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Sentimental Gesture and the Politics of ‘Shape’ in the Performances of Abd al-Halim Hafiz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInvestigating Musical Performance
Subtitle of host publicationTheoretical Models and Intersections
EditorsGianmario Borio, Alessandro Cecchi, Giovanni Giuriati, Marco Lutzu
Place of PublicationLondon
Pages 185-197
ISBN (Electronic)9780429026461
Accepted/In press2019
Published10 Jun 2020


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King's Authors


This chapter offers, as a case study that seeks to mediate between these extremes, the sentimental gestural world of Abd al-Halim Hafiz. Abd al-Halim Hafiz was a crooner whose singing career was deeply implicated in Nasser’s revolution in Egypt (1952) – a revolution that was modernising, non-aligned, secular. A few quick observations might be made about Abd al-Halim’s gestures to set the scene. Firstly, they had a viral quality, mimicked and reproduced across various media. Secondly, they were reflexive and self-aware. The more he gestured, the more he was represented gesturing; the more he was represented gesturing, the more it seemed he gestured. Thirdly, they were entangled with the media system’s dispositif. The organisation of the Abd al-Halim Hafiz Qariat al-Finjan performances could be approached rather separately from the point of view of the music or the text.

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