Danielle Capalbo’s Blog

International sounds

Posted in Sounds of the Middle East by Quiet Giant on April 29, 2009

Reading Jared’s first post made for a serendipitous moment. He wrote about his older brother – a drummer – who inadvertently soundtracks their house with beats while he practices. As I sat down to type this entry, my brother was finessing a drum solo in the garage.

Like Jared’s, our cellar rumbles regularly with the sound of William‘s double-bass. He’s a die-hard heavy metal-head who strives to emulate, as accurately as possible, the pummeling work of bands like Slayer and Pantera. That’s trouble. Not only is he loud, but he practices with the repetitive penchant of a rock-and-roll perfectionist. So it’s relentless, too. Good.

In a familial context, my brother’s stentorian skills are par for the course. My mother sings, my dad plays bass and banjo, my step-dad plays drums, my sister plays the bells. You know, Partridge Family stuff.

The point is, we like music.

As a result, some of my first thoughts regarding this trip were, “What kind of records could I rummage through in Cairo?” and, “How heartbroken would I be to leave them behind, out of logistical necessity?” (Remember:  pack light.) It’s even possible I fantasized about mimicking Arjuna Sayyed’s crate-digging voyage through Kolkata, India, for Wax Poetics.

Apparently, contemporary Egypt is experiencing a roots revival, resurrecting fellahin and Nubian sonic traditions. You can listen to field recordings of country side music here, as gathered by Aisha Ali. She’s a preeminent scholar and practitioner of Middle Eastern dance and song who has compiled field recordings from places like Tunis and North Africa, too.

Otherwise, I’ve got no clue about Middle Eastern music, but Jared’s post reminded me to investigate. Whatever it sounds like – from the streets to the radio – I’ll have my recorder switched on.

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