Mark J Bradlyn | Culture Wheel

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World: Middle East Contemporary World: World Fusion Moods: Instrumental
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Culture Wheel

by Mark J Bradlyn

Middle Eastern inspired instrumental music for dreaming, dancing, and deep listening performed on the oud, cümbüş, violin, viola and other instruments.
Genre: World: Middle East Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Taishokoto
4:00 $0.99
2. Janelle
3:38 $0.99
3. Lamma Bada Yatathanna
4:55 $0.99
4. Ya Satie
4:09 $0.99
5. Bint Al Iskanderia
4:25 $0.99
6. Nawal Street
5:29 $0.99
7. Samai Hijaz Kar Kurd Tatyos
4:16 $0.99
8. Rumeli
3:52 $0.99
9. Culturewheel
4:15 $0.99
10. Zamalek
3:24 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
About the songs:

"Taishokoto" begins with simple variations on a motif played on the Japanese keyed dulcimer known as a Taishokoto. Propelled by a strong Ayoub-Zar rhythm, this song features improvised solos on cümbüş and violin as well as the oud.

"Janelle" is the first original piece I composed for the oud. The relaxed beat and Latin feeling make it the perfect song to dedicate to my friend, colleague, and dancer extraordinaire, Janelle Rodriguez.

"Lamma Bada Yatathanna" is a very popular example of a Muwashshah, a classical Arabo-Andalusian song many hundreds of years old. This Muwashshah is in 10/8 time, which gives it a distinctive swaying feel. The solo is played on electric oud. The orchestration I created for the song includes a sampled Chinese fiddle knows as an Erhu. Su Tang supplied the subtle samai thaquil drumming

"Ya Satie" is an improvisation on Gnossienne No. 1, a short piano work written in the late 19th century by French composer Erik Satie. The lack of a time signature in the original piece and its obvious Arabic influences make it a perfect vehicle for an interpretation on the oud.

"Bint al Iskanderia" (Girl from Alexandria) found its genesis while listening to a recording of a piece by Ethiopian jazz musician Mulatu Astage, who was in his own way influenced by American pianist Horace Silver. With the incorporation of a harmony line, counterpoint, jazzy flute solo, and Latin rhythmic feel this song may be the least middle eastern sounding of the ten songs on this disc.

"Nawal Street" (in Arabic, Sharia Nawal) is the street in Cairo where I lived for five weeks while studying the oud with Dr. Hussein Saber in 2016. The short exceprt from the Adhan, the “Call to Prayer” was recorded from my apartment window. This song is dedicated to my Egyptian friend Hala Fauzi whose aunt lived close by to Sharia Nawal.

"Samai Hijaz Kar Kurd" was composed by the venerated late 19th century Turkish musician Tatyos Efendi. The samai is a Turkish classical music form composed in 10/8 rhythm often including a contrasting middle section in 6/8 or other time signature. I believe this is the first time this composition has been performed on an electric oud.

"Rumeli" is a traditional Turkish Romany dance piece played in karsilama 9/8 rhythm. I perform this song in Maqam Bayati (Turkish: Ushaq), which features a microtone on the second pitch in the scale. The instrumentation includes viola and cümbüş.

"Culturewheel" is played in the slow, stately rhythm known as ciftitelli. It is a rhythm often used by belly dancers for the traditional sword dance and other dramatic choreographies. The title is taken from the El Sawy Culturewheel, a wonderful concert venue in Zamalek, Cairo. I dedicate this song to my Brazilian/Canadian friend and dancer Carla Naar, who loves to dance to ciftitelli.

"Zamalek", the last song on the disc, is an experimental foray into electronic dance music. Zamalek is an upscale Cairo district on Gezira Island in the Nile, a lively place full of art galleries, dance and music clubs, coffee houses, restaurants and vivid night life; a place where music like this would fit right in. This one goes out to Johnny Jo.

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A note of gratitude should ring out to the spirit of Sandy Bull whose Vanguard label recordings in the mid-1960s first opened my ears to the sound of the oud.

The beautiful rosette on the cover was hand-carved by luthier par-excellence, Dimitris Rapakousious.

Infinite thanks and appreciations also go to Volkan Ozyilmaz, creator of the incomparable Volko Alaturka Drum.

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In 2005 I bought my first oud and immediately fell in love. From the very first time I held its ancient round-bellied, short-necked body in my hands I felt a deep connection that went far beyond my decades-long relationship with the guitar.

I have always been a singer, and the guitar was always for me either the rumpled or well-made bed upon which my voice comfortably lay. In contrast, the fretless oud is neither made for nor used much for strummed chords or arpeggiated accompaniment to the human voice. When accompanying a singer, the oud player plays the notes of the melody that the singer sings.

As I worked my way deeper into learning Arabic music on the oud my focus naturally shifted away from harmony and the chord progressions used in the guitar-based music I had played for most of my life and turned instead toward the deep complexities of middle eastern melody and rhythm.

After introductory lessons on the oud with Mohamed Aoualou and Naser Musa I began serious and continuing studies in Arabic music with Lebanese master musician Elias Lammam from whom I began to learn the music of Umm Kulthuum, Abdel Halim Hafez, Fairuz, Warda, Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Sayed Darwish, Sayed Mekawy, Baligh Hamdi, the Rabhani Brothers and other pillars of 20th century Egyptian and Lebanese music.

My studies took a huge leap forward in 2015 and again in 2016 when I travelled to Cairo to learn from Dr. Hussein Saber, a delightful and compassionate master oudist, violinist, and teacher.

In creating and arranging the music of this CD I have made no effort to imitate the authentic sound and feeling of Middle Eastern music, but instead I have tried to create something new and personal that reflects my engagement with and my love for the music. Even the renderings of the traditional songs on the CD depart from how these works would ordinarily be performed.

An anthropologist housemate once pointed out to me that since the times of Emerson and Thoreau one of the hallmarks of being an American is the impulse to turn eastward, to embrace cultural expressions that differ from those we have been born into. If she was correct in this perception, and I believe it carries a powerful grain of truth, then I claim my birthright as an American and join the ranks of those who have found not only fascination and inspiration in the art of other cultures but also profound truth and beauty.


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