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date: 20 January 2020

Zajal (Arab.: ‘happy noise’, ‘song’; Sp. zéjel)locked

  • L.P. Harvey,
  • Jack Sage
  •  and Susana Friedmann


(Arab.: ‘happy noise’, ‘song’; Sp. zéjel)

A kind of strophic song with refrain (see Arab music §II 3., (ii)). This use of the word goes back at least as far as the 12th century, being found in the zajal texts of Ibn Quzmān (d 1160); it probably originated in Muslim Spain. Since about 1912 it has been used by European scholars in discussing the origins of medieval Iberian poetry: the Mūwashshaḥ has usually five but sometimes up to six strophes, the zajal sometimes even more. A characteristic verse form for the zajal was AA bbba ?AA, and for the mūwashshaḥ AA bbb AA as well as others such as AB cccb AB and even extreme elaborations such as ABCABC defdefdef ABCABC. These songs differed from other early refrain songs such as the villancico in that the stanza always contained a three-line monorhyme (bbb, ccc, etc.) or other tripartite rhymes (bcbcbc, defdefdef, etc.). In the case of the ...

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Early Music
Revista de musicología