“Music penetrates everything”


“Music penetrates everything”

Last week, I was shocked a musician friend in Cairo, he told him, the first electronic music makers not German, but he thought, but the 23-year-old Cairene Halim al – Dabh, he manipulated the ancient repair ceremony recording early 40 s.

In two minutes from the hypnotic, referred to as “wire documentary”, a distant, twisted, chanting voice echoed from an echo chamber, cycle time and time again, like curly snakes, occasionally stop breathing is dissolved into a spiral of howl. A longer version of “zal’s expression” was transferred to the tape and presented to the public at an art gallery in Cairo in 1944 – now it appears to have lost its name.

A few years ago, in 1939, American composer John Cage (John Cage) in a radio station in Seattle found a lot of music albums, and two variable speed rotary table, a gentle piano and cymbals to to form a “1” imaginary landscape. But Dabh was the first sound to be recorded, edited, manipulated and layered by a recorder (the predecessor of the recorder), creating the first pure electronic music. Four years later, Pierre Schaeffer, a French composer, will use the same method to create a “music concerto” on French radio, starting with his “five-line poet” (5etudesde bruits).

A few years ago, I first heard of Dabh interviewing musicians in Egypt, especially those involving sound art. I was able to get in touch with him this month after creating the charisma of a pioneering composer. I called from Cairo to his home in Kent, Ohio. Considering he is 92 years old now, I don’t worry about the interview went well, but I soon realized that his thoughts, memories, humor and ambitions still exists – even they are a kind of bubble frequency vibration.

On March 4, 1921, he was born to a farming family in the Sakakini region of Cairo. Dabh said he had been exposed to music since childhood.

“I was the youngest of nine children, so my family was often very experimental when I was growing up,” he said, laughing. “When I was three years old, I studied French at the jesuit school in Cairo, but when I came home I spoke only French and my parents sent me to the primary school in heliopolis.

He went on to say that between Arabic and English, “my brothers and sisters all play Musical Instruments, so naturally I will follow.” My brother, Adeeb, was becoming a famous musician, while my other siblings kept fighting on the piano, so I was drawn to drums, tabla, doff drum and so on.

At the age of 11, dub discovered contemporary music – his brothers took him to the historic 1932 Arab music conference in Cairo in 1932. He was struck by the work of musicians such as the Hungarian composer, BelaBartok, one of the founders of the national music society, and the German composer Paul Hindemith. There, for the first time, he was exposed to music recorded on a tape recorder.

Dabh studied agricultural engineering at Cairo university, but by 1942 his piano skills had attracted him to a young Egyptian prince, who had heard his work on the radio. He also won first prize in piano composition at the Egyptian opera house. After graduating in 1944, dab said he had been discussing with his brothers at a local youth center, focusing on avant-garde art and ideas. He remembers talking to anti-colonial intellectuals such as novelist Naguib Mahfouz and socialist thinker Salama Moussa.

“These meetings have been very influential in my ideological and cultural interests. There was never much talk of religion, he said, but there was an urgent need to get rid of colonialism as a means to achieve Egypt’s self-determination, national identity and modernism.

Dabh continues his agricultural work and travels to villages to advise farmers on crop growth strategies.

“These trips really sparked my interest in sound and music,” he explained. “At some point, I realized that I can leave their love are mixed together, so I began to study control and prevent pests through sound attack corn, wheat, and the possibility of legume crops. Maybe it’s because I was born in a thunderstorm, but I’ve always been very sensitive to sound, watching the vibrations of the birds, most of them are scarabs, and they seem to scream in conversation. From here I learned how to use metal instruments to create noise and to press the sharp elements together to dissuade them. I will use the mirror to dissuade the bees so that they can grow. “

These experiments led him to a radio station in the Middle East, a small independent radio station in Cairo, with a recorder. After trying it, he decided to change his recording and unknowingly create the cornerstone of the electronic music.

After recording the zal ceremony in 1943, the Dabh used studio techniques including reverberations, voltage controls and portable walls to modify the recording. He told me that he wanted to re-shape the fundamental vibrations that arise in the process of physical transcendence and healing.

“I’ve always been interested in zal, especially because it’s a female-only ritual,” daba said. “Women are the center of our civilization. They are the balance of our existence. I want to capture their voices and the healing elements of their spirituals. I didn’t know I was doing an electronic music, because of the whole concept of transformation, I realized that it was important to be in zal. This transcendence is caused by the movement of the body, the thought process, the vibration, the different thoughts, and through different kinds of participation, all the sounds that are being created. It’s a different world. ”

Remember “wire documentaries,” he said. “these are women. I want to find the inner voice, this transcendence is often necessary. I removed the harmony tone by changing the voltage – it changed the quality of music, it sought another quality in the sound, the hidden material, the inside of the sound. That’s the whole idea of the electron music. You have a recording. You go into the recording and find the hidden meaning. ”

In his “dark and wet” work on the Palestinian war in 1948, he attracted much attention by placing objects around piano strings. He was invited by the U.S. embassy in Egypt to study at the famous juilliard school in New York after a performance at Cairo’s wansheng cathedral in 1949.


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