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Dabke – Sounds of the Syrian Houran - various artists (SHAM002) audio samples

Sham Palace on March 23, 2013 03:38

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    Dabke is the celebratory music and dance found throughout the Levantine Middle East.
    By the mid-1990s, a new wave of high-energy electronic dabke music had emerged – to be heard at weddings, parties and cassette-stalls region-wide. New wave dabke was first introduced to western ears by way of Omar Souleyman and his northeastern Syrian sounds. This collection presents a hypnotic and diverse selection of electrified dabke dance cuts from a region in the south of Syria known as the Houran.

    The Houran refers to a swathe of south Syria and northwestern Jordan, beginning just below Damascus, and encompassing the Syrian cities of Daraa, Suweida, Bosra and the Golan Heights. Its populations include Syrians, Bedouin, Druze, Palestinians and Jordanians – and this unique confluence of cultures is evident throughout these tracks.

    Hourani dabke is relentless and commanding, driven by heavy rhythms and weaving synthesizers. Long passages of intense musical fervor are punctuated by fierce male vocals, belting out calls for the audience to dance, alongside the lyrical laments and tributes to love and lust. But the sound of the Houran is best defined by the mejwiz - a double-reed bamboo flute famed for its droney overtones as well as shrill, buzzing melodic lines achieved by circular breathing techniques.

    Historically, Hourani dabke was played with mejwiz, hand percussion and narrative vocal chants. Electronic beats have inevitably embellished the contemporary sound, magnifying the intensity – and the mejwiz players have taken their craft to the microphone, in order to maintain the instrument’s prominence over the resulting volume. The sampled mijwiz sound has its own specific qualities and in recent years, can even be heard in combination with its organic counterpart.

    The recordings featured in this collection were captured live to the mixing desk during weddings and parties throughout the Houran during the 1990s and 2000s, and represent a mere sliver of the sounds found in tape and disc vendors throughout the region.

    Release date: April 2, 2013:
    "Dabke – Sounds of the Syrian Houran" Reissue on CD (Compact Disc).

    Proceeds from this release will be donated to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (IFRC) to help support urgent humanitarian aid work during the ongoing crisis in Syria.

    Released by: Sham Palace
    Release/catalogue number: SHAM002CD
    Release date: Apr 2, 2013

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