Ziryab, Past and Present


I saw a blackbird outside my kitchen window yesterday. It is a beautiful bird, and has a beautiful voice. I found out that the males sing to mark their territory. I hope that means he will be staying!

The bird made me think of a famous blackbird in history. Ziryab was a genius of a musician, fashion designer, and gourmet. He was called Ziryab, which means “blackbird,” for his dark complexion and melodious singing voice.  Originally from Persia and Iraq, he traveled to Andalusia where he revolutionized their music, food, and fashion.  Check out this article about him:

Flight of the Blackbird

Written by Robert W. Lebling Jr.

If you eat asparagus, or if you start your meal with soup and end with dessert, or if you use toothpaste, or if you wear your hair in bangs, you owe a lot to one of the greatest musicians in history.

He was known as Ziryab, a colloquial Arabic term that translates as “blackbird.” He lived in medieval Spain more than a thousand years ago. He was a freed slave who made good, charming the royal court at Córdoba with his songs. He founded a music school whose fame survived more than 500 years after his death. Ibn Hayyan of Córdoba, one of Arab Spain’s greatest historians, says in his monumental Al-Muqtabas (The Citation) that Ziryab knew thousands of songs by heart and revolutionized the design of the musical instrument that became the lute. He spread a new musical style around the Mediterranean, influencing troubadours and minstrels and affecting the course of European music.  Read more…


5 responses to “Ziryab, Past and Present

  1. Baby blackbirds are quite comical. I once took care of some of them and they were hilarious. They were in a large cage with other baby birds of different breeds. And you are right–they talk quite a bit!

  2. Thanks for introducing Ziryab, I didn’t know about this interesting personality. Right now I am looking him up in wiki. There are additional links.

  3. There was one in my yard a few days ago. She actually came back several times and pulled up worm after worm from my grass. We had no idea there were so many earthworms in our yard.

    We had great fun watching her and I hope she comes back soon. It’s nice to see something besides a pigeon, you know? Not that pigeons are bad or anything, but, we like variety. 🙂

  4. i think of you all the time when we see birds outside our window. we’ve seen a woodpecker, sparrows, loads of robins, and just saw a cardinal today. plus there’s this one gray-brown bird with a white band on its tails and wings that i can’t figure out. it’s definitely spring!

  5. I haven’t seen the blackbird again. 😦

    Kori, how are you doing? Yes, there must be a lot of birds outside in GA right now. I remember going outside last spring and seeing swarms of robins eating berries from the trees in our “yard.”

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