Various Artists

Bedouins of the Middle East

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Still working from the massive archives of field recordings done by Deben Bhattacharya over the years, ARC put together this compilation of recordings from 1955 during an overland trip or two between Paris and Calcutta, with a lengthy stop in the Middle East. The music is that of the various Bedouins, with a focus on those around Jordan and Syria in particular. The music is primarily vocal (instruments are often a luxury for nomadic peoples), though there are a few basic instruments present from time to time: fiddles, flutes, etc. There is, as in some other nomadic music, a tendency to go into dramatic, echoing passages (they sound great in the open expanses of a desert). Love songs and family lineage songs are the bulk of the content, but because Bhattacharya was an ethnomusicologist, listeners get the treat of additional music and sounds from the daily life of the camp. The coffee-grinding rhythms and songs in particular are worth hearing. Middle Eastern music recordings are dominated by the dastgah systems of Persia and the makams of the Arab world. Some more rural Bedouin music is a refreshing change.

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