Lyr Req: Miserlou
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Lyr Req: Miserlou

DREMLEN FEYGL (Drowsing Birds)

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Jack Campin 31 Jan 18 - 04:55 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 31 Jan 18 - 03:50 AM
GUEST,Emel from Turkey 23 Dec 11 - 04:27 AM
GUEST,Emel from turkey 22 Dec 11 - 05:37 PM
Monique 20 Sep 11 - 09:04 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Sep 11 - 04:08 PM
Genie 29 Aug 11 - 03:46 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 29 Aug 11 - 02:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Aug 11 - 02:10 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Aug 07 - 11:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Aug 07 - 11:04 PM
Genie 29 Aug 05 - 08:42 PM
Genie 23 Aug 05 - 03:54 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Mar 05 - 09:36 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Mar 05 - 08:17 PM
M.Ted 16 Mar 05 - 06:05 PM
M.Ted 16 Mar 05 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,GUEST 16 Mar 05 - 03:00 AM
GUEST, 15 Mar 05 - 10:19 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Mar 05 - 08:16 PM
robomatic 06 Mar 05 - 05:50 PM
GUEST,Elizabeth Sener 06 Mar 05 - 05:07 PM
GUEST,Dr. Eugene Michael Dangelo, Music Educator 20 Dec 04 - 04:06 PM
Matt_R 08 Aug 04 - 01:48 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Aug 04 - 01:36 PM
John in Brisbane 08 Aug 04 - 10:59 AM
GUEST, 08 Aug 04 - 01:01 AM
Art Thieme 14 Jan 04 - 11:58 PM
M.Ted 14 Jan 04 - 10:57 PM
Gray D 13 Jan 04 - 08:10 PM
GUEST 13 Jan 04 - 08:05 PM
GUEST 13 Jan 04 - 08:04 PM
Steve Benbows protege 13 Jan 04 - 01:19 PM
M.Ted 13 Jan 04 - 01:15 AM
Steve Benbows protege 12 Jan 04 - 05:46 PM
M.Ted 12 Jan 04 - 12:23 AM
Gray D 11 Jan 04 - 08:05 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Jan 04 - 03:08 PM
M.Ted 10 Jan 04 - 11:43 AM
George Papavgeris 10 Jan 04 - 05:56 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Jan 04 - 03:21 PM
Jacob B 09 Jan 04 - 03:02 PM
M.Ted 09 Jan 04 - 02:08 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Jan 04 - 01:24 PM
M.Ted 09 Jan 04 - 12:48 AM
Metchosin 08 Jan 04 - 08:57 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Jan 04 - 07:56 PM
M.Ted 08 Jan 04 - 06:57 PM
Gray D 08 Jan 04 - 06:35 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Jan 04 - 06:07 PM
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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 Jan 18 - 04:55 AM

BTW it isn't in hijaz, but hijazkar - hijaz doesn't have a sharpened seventh. Because of the weirdness of Greek transliteration, it's sometimes spelt "hitziazkar" in transliterations of Greek sources, but isn't pronounced like that.

If Misirli Ibrahim Efendi wrote it, this may be of interest:

biography in Turkish

That site (surprisingly, given its coverage) only has one piece by him, and it isn't "Misirlou".

My guess would be that the tune is much older - it's an archetypal kind of melody for the hijazkar mode, which was known to the ancient Greeks and one of the commonest modes across India. Anybody noodling in that mode could come up with it. When I was learning the flute I used a tunebook by Quinto Maganini which had a piece which he said was a Greek lament from Sicily - almost the same tune but a slightly different rhythm, which he said matched a chorus in a play by Sophocles.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 31 Jan 18 - 03:50 AM

1939 Floridian take. Part of the WPA Writer's Project.

At Florida Memory: Misirlou (Castrounis)
(first song)

Library of Congress Catalog: Misirlou (Castrounis)

Performance Note: "Misirlou" (vocals) performed by Jennie Castrounis at Jacksonville, Florida, on October 4, 1939.

Recorded by Alton C. Morris.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: GUEST,Emel from Turkey
Date: 23 Dec 11 - 04:27 AM

Misirli Udi Ibrahim Efendi translates as Ibrahim - the Eygptian Ud-Master. ( Ud- Oud- The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths. The oud is readily distinguished by its lack of frets and smaller neck.) He lived in Cairo most of his life. He both sang, and was a saz player, and he was also a great composer. He's known to compose for the Synagogue too. He was also one of the teachers in Mehterhane ( Band of Musicians of the Palace) He died in 1948 in Istanbul ( not in 1938 as I mistakenly wrote down) The Turkish sources that say that this composer composed Misirlou are quite serious sources, but it probably can't be verified 100 %. ( If it were, the inheritors of Ibrahim Efendi would gain a fortune from the song's rights :)).)

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: GUEST,Emel from turkey
Date: 22 Dec 11 - 05:37 PM

I have made quite a research on the song , Turkish sources say it was Composed by Misirli Udi Ibrahim Efendi ( Born in 1879 in Aleppo, his real name is Avram Levi , and he's a Jewish Ottoman. He's known as a great Turkish Classical Songs composer. He's known to have composed more thasn 500 songs, but only 56 can be proven to be his. He died in 1938 in Istanbul. He is known to be Eygptian because he lived in Eygpt most of his life.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Monique
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 09:04 PM

See this whole thread for a translation.

