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Music Review: ‘Dances of Port Said’ by Mohammed El-Bakkar and His Oriental Ensemble

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Dances of Port Said by Mohammed El-Bakkar and His Oriental Ensemble is a fantastic CD (the 2003 edition) with a dozen songs. The contents represent an introduction to the music of the Middle East; the audience is treated to varied orchestral sounds including drums, flutes, clashing cymbals, castanets, clarinets, oboes, strings and unusual percussion sounds. An earlier vinyl version of the record was released in 1960.

It begins with “Dari E. Yeounik” (“See and Admire”). The orchestral music has a background of sounds including flutes, cymbals, drums, loud clapping and hurling screams, as in a fast paced caravan celebrating romantic night adventures. In person, the audience would likely experience the swaying of tassels, hip scarves and exotic belly dance movements.

Next, the listener is treated to “Ish Allamak” (“Who Taught You”). The music proceeds with singing against a backdrop of percussion, cymbals and occasional wailing. Typically, the belly dancing associated with this music would include intricate hip drops, vertical hip rocks, hip lifts, twists and suggestive shoulder accents.

“El Hora El Hawara” (“The Circle Dance”) follows with flutes, castanets, cymbals and drums against a backdrop of group-singing around a fire with belly dancers. Occasionally, the women in the group chime in with high-pitched screams and partying body language.

“Ya Natir” (“The One Who Waits”51g1gApH5pL._SY300_) follows sequentially. The music opens with a flute and soloist. The surrounding group participants whisper the words of the soloist. There is significant percussion with clapping and cymbals clashing throughout. This rendition would be played logically in a place like Djema’a el Fna, which is a city square in Port Said. There are huge crowds day and night with an array of belly dancers, tumblers, sword swallowers, fortune tellers, card tricksters, screeching peddlers and shouting cabbies.

To a foreigner from the West, this scene might be entirely unfamiliar. In fact, the local people might look upon travelers with a wry humor or even distrust depending upon the body language communicated by the tourists.

Dances of Port Said is an important introduction to the music of the Middle East with a particular emphasis on the area’s open air markets, which operate literally night and day, and to the travelers coming from all over the globe to trade there. The music is also valuable to people studying the culture for the first time, as well as experts in the local culture.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.