Tambur songs of the Shayqiyya group are a type of music performed with the Tambur stringed instrument and some drums such as the Dalluka and Shatam (hand-held drum). They follow a specific rhythm pattern called ad-Dalib.
A Shayqiyya or Dalib song is performed by the lead singer assisted by two to seven backup vocalists who alternate in repeating the lyrics with lead vocalist. The band’s singing is mixed with theatrical performance and dancing. Shayqiyya songs have originated along the Banks of the River Nile in the area inhabited by the Shayqiyya group in Northern State, but like members of the group, the songs have spread to the center and other parts of the country. The term Shayqiyya connected to the lyrics culture of these songs include the Bidairiyya and Manasir groups living in the same area. The songs are varied; there are individual and collective singing, and there is a type in which male and female performers are chanting as duets. Singing may either be accompanied by musical instruments or is performed vocally in the form of couplets in which the musical structures are repeated in a rhythm called ad-Dalaib. The lyrics of the Shayqiyya songs are distinguished by boldness, powerful presentation of feelings and simple style. They are eloquent, diverse and comprehensive in themes that gives the music additional effect. The elaborate aesthetic image portrayal embodied in the lyrics, expresses the cultural values of the community. Some of them may contain messages of blame and admonition that are answered by songs expressing apology or explanations and requests for forgiveness, especially those which quote women whose husbands or children have left and remained away for too long. The songs express blame, reprimand and longing for the absent loved ones, often answered by the other party.
The main instrument, the Tambur, is five-stringed played by a malleable plastic piece. The rhythm becomes heavier or lighter in response to the song’s lyrics. The audience interacts so powerfully with the singing and dancing, it is considered part of the performers. The lead singer and the backup team dress in Jallabiya (loose garment), Sidairi (waist coat), skullcap and Markub leather traditional shoes. Women danacers invariably wear the Sudanese Toub and dress their hair in long braids which they throw sideways over the cheering mail partners heads, a gay interactive gesture called Shabbal. Shayqiyya songs are performed in courtyards of homes, squares, club theatres and celebration halls. The musical culture of Shayqiyya occupies a unique place among the styles of national folk music in Sudan. It is characterized by the absence of social or ritual restrictions that prevent others outside the group from using it or interacting with it. Shayqiyya songs is a living ICH element that managed to survive the changes in Sudanese music and to retain much of its distinctive features.
NCCH (National Council for Culture Heritage and the Promotion of National Language