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Subject: RE: Lyr. Add: Misirlu (Sephardic)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 04:08 PM

Sephardic, Turkey

No pretendas mas ke to me amas
Ni te 'sforses a virtir lagrimas,
Yo ya lo supe ke era por enganyar,
Esto es un fakto ke no puedes nyegar.

Ah...Ahh... Misirlu
Es muy amargo, ah es muy amargo el sufrir
Ma no por esto uno deve murir.

Munchos anyos t'esperi en vanedad
Kreyendo ke tu amor era verdad
Me amurchates propyo kom'una flor
I me forsates a bivir kon dolor.


Algun diya sufrira tu korason
I konoceras lo ke es la trahisyon,
Komo lo yoro ansi tu yoraras,
I konsuelo nunkua no toparas.


No translation provided.

From Leaflet with cd, Kantikas para syempre, Los Pasaros Sefardis. Turkish Sephardic music.

The tune is probably much older than the lyrics, and seems widespread in the Mediterranean-Ottoman region.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Genie
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 03:46 PM

This audio is supposed to be the original Misirlou

Manolis Angelopoulos - Misirlou

Manolis Angelopoulos - MISIRLOU (Egyptian Girl)
Μανώλης Αγγελόπουλος - Μισιρλού
מנוליס אנגלופולוס - מיסירלו(ילדה מצריה)

Lyrics in Greek:
Μισιρλού μου η γλυκειά σου η ματιά
φλόγα μ' έχει ανάψει μέσ' την καρδιά
Αχ γιαχαμπίμπι αχ γιαλελέλι αχ
τα δυό σου χείλη στάζουν μέλι ωϊμέ

Αχ Μισιρλού μαγική ξωτική ομορφιά
τρέλλα θα μ' έρθη, δεν υποφέρω πιά
Αχ θα σε κλέψω μέσ' απ' την Αραπιά
Αχ Μισιρλού μαγική ξωτική ομορφιά

Μαυρομάτα Μισιρλού μου τρελλή
η ζωή μου αλλάζει μ' ένα φιλί
Αχ Γιαχαμπίμπι μ' ένα φιλάκι αχ
απ' το δικό σου το στοματάκι ωϊμέ

Lyrics in English:
My Misirlou (Egyptian girl), your sweet glance
Has lit a flame in my heart.
Ah, ya habibi, Ah, ya leh-leli, ah (Arabic: Oh, my love, Oh, my night‎)[2]
Your two lips are dripping honey, ah.

Ah, Misirlou, magical, exotic beauty.
Madness will overcome me, I can't endure [this] any more.
Ah, I'll steal you away from the Arab land.

My black-eyed, my wild Misirlou,
My life changes with one kiss
Ah, ya habibi, one little kiss, ah
From your sweet little lips, ah.

מִיסִרְלוּ / מיוונית, יעקב מעוז

מִיסִרְלוּ, מְתוּקָת-עֵנִיִים, יְפֵהפִיָה,

מַבְעִירָה בִּי אַהֲבָה בִּלְתִי שְׁפוּיָה.

אַךְ יָא חַבִּיבִּי, אַך יָא לֵלֵה לִי, אַךְ

דְבָשׁ-שְׂפַתָיִיך כַּמָה מָתוֹק לִי, אַךְ.

אַךְ, מִיסִרְלוּ, יְחִידָה, מַדְהִימָה בְּיוֹפְיָה.

כְּבַר הִשְׁתַגַעְתִּי, נַפְשִׁי בְיָדָיִיך שְׁבוּיָה.

אַךְ, עוֹד אֵחְטוֹף אוֹתָך מְאַרְצֵך, עַרְבִיָה.

שְׁחוּמָה מְטוֹרֶפֵת מִיסִרְלוּ אַת שֶׁלִי,

נְשִׁיקָה אַחַת שִׁנְתָה הַכּוֹל בִּשְׁבִילִי.

אַךְ, יָא חַבִּיבִּי, רַק נְשִׁיקוֹנֶת, אַךְ,

מִפִּיך הַמְתַקְתָק רַק נְשִׁיקוֹנֶת אַךְ.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 02:11 PM

Glad to see that my mis-spelling was good for something!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Aug 11 - 02:10 PM

A version by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Aug 07 - 11:47 PM

Article on Greek origin of "Miserlou." original in rebetika style from Asia Minor, with Greek refugees. Author unknown.
"Initially composed as a Greek zeibekiko dance, at a slower tempo and a different key...than performances that most are familiar with today. This was the style of the first known recording by Michael Patrinos in Greece, ca. 1930; a second recording was made by Patrinos in New York in 1931."

Greek lyrics and translation provided. As with other articles from this site, no documentation is provided.

If this is the beginning, than the Sephardic versions are late, and are translations. I will look further to see if anything that is older Sephardic or Hassidic can be found. The version I recorded supposedly was collected from Sephardic Jews in Morocco.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Aug 07 - 11:04 PM

Looking for Ladino words to Miserlu. A have a recording I made from a Sephardic website some time ago, but that site is gone. I can't transcribe the words.

References to the melody are frequent, but I can't find lyrics.
This site has music, no words, for three Hassidic Songs, Nigun, Miserlu, and Nigun Bialik, by J. Dechario-no. 701605-750.

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Subject: Miserlou / Misirlou / Mizerlu - Ladino lyrics
From: Genie
Date: 29 Aug 05 - 08:42 PM


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Genie
Date: 23 Aug 05 - 03:54 PM

So glad this thread is here! I wanted the chords and lyrics to Misirlou and was delighted to find them, along with the history and Yiddish lyrics.   You 'catters are great!

