Abdel Karim el Kabli

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The musical traditions of the Sudan have been preserved by oud, shetern and pennywhistle player, vocalist and folklorist Abdel Karim el-Kabli (sometimes spelled "Kably"). Gifted with a finely-pitched…
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The musical traditions of the Sudan have been preserved by oud, shetern and pennywhistle player, vocalist and folklorist Abdel Karim el-Kabli (sometimes spelled "Kably"). Gifted with a finely-pitched audio memory, which allows him to learn songs after hearing them only a few times, el-Kabli has built a repertoire of hundreds of traditional Sudanese songs. His album, Sudan, recorded between 1963 to 1967, remains one of the most important anthologies of Sudanese folk music. Born in Port Sudan, along the Red Sea coast, El-Kabli was inspired by the itinerant folk musicians he heard as a child. Teaching himself to play pennywhistle, and, then, the oud (lute) and shetern (small drum), he studied their methods of tuning and playing their instruments. Moving to Khartoum, at the age of sixteen, to attend the Khartoum Commercial Secondary School, he went on to study Sudanese folk music and Arabic poetry at the University of Khartoum. Although he took a position as a courts inspector for the clerical division of the Sudanese judiciary, following his graduation, he continued to be fascinated by music. Although he moved temporarily to Saudia Arabia in the late-1970s, he subsequently returned to his homeland.