Sung poetry in Umm Kulthum’s films : a linguistic and musical analysis



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The beloved songs of Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum exist today not only in collective memory, but as a vital part of the soundscape of contemporary Egyptian life and social discourse. The lyrics of Umm Kulthum's songs represent some of the best-known poetry of the Arab world, written in a range of styles by Egyptian and non-Egyptian poets. In this thesis I examine the intertwined nature of poetry and song through study of the [sung poems] of Umm Kulthum's musical films. Because sung poetry is often inseparable from its sounded performance, I draw on methodologies from musicology, linguistics, and poetics to explore the aesthetics of the [sung poems] through interactions of form, register, music, and meaning. The detailed study of these intersecting features contributes new insight into the role of performance in shaping language register and meaning.