One more request:

Does anyone have the Ladino lyrics to Miserlou?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Mar 05 - 09:36 PM

I have a Ladino version of "Miserlu" which I recorded from a Sephardic site sometime ago. Not fully Spanish. I believe that it came from a recording of kantikas, Djudeo-Espanyol songs, but I have been unable to relocate the album from which the song came. Any ideas would be appreciated.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Mar 05 - 08:17 PM

Edward Lear is prized by collectors of books about travels; his writing is clear and readable almost 150 years after his travels.
He is best known today for his "Nonsense Songs and Stories," still in print. In that volume is a poem to which Lear set music called "The Pelicans." I have thought about posting it in Mudcat.
First verse and chorus:
King and Queen of the Pelicans we;
No other birds so grand we see!
None but we have feet like fins!
With lovely leathery throats and chins!

Ploffskin, Pluffskin, Pelican jee!
We think no birds so happy as we!
Plumpskin, Ploshkin, Pelican jill!
We think so then, and we thought so still!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Mar 05 - 06:05 PM

Well, with a little looking googling , and some creative spelling, I have found more--here is a bit of info excerpted narrative from the Journal of the 19th Century landscape artist, Edward Lear


Descending the hill of Zermi we came in less than an hour to the vale of Tervitziana, through which the river of Suli flows ere, "previously making many turns and meanders as if unwilling to enter such a gloomy passage," it plunges into the gorge of Suli. We crossed the stream, and began the ascent on the right of the cliffs, by narrow and precipitous paths leading to a point of great height, from which the difficult pass of the Suliote glen commences.

From the precipices impending over this ravine; it is related that the Suliote women threw their children, when the contest for their liberty had come to an end.

As some notice of the Suliote history may be desirable, I and as much matter as is necessary to illustrate the subject. The mountain of Suli may be conjectured to have been occupied by Albanians about the thirteenth or fourteenth century, and when the greater part of the surrounding country lapsed to the Mohammedan faith, the race of hardy mountaineers adhered firmly to Christianity.

During the eighteenth century, the Suliotes carried on a predatory warfare with the surrounding territories of Margariti, Paramithia, &c., but when Ali Pasha, under pretext of reducing disaffected districts to the obedience due to the Sultan, had subdued all the surrounding tribes, the inhabitants of Suli found that he was an enemy, determined either by craft or force to disposses them of their ancestral inheritance. From 1788 to 1792, innumerable were the artifices of Ali to obtain possesion of this singular stronghold; in the latter year he made an attack on it, which nearly proved fatal to himself, while his army was defeated with great slaughter. In 1798, after six years of bribery and skirmishing, a portion of the territory of Suli was gained by the Mohammedans, through treachery of some inhabitants, and thenceforward the accounts of the protracted siege of this devoted people is a series of remarkable exploits and resolute defence, by Suliotes of both sexes, seldom paralleled in history.

Every foot of the tremendous passes leading to Suli was contested in blood ere the besieger gained firm footing; and after he had done so, the rock held out an incredible period, untill famine and treachery worked out the downfall of this unfortunate people.

Then in 1803, many escaped by passing through the enemy«s camp, many by paths unknown to their pursuers; numbers fled to the adjancent rocks of Zalongo and Seltzo; others destroyed themselves, together with the enemy, by gunpowder, or in a last struggle; or threw themselves into the Acheron, or from precipices. Those of this brave people who ultimately escaped to Parga, crossed over to Korfu, and thence entered to the service of Russia an France. Many since the days of Greek independence, have returned to various part of Epiris, or Greece, but they have no longer a country or a name, and the warlike tribe who, at the height of their power, formed a confederacy of sixty-six villages, may now be said to be extinct.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Mar 05 - 11:50 AM

There is a Greek song called "Ehe Jia Kaimene Kosme", which, roughly translated is, "I bid fairwell to the poor world" it is also known as "The Zalago's Dance"--it is traditionally held to be the song that about 60 women from a place called Souli sang as they, with babes in arms, jumped off Mt. Zalago--this happened in 1803, because they wanted to avoid being enslaved by the Turks--It isn't clear if they were actually dancing when they did this, or if the song was simply used for a dance--

I have often heard folk dance instructors tell this story in association with Miserlou--even when they knew it wasn't true, simply because it was a good story. As far as that goes, I am not really clear on whether this is a true story or a legend--I get curious about it from time to time, and have poked around, but never been able to find out any more about it--

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
Date: 16 Mar 05 - 03:00 AM

This all takes me back to my junior high PE classes (c. 1966), where we learned the dance. But no one has mentioned the "tradition" (spurious, no doubt) we were told of its origin: that sometime in antiquity, a city was captured, and rather than submit to their conquerors, the women of the city danced "Misirlou" hand in hand off the top of the city's wall, committing mass suicide. Does anyone know how that story got started, or when? I don't think it was original with our gym teacher! Was there perhaps a movie scene that used the music?

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: GUEST,
Date: 15 Mar 05 - 10:19 AM

Someone mentioned the Spanish translation of Misirlu, does anyone have the full text of the lyrics in Spanish? Cuando alegre tu sonries mujer...then what?

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 08:16 PM

Misr indeed is an Arabic name for the region of Egypt, hence the frequent translation as Egyptian girl.
The tune, converted to a dance by the Greeks, is known in Arabic, Jewish, Sephardic Spanish and other languages of the Mediterranean area, but its exact place of origin, age and original intent of the name Misirlu (Misirli, Misrli, etc.) is not exactly clear.

