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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Debate: Music and War

Debate: Music and War

Delivered... norient | Scene | Mon 23 Apr 2018 10:30 pm

War is the most horrible drama of human kind. Yet the noises of war — everything from swords clanging to modern machine guns and bombs — have fascinated musicians and composers for centuries. We asked musicians from the Norient network how to make a war audible. A virtual debate from the Norient exhibition Seismographic Sounds (see and order corresponding book here).

Complete Debate: The Video


«By sampling footage from contemporary sci-fi and action films, the video emphasizes that ‹the world is at war.› It analyses the violence and destructive culture surrounding us. Does life imitate art and are we heading along the path of what is prophesied in these films? Or will we choose a more sustainable mode? Sources are sampled for demonstrational use only.»

Jude MC, visual artist, producer and director of the «Mecca» video for Nguzunguzu (USA)

«I never felt the need or desire to translate war into music.»

Sharif Sehnaoui, a free improvising guitarist from Beirut. Since 2000 he has co-organized Irtijal, the International Festival for Experimental Music in Lebanon. He co-runs several labels: Al Maslakh devoted to «publishing the un-publishable» on the Lebanese musical scene; Johnny Kafta’s Kids Menu dedicated to rock-oriented experimentations; and Annihaya, which focuses on sampling, recycling, and the displacement of various aspects of popular culture.

«Communities can use silence to protest against the omnipresent noise of politics.»

Kamen Nedev aka Acoustic Mirror, Madrid-based sound artist (Spain)

«In western videos you get an exotic and romanticized version of war: the strong army, the beautiful soldier, the massive weapons. I experienced war: the real noise of it, the smell of fire. War is hell. We shouldn’t make it look adventurous and sexy.»

Zeid Hamdan, Beirut-based musician, producer, founder of the duo Soap Kills with singer Yasmine Hamdan, and is a pioneer of alternative music (Lebanon)

«Pop emerged in western liberal societies that haven’t experienced war on their territory in the last seventy years. For these societies war is not a reality, but just an image. Naturally it can be played with, just like any other image. Maybe we need a whole new musical language to construct a musical response to the reality of war and not just to an image of war.»

Nadav Appel, cultural critic and popular music scholar, Bar Ilan University, Open University of Israel and Sapir Academic College (Israel)

«The Khabees are my personal favorite. They are an anonymous noise/industrial act from somewhere inside Pakistan who seek to explore our fetishist fascination with religion and our everyday reality: terrorism. I like The Khabees because of how uneasy they make me feel. It is easier to dismiss Westerners exploring similar themes. The Khabees’ work, on the other hand, is hard to ignore. No edgy BDSM references, no borderline paedophilia, or rape fantasies. Real death and misery.»

Asadullah, Karachi-based musician, part of Lower Sindh! Swing Orchestra, Myosis and Kafir-e-Azam, and co-founder of the now defunct extreme music blog The Iron Markhor (Pakistan)

Musicians and the Revolution

The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and the political turmoil in the years since have changed the country. How did underground musicians, DJs and songwriters from Cairo react, and how did the events influence their art? Thoughts recorded by Thomas Burkhalter in Cairo.

«I cannot concentrate. I can’t stop thinking. Normally I translate daily life experiences into my songs, at the moment I cannot do so. I’m paralyzed. My role as a musician was more important before the revolution. I provoked and asked questions that were taboo. This was more challenging than today. I don’t even want to try to document the revolution. It is not finished yet, and I don’t want to document it wrongly. In these times I am a citizen of Egypt first.» (4.3.2013)

Maryam Saleh, singer and songwriter from Cairo who tours internationally

«Just because I’m an artist doesn’t mean that I have to make music about the revolution. An artist should just be an artist and create his personal artistic world—without any guidelines.» (6.3.2013)

Hussein El-Sherbini, part of the electronica collective Wetrobots. He co-runs the Epic 101 studio in Cairo

«This was the most emotional time of my life. I did not dare translate these strong experiences into music yet. They were holy in a way, so you cannot just make a track out of it. I brought my recorder to Tahrir Square though. One day, maybe, I’m going to use those recordings.» (7.3.2013)

Mahmoud Refat, experiments with field recordings and electronic music. He runs the label 100copies and the 100copies music space in Cairo

«Many songs were created on the spot. They were not meant for eternity. It was about freedom of expression. This is what made these songs important.» (10.3.2013)

Dina El-Gharib, visual artist from Cairo. She DJs weekly in the After Eight club in downtown Cairo

«With the start of the revolution, international media became fascinated with our female metal band. Now we give loads of interviews and we perform abroad often.» (8.3.2013)

Sherine Amr, front singer of the metal band Massive Scar Era

«My dream is to have a passport. I want to travel, to develop and show my music. I live for my music.» (10.3.2013)

Islam Chipsy, received his Egyptian passport in 2014. Today, the keyboard player tours abroad regularly—he also performed at the 6th Norient Musikfilm Festival in Bern, Switzerland

Video Debate Statements by

Sharif Sehnaoui, musician (Lebanon)
Kamen Nedev aka Acoustic Mirror, sound artist (Spain)
Nadav Appel, cultural critic (Israel)
Asadullah, musician (Pakistan)
Maryam Saleh, singer and songwriter (Egypt)
Zeid Hamdan, musician (Lebanon),
Yasmine Hamdan, singer (Lebanon)
Hussein El-Sherbini, musician (Egypt)
Dina El-Gharib, visual artist (Egypt)
Sherine Amr, musician (Egypt)
Islam Chipsy, musician (Egypt)

Video Cut: Stephan Hermann, Coupdoeil

Some quotes from this debate were published in the second Norient book Seismographic Sounds. Click on the image to know more.

Read More on Norient

> Norient: «Who Is Being Heard in Global Music?»
> Arie Amaya Akkermans: «Fantasies of War»
> Norient: «Debate:Bedroom Producer»
> Norient: «Sonic Traces: From the Arab World – Release»

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