The melodies (al-Aqani), is a great encyclopedia on Arabic poet and literature, Arabic art, fables, lineage and music in time of “Jahiliyyah” (The state of affairs in Arabia before the mission of the Prophet. In general it has connotation of ignorance and paganism) and after the advent of Islam and also Umayyads and Abbasids era. It is one of the most important sources of evolution history of Arab poet and music as well as the document of Persian music’s genuineness in Arab culture. There also topics on social and cultural situations, the court life and populace’s ####life of Arabs, their customs and characteristics. It is written by Abul Faraj Isfahani.
Abul Faraj Ali Ibn Hossein Isfahani, Iranian Shia historian, poet, grammarian and musicologist (896 – 966), Isfahan – Iran. He is descended from “Marwan Hemar” (the last Umayyad caliph). Abul Faraj passed the preliminaries in Isfahan, then went to Baghdad – Iraq to continue his education. Having studied and gathered the subjects related to music, poetry, songs and melodies with full of enthusiasm and great perseverance, soon made him so famous all over the Islamic world and was greatly encouraged by the dynasties, Buyids (in Ray and Baghdad), Hamdanids (in Syria) and Umayyads (in Andalus).
The meaning of Aqani
Aqani is an Arabic term, means the songs and melodies. It is applied for the books containing rhythmic Arabic poems and prose and songs with explanation about the rhythm and style. The oldest book written in this manner, was written by “Yunus al-Kateb” (musician and writer on music; d. 752). Several books were written on music and melodies, but non of them was as famous and reliable as Aqani.
The book structure
- Aqani is arranged in 21 volumes, based on 100 songs of great singers: Ibrahim Moseli (one of the greatest musicians and composers of the early Abbasid period; 724 – 804) and Ismail Sahmi, etc.
- The Arabic songs and poems
- The biography of the poets, musicians, composers and singers whose names are noticed in the book. There are 400 biographies of Arab poets
- The famous poets and songs which were related to the caliphs or their families
- Sections about the society, culture, family problems, marriage, and training children, etc.
It took the author 50 years to be compiled.
The book from the scholars’ viewpoint
Saheb Ibn Abbad (Buyid vizier and scholar) who had a library of 117000 volumes, always had Aqani with him. Azod al-Dawleh Daylami and other great scholars also studied this invaluable book. Abul Faraj dedicated a complete copy of his work to “Seyf al-Dawleh Hamdani” (king of Aleppo) and was rewarded 1000 dinars.
It was first published in 1842 in Cairo into 20 volumes and also in 1388 in Netherlands. The French translation was published in 1904 and 1905. Hereafter it has been published many times with new corrections. Aqani was translated into Persian by “Muhammad Hossein Mashayekh”, and also summarized by Ibn Maqrebi, Ibn Baqiaa, Jamal al-Din Muhammad Ibn Mukarram and Sheikh Muhammad Khezri.