The MIT Folk Dance Club Songbook, courtesy of a Brandeis Univ. web posting, has a translation of the transliterated Greek words, posted far above (first line Misirlu mu i glika su i matya). Extremely bad translation, but mostly understandable:

Miserlu, your sweet glance
has lit a flame in my heart.
akh yakhabibi, akh ya leleli, akh,
Your lips trickle of honey, oyme!

Ah, Miserlu, magical, enchanting beauty!

Craze will come to me, I can endure no longer,
Akh! that I might steal you from Arabia.

My Miserlu, crazy, black-eyed,
One of your kisses lights a flame in me.
Akh yakhabibi, one little kiss
From your sweet mouth, oyme!

Ah, Miserlu, magical, enchanting beauty!

Craze will come to me, I can endure no longer.
Akh! that I might steal you from Arabia!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: robomatic
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 05:50 PM

This thread epitomizes what mudcat is all about at its best. Thank you.

Dum question: I have a wonderful piece of Azeri music from the 50's called "Azerbaiyan Mugam" by Fikret Amirof. I did some web searching and found that mugam was a music form. My question: Is "mugam" related to "makam" as a similar form of music?

The Azeris are an Islamic non-Arab people, who used to be one of the SSRs and are now independent.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: GUEST,Elizabeth Sener
Date: 06 Mar 05 - 05:07 PM

With much interest I read your investigations that contribute to the knowledge about the song "Misirlou", but as a Turcology student I can tell you immediatly that the word Misirli consists of two elements:
Misir (=Egypt)and -li which is indeed, like "El Greko" remarked, the Turkish suffix that can turn a noun into an adjective, so the meaning of the whole word must be: Egyptian (man/woman)!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: GUEST,Dr. Eugene Michael Dangelo, Music Educator
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 04:06 PM

I would simply like to add a note about Mrs. Brunhilde Eilers Dorsch. I had the good fortune to receive both my Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education(1977) and my Master of Music degree in Composition (1979) at the Duquesne University School of Music, and was a Eurythmics student of Mrs. Dorsch. She taught there from 1938 to 1980, and was also the moderator of the Music Educators' National Conference Student Chapter # 159, of which I was President from 1975-77. This, I had the excellent opportunity to work closely with Mrs. Dorsch, who was a great professor, and an excellent individual. She taught ALL of us the "Miserlou," and did so with great gusto and pride. I was present at her retirement celebration in 1980, and she ended that celebration with one last great snaking dance of the Miserlou with all of us who were present. She was agile to the last. After retirement, it is my understanding that she moved to Texas near her son. I believe she may have passed away, since I see that the DAlcroze Society rightly has a memorial scholarship in her honor. She made the Miserlou a happily unforgettable part of each of her students' lives.
Dr. Eugene Michael Dangelo, Music Educator, Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Matt_R
Date: 08 Aug 04 - 01:48 PM

That's funny...I always thought it was South American or something

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Aug 04 - 01:36 PM

Guest abalone, within the last month, the Sephardic website which had hundreds of Ladino songs and much scholarly discussion seems to have disappeared. I downloaded their "Miserlou" but there was no printed lyric or translation. The site also had many versions of Don Gato, whiich also entered Sephardic traditional song.
I hope the site comes back. It is still listed in Google. The Univ. California at Davis also seems to be unavailable, so the loss may be temporary.
The basic website was

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Subject: Tune Add: MISIRLOU
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 08 Aug 04 - 10:59 AM

There are lots of versions of this tune on the Web. The following is one of the simpler, and will appeal to jaded Celtic instrument players. The adventurous will find the more authentic versions courtesy of JC's TuneFinder using the search string of 'MISIRLOU'. There's an Armenian version where the second part changes to 7/8 plus a third part as well.

C:N.Roubanis 1934
Z: John Chambers
|: "D"D3 E ^F2 G2 | A3B ^c2BA | A8- | A8 |
w: 1.~Mi-sir-lou mou i gli-kia sou ma-tia
w: 2.~Mav-ro ma-ta Mi-sir-lou mou tre-lli
| D3E ^F2G2 | A3B ^c2BA | A8- | A8 |
w: Flo-ga m'e-hi~i-na-psi mes tin kar-dia
w: Ti zo-i m'al-la-zo me-na fi-li
| "Gm"BA2B A2G2 | AG2A G2^F2 | "D"^F8- | ^F8 |
w: Ah Ya-ha-bi-bi Ah Ya-le-le-li Ah
w: Ah ya-ha-bi-bi M'e-na fi-la-ki Ah
| "Cm"AG2A G2^F2 | ^FE2F E2DD | "D"D8- | D8 :|
w: ta dio sou hi-li sta-zou-ne me-li i-me
w: Ap-to di-ko sou to sto ma-ta-ki i-me
|: "Gm"G8- | G6 ^FG | "F"A8- | A6 GA | "Bm"B6 AB | "A"^c6 Bc | "D"d8- | d8 |
w: A___________ Mi-sir-lou
| "Cm"e d2 e d2 c2 | d c2 d c2 B2 | "D"A8- | A8 |
w: Tre-lla tha m'er-thi den i-po-fe-ro pia
| "Cm"c B2 c B2 A2 | A G2 A ^F2 E2 | "D"D8- | D8 :|
w: Ah tha si kle-pso mes ap tin A-ra-pia.
P: Coda
|| "Gm"B6 AB | "A"^c6 Bc | "D"d8- | d8- | d8- | d z7 |]
w: Ah___ Mi-sir-lou.

