To tie in with our review of her Inner Rhyme CD, Lebanese violinist Layale Chaker explains why she finds musical inspiration in Arabic poetry

Layale Chaker

Layale Chaker

1. As in other types of literature, classical Arabic poetry is built on the principle of scansion: it has a mathematical intricacy which gives it a very rhythmical and visceral quality.

That kind of intricacy isn’t obvious on the surface, but when you look closely, you’ll see that the structure is based on numbers.

In a way it’s similar to a piece of music, which can also be appreciated for its surface beauty as well as, on a micro-level, the beauty of its numerical complexity.

2. In the Middle East you hear poetry everyday. Vernacular poetry, classical poetry - it all gets recited at weddings, funerals and other sorts of social gatherings.

And that’s why I wanted to come back to it: I missed its presence in my life and I wanted to share that aspect of my culture.

3. Reading Arabic poetry is like reading an alternative history of the world: you hear about love, exile, death, love, longing: things that have been carried around for centuries and which are not culture-specific. It speaks to every person on earth.

4. Whether you’re dealing with classical Arabic poetry, or modern free verse which is all about breaking the rules, you’ll always find a satisfying unity between word and melody.

The beauty of the language is mirrored in the beauty of the structure, and by showcasing a diverse range of poems in my CD, I hope to make that sense of unity more apparent.

Read our review of Inner Rhyme, Chaker’s recording of Arabic poetry-inspired chamber jazz.