10 – Bishari Series – Archive #608

                                                       Bishari #608


Bishari Bedouin Series – Part 9 of a 10 part video-clip Interview – May 2016


The Bishari tribesmen returned to sitting on the blanket after they finished their athletic games. We started discussing music by starting with the Tambour, which in their “Rohtana” language is called “Bassencoup”. I knew there was so much more we could have learned from the musician, but we did not have the language. I am hoping that an Ethnomusicologist can view this clip and get more information out of it. The Tambour musician was the only professional musician present. Unfortunately the discussion was cut short by two uninvited visitors. One can see the concern on the musician’s face as the strangers approached, as he calls out to Gamal, who seemed to be the leader of the group.

“Bassencoup” (Tambour) and it’s music


  • 0:09 Wael; First tell me the name of this instrument.
  • 0:11 “Bassencoop” in Rohtana, “Tambour” or “Tamboura” in Arabic.
  • 0:30 It has 5 strings made of the wires found inside of motorcycle tires.
  • 1:08 I am hoping that this conversation can be studied by an Ethnomusicologist who understands Arabic and instruments of this area and population.
  • 1:32 “This melody is called basout”, but I think possibly he is talking about something like a scale, or a maqam.
  • 2:15 The musician shows us how to tune the strings.
  • 2:36 Another instrument is called “ambilhoyat” and (is understood after some conversation*) is of cane and played like a nye or an argul.
  • 3:33 “The argul is used by the fellahin”
  • 3:45 Another instrument was a horn made from an animal horn “garoon”.
  • 4:26 The conversation about music was cut short by two uninvited visitors. They were not Bedouin, they were of the Nile Valley, with a dialect more like Cairo. When I discover a polite way of describing his questions and demeanor I will continue. The Bishari were strong and dignified in their manner. I understood his questions because for some reason he asked first in English then in Arabic, as if he was trying to impress someone. My impression of the Bishari only increased with their handling of his rude try at superiority.

* When verbal translation differs from written subtitles, give the subtitles more weight. After the recording translator Wael Mohamed Ali listens to the video recording many times before he sets the words.
These Bishari tribesmen are University students in Aswan, celebrating after final exams. There was one professional Tambour musician. Translator; Wael Mohamed Ali, Aswan, Egypt.

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