Regards, John

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: GUEST,
Date: 08 Aug 04 - 01:01 AM

So, from Turkey, I have a recording called Los Pasaros Sefaradis, & it includes a version of Miserlou in Ladino. Are there any links to Ladino lyrics, as I can't quite get all the words from the recording?

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Art Thieme
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 11:58 PM

Mudcatter, Frank Hamilton, a founder of, and first teacher at, The Old Town School Of Folk Music in Chicago, did this as an instrumental on the 5-string banjo.

It was on his LP album on Concertdisc Records called FOLSINGERS FOLKSINGER in the early 1960s.

Art Thieme

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 10:57 PM

You asked for "A link to a site explaining, in sound, the different scales/tunings around the world would be most excellent. " That's kind of a lot to ask for--for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that there are so many of them--Assuming that you are interested only in comparing Middle Eastern to Western stuff-even your Middle Eastern Singing class may not help you much--Turkish, Arabic, Persian, and Greek/Armenian music each use completely different pitch systems--so the same song, with the same notes, would have different pitches, depending on who was playing it--

UCLA used to have an Ethnomusicology site with recordngs of an Arabic oud player playing seven or eight different makams, which would give you a little to chew on, but I haven't been able to find it--

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Gray D
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 08:10 PM


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 08:05 PM

Looks like one's cookie needs refreshing.

Gray D

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 08:04 PM

M ted,

Well, thanks, but . . .

I couldn't understand a line of the 1111 site.

I'd like to meet a singer who could manage over 100 tones in several different scales, but I don't think that I would necessarily want to hear them sing.

"Dum teka teka teka dum" - much more at my level, but it wasn't the rhythm that prompted the question.

Never mind, there's bound to be a middle eastern singing workshop aroud hear one day.

Gray D

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Steve Benbows protege
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:19 PM

M.Ted That sounds about right. The middle eastern websites often leave me more confused than when I started!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 01:15 AM

I think the name of the rhythm you are playing is Chiftitelli--which is one of the main rhythms used for bellydancing--The other main one is oten called Baladi by Bellydancers, but Middle Eastern musicians tend to call it Masmoudi or Maqsoum, but it starts with two strong Dum beats--
The official sounds that are used to describe the drum patterns are Dum, Te and Ka, as in "Dum teka teka teka Dum Teka Dum".   

There are lots of websites with Middle Eastern rhythms written out this way, with the idea that it is a great way to break them down--but they always seem a bit ambiguous--meaning that you can't figure out the beat unless you know it to begin with--

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Steve Benbows protege
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 05:46 PM

Steve learnt it whilst in Egypt with the army. He learnt it whilst playing for belly dancers so it has that Arabic/flamenco beat. (Boom-chacka-chacka-boom chack. Boom chacka-chacka-boom-chack-boom-chack)
Sorry for the nuemonic above. That is the way I hear it. In the second part (after the full stop) the two boom-chack, boom-chack is where the dancer actually moves/steps forward.
Up until Steve's recent tracheotomy he always sang it in Greek as on his album "Journey into the sun."
Keep singing/playing it. It is truely one of my favourite pieces to play!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 12:23 AM

What a setup! Try this List of Musical Modes --a list of 1111 modes from, as you asked, around the world, with their intervalic structure--no sounds though--

As to the guy singing, I think, though I may be wrong, that they are Western trained musicians who are trying to create a Middle Eastern sound--

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Gray D
Date: 11 Jan 04 - 08:05 PM

M. Ted's version is the one that I used to sing, but that Sephardic mp3 - is the man singing quarter tones sometimes or does he have suspect pitching? This is not a derogatory question, I know that "Persian" musicians use saad notes that don't conform to western tuning, and I know that Georgians and others sing scales that don't match up with western ones, so can someone advise, please?

A link to a site explaining, in sound, the different scales/tunings around the world would be most excellent.

Gray D

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Jan 04 - 03:08 PM

El Greko, I tend to agree with you. We need input from a Sephardic or Arabic music scholar, which we are unlikely to get here.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Jan 04 - 11:43 AM

I think the Sephardic thing is just Miserlou played as an Arabic Rhumba to fit in with the band's particular orientation, rather than a tradtional version of the tune--it certainly is not the way that a Greek band would play it--again, the link to the folk dance history explains that the music was chosen to go with a dance that was basically a Kritikos because they didn't have any piano music(back when folkdancers didn't dance to recordings1)--Kritikos is, more or less, Syrtos, which is a circle dance--

Here are transliterated greek lyrics from another page at the Touchstone link that Q provided above, though with no source, and, since I don't know greek, I have no idea how they relate to the English and Spanish words:

Misirlu mu i glika su i matya.

Flogha míekhi anapsi mes tin kardia.

Akh yakhabibi, akh ya leleli akh

ta dyo su khili stazune meli oyme.

Ah, Misirlu, mayiki, soviki, omortis.

Trela tha murthi, den ipofero pia

Akh na se klepso mesa spo tin arapia.

Misirlu mavromata mu treli

Flogha míekhi anapsi ena su fili.

Akh yakhabibi ena filaki ya.

Ap to gliko su to stomataki oyme.

Akh Misirlu, mayiki soviki omorfis.

