Tawfiq Farroukh … “It is time” for the soundtrack


In a healthy, ambiguous time globally, and which is clearly black at all levels locally, artist Tawfiq Farroukh found an idea to maintain a minimum level of activity and production, by accessing the archive in general, and specifically to the “file” of film music that he had composed and recorded for a group of Arab cinematic works ( Seven films and documentaries), by Lebanese directors Jean-Claude Qudsi (two films), Ghassan Salhab, Dima al-Jundi (documentary), Michel Kammoun and Khalil Zarour, in addition to the Syrian director Muhammad Malas (two films). Parties are not easily available, festivals are suspended for most of them, travel is frightening and tiring, and the general atmosphere is not even suitable for work. Taking advantage of this exceptional situation to carry out a project that has no time monitored, perhaps on ordinary days, is the best possible, firstly, to share a relatively large material of the kind that does not take its right until it is issued independently of the image, and install it in the list of Middle Eastern cinema soundtracks, second , To maintain connections with an audience that is less busy to devote their time to quiet listening to music, even if the mood is sometimes inappropriate for such an activity, despite its necessity in general, and especially now.
Tawfiq Farroukh (1958), an ancient composer and saxophonist, has been working at a steady pace, since his launch with a private and independent experience more than a quarter of a century ago.

Tawfiq Farroukh has been working at a steady pace, since his launch with a private and independent experience more than a quarter of a century ago

After years of participating in serious musical projects during the Lebanese war, as a saxophonist with a passion for jazz and musical experiences close to this style, he immigrated to France and settled there to complete his musical studies and then finally settle down. His last visit to Lebanon was exactly two years ago, when he presented a distinguished project from what we are accustomed to (i.e. jazz concerts in public or special festivals with this music), when he collected in an evening a quartet of piano, counterbass, drums and saxophones, in the Philharmonic Orchestra, in a work A Western classic in which space is given to exact jazz improvisation, at least in form and elegance, under the rigors of orchestral performance. From “Ali on Broadway” (1994) until the last album, “Invisible Cities” (2017), Tawfiq Farroukh’s main musical experience was accompanied by a parallel, completely independent, often different, and almost unknown other, which is the soundtrack or specifically the audio tapes of cinematic works. In other words, the oldest and most recent of these experiences that we hear in his new release (available on the Streaming and will be released later on a double CD) go back to 1994 (“It’s Time” music) and 2017 (“Nour” music) respectively.
These tapes, in terms of size (the ratio of music attendance to the total film) and the magnitude of the musical composition, ranged from a few minutes to a three-dimensional composition in the documentary “Maids for Sale” (Dima al-Jundi) and more than half an hour with a huge orchestral composition in the epic film “The Manger” (Muhammad Malas). Likewise, the duration of each piece of music is approximately half a minute to four and a half minutes. This is typical in this respect in this particular pattern that has aged in the life of cinema, since it was still silent (when a live orchestra was accompanying the screening of the film). On the other hand, it is true that the image and the story direct the soundtrack to a mood that would benefit it in conveying an idea, conveying a situation, or reinforcing a certain atmosphere, but Farroukh’s compositional imprint is clear in some stations, and this is to be expected. As for the unexpected, it is the emergence of a completely new identity from his character in other stations, especially in the films “The Unknown Land” (Ghassan Sahlab) and “The Cradle”. In the first, it seems that Farroukh has succeeded in “satisfying” the director, as the style and composition (classic / quadruple strings mainly) are of the type that suits this cinematic current as well as the director’s musical taste. In the second, the author succeeds in helping the story and the picture convey the features of some historical events and their epic character in the pre-Islamic period directly in the Arabian Peninsula. This was new, not only for Tawfiq Farroukh, but also for Muhammad Malas and his style of cinematic work. The additional breath that we notice in some of this material is the relatively recent French influence (in song, film music, and hybrid musical experiences) on Tawfiq Farroukh’s style of composition, especially in the films “It is time” (Jean-Claude Qudsi) and “Nour” (Khalil Zaarour) Note that they are both parties to this article in time (1994-2017). This is found in his later works, but it is also here. Finally, one should add reliance on sound, electro-acoustic and electronics (and centimeter) effects to create “extremist” graphic material that is difficult to extract from conventional instruments alone, especially in the movie “An Honorable Person” (Qudsi).

The breath we see in some of this material is the relatively modern French influence

The important thing in this musical style remains two points: the first is the extent to which the music “adheres” to the image and the story (detail, a large scene, a major development, a clear and special mood, an opening scene, a closing scene, an emotional scene, a complexity and its solution, geographical transition, basic personality features in The film, a closed or open place …) and its ability to put the viewer in a deeper state (sadness, suspicion, danger, pain, delirium, nightmare, innocence …) towards the course of the film and its characters. The second is the ability of music to create a concept in the viewer through a musical phrase (non-motive) that brings back to it a specific state of desire or is linked to a specific personality, in addition to its ability to capture the “smell / color” of the film in general, and convert it into a general sound or a sentence. (Motiv) builds the whole tape, or a large part of it, on it (the innocent, dreamy, playful and contemporary side of “Noor” and the epic, historical, Arab Bedouin side of “The Cradle”, for example). Here it can be said that these features in the soundtrack, or to say “the rules”, are almost absent from the musical tapes of the eight films, with the difference in their expressive strength, here and there, between the good and the excellent, and with the different independence and cohesion of each piece separately, between the ones that “die.” »Outside the film, which can be heard as music in itself, beautiful and solid, it is perhaps the reason behind the idea of ​​the release in the first place, because it simply does not deserve to remain captive of a film or a captive of an opportunity, not always available, to watch it. To reach these results, Tawfiq Farroukh rarely placed himself as a saxophonist at the disposal of the project (with the exception of “Falafel” by Michel Kamoun and “Ladder to Damascus” by Muhammad Malas), while he put his main efforts in it as a composer, using the neoclassic, which reaches the borders of Beethoven And the contemporary classic (in “the unknown land” in both cases) and the eastern (in part of the “cradle” and some stations elsewhere) and “ambient” (especially in “honorable man”), fusion, and other categories that have little meaning and no musical significance except To illustrate the image a little to the reader.
These generalities are based on a large amount of notes pertaining to each segment in the eight tapes of the following films: “Nour,” “Maids for Sale,” “The Unknown Land,” “The Cradle,” “Falafel,” “An Honest Person,” “Delivered to Damascus” and “It’s time”. Consequently, we leave to those who will listen to Toufic Farroukh’s new task of “expanding” these points, unless they like to choose another approach to the album, which is hearing without thinking about all the above … and this is what we encourage, for sure.

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