Model Role Details

Elias Jubran

Elias Jubran

Sector : Cultural Figures , Singers / Musicians

Personal Info

  • Country of residence : Palestine
  • Gender : Male
  • Born in : 1933
  • Age : 79
  • Curriculum vitae :

Information

Elias Jubran (born 1933), a music teacher and oud builder in Al Jaleel in Galileo who lived very different life in Palestine, or has indeed left the country in search of a more open existence.

After the expulsion of the Palestinians and the setting up of the state of Israel in 1948, the young Palestinian Elias Jubran stayed on in the place where he was born. Because of the political situation, he and his family live in total isolation. Music provides him with an escape. Telling Strings shows the intense interplay of music and politics in one of the world’s most politically explosive regions.

Achievements and Awards

He was first acquainted with the oud, his favorite instrument, thanks to his neighbor. “In 1954, when I was a young man, I heard music coming from the house of our neighbor Jad. I followed the sound until I found him playing the oud on the balcony of his home,” he said.
 
“He had a piece of paper in front of him that did not seem to have anything to do with musical notation. On the paper, the writing said “third finger, one strum; second string, two strums.” It was the tune of the song Marmar Zamani, Jubran recalled.
 
Jubran took the oud from his neighbor, and started humming the song and playing the instrument without having had any previous experience. “I learned by observing Jad’s fingers as they plucked the strings.”

He has been fond of the instrument ever since that moment. Jubran borrowed his neighbor’s oud for two weeks, during which he was able to learn to play 10 folklore songs often heard at weddings.
When the two weeks were over, Jubran had to return the instrument. He decided to get his own oud, but did not have enough money for that, as its price was anywhere from 200 to 500 liras (the equivalent of three salaries at the time). In the end, he had to sacrifice a little, and make do with a violin he bought for just 19 liras. After he took it home, he tuned it to play like an oud.
 
Later he decided to study music, but the only way he could achieve that was to gather seven youths from the village who also wanted to study music. The eight of them chipped in to hire a tutor to teach them.
 
For two months, Jubran attended weekly music lessons given by Sidqi Shukri. But eight lessons later, he decided to leave the group and study music on his own.
 
Jubran said, “I would ask anyone who travelled to bring back a book about music, even if it is in Hindi.” Why? “Because in the Palestinian territories, we were cut off from the Arabs and the outside world; we couldn’t get music books from abroad,” he replied.
 
In 1959, Jubran married, and moved with his wife Nuhad to Acre, to live in a rooftop home near the port. He took a job at a factory near Acre that paid 300 liras a month.
 
Although he still had the violin, it did not quench his desire for an oud. But he could not face paying a month’s salary for a new one. “I decided to make my own oud,” Jubran said. He then spent 6 months designing and creating his own instrument, which he has since lost, as he told Al-Akhbar with an air of sorrow.

After consulting with a relative of his, he bought the wooden pieces required to make the instrument. Thus began Jubran’s journey of making his first oud, relying on what he remembered about the one he once borrowed from his neighbor Jad.
He would work on his oud project after coming back from work at four or five in the afternoon. After he completed the instrument’s ribs and the face — as well as the ins and outs of its body — it was time to install the pegs.
 
Jubran — whose children Khalid and Camelia are also now musicians — went to a carpenter’s shop in Acre, and asked the owner to make him 12 pegs after sketching their shape for him. On the next day, he went back, picked them up, and paid 12 liras. “That was more than my daily salary,” Jubran joked.
 
After installing the pegs on the oud’s neck, he went to Haifa to buy the strings from al-Muluk Street, and then back to his home in Acre. He slotted the strings into the instrument and then tuned it.
 
By that time, six months had passed since he began making it. “It is difficult to describe how I felt; I was above the clouds,” Jubran proclaims.
 
Jubran later branched out from oud making, producing his first bouzouk after a request from his son. “Khalid asked me once to make him a bouzouk. I did not know how to make one, but I still pulled it off at the first attempt,” he said.

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