Trela tha murthi, then ipofero pia.

Akh na se klepso mes sp tin arapis.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 10 Jan 04 - 05:56 AM

So far we've seen lots of references to the Americanized version of Roubanis (which misses some of the details I am familiar with, at least listening to the Mandolirium version), but little to indicate provenance beyond that. Normally that would provide corroboration for the claims that Roubanis wrote it. But I still doubt that. And nobody has explained the existence of an early Sephardic version, according to Q's link (which version, by the way, DOES have the details I remember, which rather causes me to think that Roubanis SIMPLIFIED the original for western tastes as part of his adaptation).
The Greeks would never use Misirlu for a circle dance, by the way - we would consider it inappropriate, too "Arabic" for that. As somebody mentioned, the rhythm is the beguin, and the Greeks would (do!) use it for facing-pair freestyle dance, which we have copied from the Arabic countries via Turkey.
The name "Misirlu" gives conflicting clues: "Misir"-unhappy-Latin root Supports the Sephardic theory. The ending "lu" however is the Turkish "li" (without the dot over the "i"), that commonly turns a noun to an adjective ("misery" to "miserable").
Listening to the tune, I would classify it as "Mediterranean folk"; could be Arabic (Lebanese, Maroccan, Egyptian) or Hasidic/ Sepharding. Almost certainly not Greek (I would bet money on that actually). But it appeals to the peoples of all the Mediterranean countries (even Southern French and Italian, though they would deem it more "exotic").
Me, I just like it...and remember times in my misspent youth humming it with friends on deserted beaches during the magic hour between evening and night.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 03:21 PM

Jacob B, a good summary of the Dance aspect.
I remain curious about the version sung in the Kantikas folder of the "Index of Cultura and Civilizacion, Sefardi (Sephardic)/Musica," linked in my post of 07 Jan 04, 06:46 PM (above), and the claims about it being an old Lebanese, Sephardic, Hasidic song.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Jacob B
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 03:02 PM

Here's what seems to me like a definitive history of the tune - especially about how the dance got attached to it.


    Misirlou, Never on Sunday, etc. [VERY long]

    From EEFC list

    Excerpted from the 1994 Folk Dance Problem Solver, (c) Ron Houston and
    the Society of Folk Dance Historians. Sorry it's so long, even without
    the instructions and lyrics, but some stories should not be abbreviated.
    Please note that the block quote and footnotes formatting do not appear
    here and that others provided many significant words.
    MISIRLOU (me-zir-loo) = my unhappy one [according to the author, who
    probably knew better but didn't want to confuse the listening public]


    Cuando alegre tu sonries mujer - Spanish lyrics for Misirlou
    Desert shadows creep across purple sands - English lyrics for Misirlou
    Miserlou, Misery Lou - prevalent misspellings
    Misirlou Variations, Never On Sunday, Hasamisu
    Snake Dance - the name among some Girl Scouts

    "Is Misirlou Greek?"
    "Well, a Greek-American re-choreographed the Cretan prototype, making it
    Greek by parantage and early development. Another Greek-American
    selected music which was written by a Greek, making it Greek by design
    and by marriage. And Greeks around the world and especially in Buffalo,
    New York have taken it as their own, making it Greek by adoption."
    "Okay, it's Greek!"
    "But it wasn't created in Greece! And those students weren't creating a
    product of Greek culture! And the music has absolutely nothing to do
    with Greece. Just read the words! It isn't a Greek Syrto, it's a Latin
    Beguine with an Arabian theme!"
    "Okay, it's not Greek!"
    Seriously though, the question of whether Misirlou is Greek or
    recreational, folk or popular, or meritous or not depends on the use to
    which you put it and on your definitions of "Greek" and "folk." So I
    suggest we call Misirlou a Greek dance for purposes of classification,
    but not for purposes of description. That way, you can locate this dance
    description through a search for Greek dances, read the background, and
    decide for yourself.

    Quoting Brunhilde Dorsh (no, she's not Greek):
    In the year 1945, the Duquesne University Folk Dancers, a group of
    girls who shared my enthusiasm for dancing, were asked to participate in
    a music-and-dance program to honor America's allies of World War II. The
    program was titled: "Music and Dance of Poland, Greece, Chechoslovakia
    and Jugoslavia" and was arranged by the Tuesday Musical Club of
    Pittsburgh. I knew no Greek dances, but the girls in their quick and
    enterprising way discovered two girls on the campus who were of Greek
    background: Patricia Mandros and Mercine Nesotas. Both knew something
    about Greek folk dances and Pat could play the piano. (We had no records
    at that time.) Before long we had learned the Hasapikos and Kritikos.
    However, Pat had no piano music for the Kritikos, apparently it was not
    as popular in Pittsburgh as other Greek dances. In desperation one day,
    she brought with her and gave to me a copy of "Misirlou" - an Arabian
    Serenade by Roubanis. She suggested that this music would come as close
    to the right kind of music as anything she could find, and so we adapted
    the dance to this tune.
    When we first performed this dance as "Kritikos" on the above
    mentioned program at Stephen Foster Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh on March
    6, 1945, I carefully explained to the audience that the dance had been
    adapted. After the program the girls, who had learned to like the dance
    very much, suggested using it as a "theme dance" on other programs and
    demonstrations, and thus it began to move off-campus and into the larger
    folk dance world. Monty Mayo, leader of the Community Folk Dance Group
    of Pittsburgh at that time, introduced it in New York. Michael Herman
    first listed it in his catalogue, Standard F-9044, a "Pittsburgh Greek,"
    and eventually suggested calling it "Misirlou" to avoid confusion with
    the genuine Kritikos. The dance was first notated by Mimi Kirkell and
    Irma Schaffnit in their book: Partners All, Places All, E.P. Dutton and
    Company, 1949. I introduced this dance at Oglebay Park camp during the
    Labor Day weekend of 1948. I was delighted to find this dance enjoyed by
    the Oglebayites and by the folk dancers elsewhere.
    As the dance has gone its way, interesting "folk lore" has attached
    itself. For example, the Girl Scouts in this area call it the "Snake
    Dance." A student at Duquesne, who had never seen the title of this
    dance in print, once wrote me for information concerning the availability
    of this record and referred to this dance as "Misery Lou." We still get
    a good laugh out of that and at times refer to it that way ourselves.
    Here endeth then, the story of Misirlou.


