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Ammar el-Sherei and the day the music died Open in fullscreen

Fawzi Bakeer

Ammar el-Sherei and the day the music died

The quality of theme music for TV series has deteriorated [AFP]

Date of publication: 18 December, 2014

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One of Egypt's best-loved composers for television and film died two years ago this month. A great tradition seemed to die with him.
It has been two years since the death of Egypt's music icons, Ammar el-Sherei. Sherei is best known for the large volume of music he composed for film, theatre and for television. His work on the Egyptian television drama, al-Shahd wa al-Dumu [Honey and Tears], is but one example.

Who can forget how we would assemble around the television when it was time for another episode of the Egyptian series Raafat al-Haggan? It was not just for love of the show, it was also to be carried away by the music of Sherei. His opening theme song left us humming away long after the episode had ended.

Sherei did limit himself to instrumental soundtracks. Many of his musical arrangements for television and film incorporated works of poetry, written in colloquial Arabic. A prime example is the theme song for the television series Arabesque, which uses lyrics by the Egyptian poet, Sayed Hageb.
     His opening theme song left us humming away long after the episode had ended.

We can pause to reflect about the dedication of Arab television directors in the 1980s and 1990s who created quality productions. Not only did they focus on the script, but also on the music. They carefully recruited some of the most talented composers and poets of the time - talent which, unfortunately, is hard to come by today.

The artistic value of Arab television productions in recent years has fallen dramatically. Many are vague attempts to resemble folk tales of popular culture. Theme music has been demoted to the status of a commodity, with soundtracks quickly cobbled together in the whirlwind of consumerism.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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