While Pierre Schaeffer is often thought of as the father of the electronic music form known as musique concrète the gentleman above, Halim El-Dabh, actually got there several years before, 1944 to be exact. Born in Egypt in 1921, El-Dabh studied agriculture at Cairo University while playing piano and other traditional instruments as a pastime. One day, the student and a friend borrowed a wire recorder — a device predating magnetic tape — from the Middle East Radio Station and hit the streets to capture ambient sounds. El-Dabh recorded a spirit-summoning ritual called a zaar ceremony and ultimately found that he could use the sounds as the raw ingredients for a new composition. In a recent interview with the Electronic Music Foundation, El-Dabh, who is University Professor Emeritus of African Ethnomusicology at Kent State University and continues to compose music, tells the story of his musical career, including this bit about the pioneering 1944 piece listenable above, an excerpt from "The Expression of Zaar":
We had to sneak in (to the ritual) with our heads covered like the women, since men were not allowed in. I recorded the music and brought the recording back to the radio station and experimented with modulating the recorded sounds. I emphasized the harmonics of the sound by removing the fundamental tones and changing the reverberation and echo by recording in a space with movable walls. I did some of this using voltage controlled devices. It was not easy to do. I didn't think of it as electronic music, but just as an experience. I called the piece Ta'abir al-Zaar, (The Expression of Zaar). A short version of it has become known as Wire Recorder Piece. At the time in Egypt, nobody else was working with electronic sounds. I was just ecstatic about sounds.
Kitty cats crawl through a surreal landscape in this animation paired with the fantastic Magnetic Fields song "Epitaph For My Heart." The animation has an M.C. Escher feel to it. Black and white cut-out shapes are used to construct a world of cats and warping buildings. I'm now going to think of this lovely video… READ THE REST
I'm obsessed with this version of Toxic by Britney Spears played by the Device Orchestra. This cover of Toxic is made from the sounds of an epilator, 2 toothbrushes, 3 credit card machines, and 2 typewriters. This version is just as great as the original. The little wigs and googly eyes attached to the devices… READ THE REST
The shadow of the villain still looms large. It's been a couple of years since MF DOOM sadly passed away, but the rapper's legend has continued to grow in the aftermath of his death. Although DOOM has been the mastermind behind a staggering array of bangers since donning the metal mask, his song Rapp Snitch Knishes has… READ THE REST
We thank our sponsor for making this content possible; it is not written by the editorial staff nor does it necessarily reflect its views. Summer may be coming to an end, but that doesn't mean your adventures have to stop. Whether it's a business trip or weekend galavanting around town, broadening your world can be… READ THE REST
We thank our sponsor for making this content possible; it is not written by the editorial staff nor does it necessarily reflect its views. Nothing's worse than trying to find that random image someone sent you, however many months back, frantically searching through email threads for something that looks familiar. Not only is that stressful, but it's… READ THE REST
We thank our sponsor for making this content possible; it is not written by the editorial staff nor does it necessarily reflect its views. Studying has become incredibly unconventional, starting with doing everything online and continuing with giving textbooks the axe. So if you're ditching the stacks for a more modern way to focus on your… READ THE REST