important show that needs to be exposed to a wider audience in this part of the world.

I was intending to go to this show and sit through the whole thing. But that was before I knew I'd be in an exhibition that opens that same night. So I will try my best to catch the last hour or two after the exhibition opening.

You can download some original Tarab music from to get a sense of what you might hear at this event. The music is sublime.


Event details

Date: Monday, 19th March starting at 8.15pm till 2.00am the following morning

Venue: Calligraphy Square, Heritage Area, Sharjah (location map).  There is an Art Bus Shuttle organised by Art in the City that will provide transportation from Dubai to the venue. Details here.

Phone: +971 6 568 5050

[Images via]