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d’archéologie orientale du Caire


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Le jeudi 30 mars 2023 à 21h00 (heure du Caire), IFE géolocalisation IFE

Shaʿbi music and street performance: afrah al-gamaʿiyya

Sophie Frankford

La neuvième session d'ASWAT aura lieu jeudi 30 mars à 21 h à l'IFE. Cette soirée inaugurera les Nuits du Ramadan de l’Institut français d’Égypte, une série de concerts autour de l’exploration des musiques traditionnelles égyptiennes !

Cet événement sera l’occasion de découvrir la musique Shab’i des  "afrah gamaʿiyyat" via la conférence de Sophie Frankford, postdoctorante au CEDEJ.


Shaʿbi music, a style that emerged in Cairo in the late 1960s, is often performed at events in the street rather than in formal indoor venues. These events are of two kinds: either weddings (afrah ʿaris w ʿarusa), or something akin to a benefit concert, designed to raise money for a local community member (afrah al-gamaʿiyya). Like street weddings, these benefit concerts are open to the public and free at the point of entry: the host will usually extend an open invitation (daʿwa ʿamma) to anyone who wants to attend, going to great efforts to advertise the event. Guests are then encouraged (or rather, socially obliged) to donate money, which the host must pay back at some point in the future. The way money is collected at these musical fundraising events—which, it should be noted, only take place in shaʿbi / informal neighbourhoods in Cairo, never in other parts of the city—is highly performative, intimately connected to the music performed, and dictated by strict rules of social etiquette. As this talk will explore, this performance context shapes the way that the musicians perform, and the way that listeners engage with the music.


Postdoctoral Fellow at CEDEJ in Cairo, Sophie Frankford is an anthropologist of music and popular culture, with a focus on Egypt. After an undergraduate degree in Music and an MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies, she completed her DPhil in Anthropology at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Zuzanna Olszewska and Walter Armbrust. Her thesis, based on 21 months of fieldwork in Cairo including 1 year working as a violinist with various bands, is an ethnography of a style of popular music known as shaʿbi.

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Sounds - and music - are able to shape individual and collective identities, define spaces and borders, denote cultures, transmit knowledge and influence style lives.

ASWAT is a series of music meetings and music performances focusing on Egyptian culture(s) of music that seeks to explore a range of musical practices across Egypt, and beyond, through the contribution of academic speakers and music makers, followed by a concert. The meetings will offer the opportunity to deepen some historical, religious, social and musicological aspects that interwoven in, and from, the Egyptian music heritage, addressing creation, performance and reception practice.

Aswat is a joint initiative from CEDEJ, IFAO supported by IFE.

Les sons - et la musique - sont capables de façonner les identités individuelles et collectives, de définir les espaces et les frontières, de dénoter les cultures, de transmettre les connaissances et d'influencer les styles de vies.

ASWAT est une série de rencontres et de spectacles musicaux axés sur la ou les cultures musicales égyptiennes qui vise à explorer un éventail de pratiques musicales à travers l'Égypte, et au-delà, grâce à la contribution de conférenciers universitaires et de musiciens, suivie d'un concert. Les rencontres seront l'occasion d'approfondir certains aspects historiques, religieux, sociaux et musicologiques qui s'entremêlent dans et à partir du patrimoine musical égyptien, en abordant les pratiques de création, d'interprétation et de réception.

ASWAT est une initiative conjointe du CEDEJ et de l'Ifao soutenue par l'IFE.