    Anne Pittman learned Misirlou at Oglebay and introduced it to Southern
    California in the early 1950s, and this Beguine lilted along, changing
    but little. In the late 1950s, the Armenian community of Southern
    California either adopted or inspired the linked-little-fingers handhold,
    set the dance to Armenian renditions of that Latin Misirlou, and inspired
    a new family of dances, the Armenian Miserlou (see page 1 of this book).

    Art Schrader observed "A circle dance from Greece as done by the Youth
    Group in the Greek Orthodox Church in Buffalo," and presented the
    resultant Syrto at Oglebay Institute, 1955 and at an unspecified
    Pittsburgh Camp. Although he used Liberty Record 17-B, Panagiositsa, a
    Syrto with Helen Yianakakis singing, the dance is identical to Misirlou
    and Misirlou Variations.

    In 1960, Never On Sunday became the first foreign song to win an
    Academy Award and spent 14 weeks on the Top Ten list, inspiring in 1967
    the musical Illya Darling with new lyrics by Joe Darion, and yet more
    lyrics by Billy Towne in 1968. And what does this have to do with
    Misirlou? Well, Bob Wischnick (or Wiechnick), formerly of Wheeling, West
    Virginia, learned Misirlou from Buffalo-area Greeks (sound familiar?),
    allegedly added two Hasapiko-like variations to the Misirlou step, called
    it Hasa Misu, and set it to Never On Sunday. The name, perhaps derived
    from Hasapiko and Misirlou, later became Hasamisu and was said to
    represent the "real" Greek dance from which Misirlou was derived.
    Whether Art Schrader or Bob Wischnick/Wiechnick "discovered" Misirlou
    Variations really doesn't matter now, since they both learned from the
    same source, that Greek Orthodox community in Buffalo.
    By the way, our Greek Orthodox friends here in Austin translated
    hasamisu as a rude phrase meaning "Go engage in sexual intercourse with
    yourself." When you stop laughing, consider this: unless Buffalo Greeks
    or Bob W. perpetrated the name as a jest, it illustrates one problem of
    creating or accepting "fakelore," the problem of translating significance
    from one culture to another. At least one recreational group in America
    is named "Always on Sunday." Good thing they didn't name themselves

    AND NOW:
    The subsequent and continuing decline of international folk dancing has
    not diminished the popularity of Misirlou as Greeks around the world
    embrace it as their own, providing an example of the phenomenon that folk
    dancers legitimize with the label "reverse osmosis." Lest you fret
    further for the future fortunes of faux Kritiokos, know that also
    Eurythmics teachers and Surfers preserve it:

    I taught some folk dances at a summer program for eurythmics teachers
    [...] Of course we had to do Miserlou and they told me how the dance had
    come to be. [...] the Beach Boys recorded a version of Miserlou
    (instrumental only). It's on their Surfin' USA album. It's a bit faster
    than the Miserlou I'm used to - obviously I need to go back and dance the
    original Kritikos/Syrtos Haniotikos to it.

    What's Eurythmics? Well, it's obviously no kin to Eugenics else we might
    not have Misirlou/Never On Sunday/Hasamisu to dance. Quoting Jere
    Paulmeno: "I encourage folk dancers to dance haniotiko syrto to its
    native music. The traditional music of Crete is beautiful in its own
    right, thrilling to dance to, and requires no foreign substitution."

    We had danced Misirlou and Never On Sunday/Hasamisu for some years when
    George Lowrey presented a rather different dance (resembling the Greek
    Slow Hasapiko) to Never On Sunday at the 1967 Texas Camp. Quoting
    George's directions: "This particular version probably originated in
    And Brunhilde? Art Hurst cites the Carnegie-Mellon Alumni News of June,
    1980: "Mrs. [Brunhilde E.] Dorsch retired in May after 42 years with
    Duquesne University's School of Music."

    [Extensive instructions omitted for brevity. They wouldn't format well,

    I was curious about composer Nicholas Roubanis. A little research
    uncovered some of his writings: approximately 8 works on Greek liturgical
    music, a Rumba medley arrangement of Quie'reme mucho, Be'same mucho, and
    Misirlou, and music and Greek lyrics for Misirlou as a Beguine, the
    lyrics of which follow.

    [Extensive lyrics omitted for brevity. They wouldn't format well,

    Also known as Syrtos Haniotikos or Kritikos Syrtos (see page 17 of
    this Folk Dance Problem Solver).
    N. Roubanis. Misirlou. New York: Colonial Music Publishing Company,
    1927, 1934, 1941. Note that this is a Beguine, not a Tango as some folk
    call it.
    Brunhilde Dorsh. "How Misirlou Came Into Being" in Viltis 17:5
    (October-November 1958), p. 21-2.
    "Misirlou" in Let's Dance (April 1962), p. 15.
    "SYRTO Taught by Art. Schrader." in Oglebay Institute 1955 (syllabus).
    Oglebay Park, West Virginia: 1955; and Texas Folk Dance Camp 1967
    (syllabus). Austin, Texas: Texas International Folk Dancers, 1967, as
    reprinted from "Hasamisu" Folk Dance House dance instruction sheet.
    Words and music by Manos Hadjidakis.
    Julius Mattfeld. Variety Music Cavalcade 1620-1961. Englewood
    Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1962.
    Elston Brooks. I've Heard Those Songs Before. New York: Morrow Quill
    Paperbacks, 1981.
    Richard Lewine and Alfred Simon. Songs of the American Theater. New
    York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1973.
    William Gargan and Sue Sharma, eds. Find That Tune. New York:
    Neal-Schuman Publishers, 1984.
    Constance V. Mynatt and Bernard D. Kaiman. Folk Dancing for Students
    and Teachers. Dubuque: Wm. C. Brown, 1968, p 74.
    Stan Isaacs. Internet rec.folk-dancing newsgroup message 4823, August
    12, 1994.
    Warren Kubitschek. internet rec.folk-dancing newsgroup message 4852,
    August 15, 1994.
    "Comments & Letters" in Viltis 44:4 (December 1985), p. 34.
    Texas Camp 1967 (Syllabus).
    Art Hurst. internet rec.folk-dancing newsgroup message 4733, August 9,
    James J. Fuld. The Book of World-Famous Music, rev. & enl. ed. New
    York: Crown, 1971, p. 388.

Copy-pasted from the link cited above.
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 02:08 PM

The lyrics hardly seem like Greek love poetry to me,Q--more like Tin Pan Alley. Many foreign language songs have had new lyrics written for them--usually because the original lyrics lacked the snappy glibness or simple emotions that make a song a "Popular Hit"--

Anyway, I've heard this song performed many times by Middle Eastern and Balkan bands in clubs, at Church Festivals, for regular dancing and belly dancing, etc and never heard anyone sing the lyrics. I've also played it a lot over the years, since every Balkan and Middle Eastern musician knows it, and never, at a party, a jam, or even at Balkan Music Camp, had anyone sing it--

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 01:24 PM

Still unexplained- how did the dance get attached to the love poem? Looks like a Greek addition, but I guess no one knows.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 12:48 AM

From the "Way more than you want to know" Department--

When played in D, the Makam Hijaz is actually called Makam Shahnaz--the proper name for it it in C is Makam Hijaz Kar, in G it is Makam Shadd Arban, and in A it is Makam Suzidil--Makams tend to be a combination of tetrachords(four consecutive notes), with different interval patterns having different names--and this makam is consists of two Hijaz tetrachords(Hijaz has the pattern halfstep-step and a half-halfstep), one starting on the fundamental, D, and one starting on the dominant, A--In Arabic music, the Eb tends to be played a bit higher and the F# a bit lower so the 1 1/2 step interval is softened slightly.

A kind of funny thing is that, though Middle Eastern melodies often use a slightly different makam ascending and descending, Miserlou does not--Hijaz is one of the most commonly used tetrachords, though, so it seems natural that Miserlou, which uses two of them, would be one of the most popular songs-

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Metchosin
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 08:57 PM

This song has also been in use for some time as a standard in the world of Belly Dancing, hence Mandolirium's use of finger cymbals or Sagat or Sunouj in their rendition.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 07:56 PM

Thanks, MTed. Found several references to its Middle Eastern scale, but you have explained it.
More trivia- Carol Bruce (Shirley Levy) first starred in "Louisiana Purchase," a 1940 musical by Irving Berlin. One of her last roles was in "WKRP in Cincinnati."

Roubanis et al. put out the modern popular "Miserlou" in 1941, not 1947, as mentioned by Joe for Great Song Thesaurus.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 06:57 PM

Miserlou is in the Arabic Hijaz makam, which is a scale that features two 1 1/2 tone intervals-

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Gray D
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 06:35 PM

DAMN, but that was good! Used to do this with a group a few years ago but they always pitched it too high for me so that the "operatic" singer could do her big top notes. The one on the Zemerl site was just right. Just a joy to sing again.

Thanks, Joe.

Gray D

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Miserlou
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 06:07 PM

Roubanis is(was?) Greek-American. He never claimed to have been the originator of the song, garnering it from his heritage, revising the music into the popular song of the 40s (labelled on my old bakelite red label Decca, "Miserlou" (N. Roubanis, F. Wise, M. Leeds and K. Russell), Victor Young Orch.). Words are those posted by WillH near the top of this thread.
The flip side is another remake, "Red Moon of The "Caribees,"" which is based on "Cancion del Mar," by Jose Sabre Marroquin. The Bruce album also has "The Lamp of Memory," based on "Incertidumbre," originally by Gonzalo Guriel but redone by Al Stilman. A lot of this revision has been done to make foreign songs more palatable or interesting for North Americans. Who can forget the Hadjidakis song "Ta Pedia Ton Pirea," (The Children of Piraeus), which became "Never On Sunday" with its content and message completely changed.

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Mudcat time: 25 January 2:38 PM EST

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