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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2018 » July » 17


FabFilter Pro-Q 2 arrives as an AUv3 for the iOS host of your choice

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Tue 17 Jul 2018 11:26 pm

FabFilter have had their plugins in iOS for a while, but as far as I know they’ve only been inside Auria Pro. That was, until now. FabFilter have now brought us FabFilter Pro-Q 2 to iOS as an AUv3 so it can be used inside the host of your choice. This is probably going to be a big deal and quite a useful tool for your mixes.

Of course I’m hoping (as I expect many others are) that this is just the beginning and that the FabFilter Pro-Q 2 is just a first in a long line of AUv3 apps to come from FabFilter. It would be great to see a few more of their high end tools make they’re way into the mobile world.

Here’s the app’s description:

FabFilter Pro-Q 2 is a transparent, high-quality equalizer plug-in for mixing and mastering purposes, with up to 24 bands and a gorgeous interface for easy and precise editing. With its unique Natural Phase mode, it matches both the magnitude and phase response of analog EQ’ing perfectly. Innovative features like Spectrum Grab and EQ Match together with its intelligent interactive EQ display make Pro-Q 2 an absolute joy to use.

The Pro-Q 2 app filters the microphone input and plays it back in real-time. To use Pro-Q 2 as a plug-in, you need an AUv3-compatible host app like Auria, AUM or Cubasis. Pro-Q 2 will appear in the list of Audio Unit extensions for effect plug-ins in the host app.

Key features:

  • Highest possible sound quality
  • Gorgeous Retina interface with large interactive EQ display, multi-band selection and editing for maximum ease of use and efficiency
  • Up to 24 EQ bands
  • Operates in zero latency mode, linear phase mode with adjustable latency or the unique Natural Phase mode
  • Filter shapes: Bell, Notch, High/Low Shelf, High/Low Cut, Band Pass, Tilt Shelf
  • Universal filter slope support for all filter types, up to 96 dB/oct
  • Spectrum Grab: just grab and adjust a peak in the real-time spectrum analyzer right away!
  • EQ Match feature to automatically match the spectrum of another track
  • Optional Gain-Q interaction
  • Each band can operate on the stereo signals or on the left or right channels independently for per-channel EQ-ing
  • Built-in spectrum analyzer with Pre-EQ, Post-EQ and SC modes, adjustable range, speed, resolution, tilt and freeze
  • Auto Gain and Gain Scale
  • Mid/side mode where you can EQ the mid and side signals separately
  • Optional piano roll display to quantize EQ frequencies to musical notes
  • Different display ranges: 3 dB and 6 dB ranges for mastering, 12 dB and 30 dB for mixing
  • Intelligent solo mode makes it easy to find problem frequencies and hear the effect of a band
  • Phase Invert option to change polarity
  • Large output level meter with peak level readout
  • Undo/redo and A/B comparison

FabFilter Pro-Q 2 isn’t cheap (in iOS terms anyway), it costs $29.99 on the app store

The post FabFilter Pro-Q 2 arrives as an AUv3 for the iOS host of your choice appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

iBassist is a virtual bass player for your iPad

Delivered... Ashley Elsdon | Scene | Tue 17 Jul 2018 10:57 pm

Unless you routinely have a bassist on hand whenever you need one then you might want to take a look at iBassist as a cheaper option than having the bass player on retainer, and of course, it’s almost certainly a cheaper route to getting a bass line done.

The app basically turns your iPad into a versatile bass player to jam or compose anywhere and create grooves for installed drum apps. The app sends progression chords by MIDI, so you can have any synth app running in background audio for a more consistent jamming experience.

According to the developer’s description:

Bass lines are based in degrees, so you can apply any chord progression to any bass line. A valuable tool to apply different bass grooves to your songs. And the jam tool brings musical variations and new ideas on the way.

The Chord Progression editor is quick, easy to use and allows to create or edit your progressions choosing Key Notes – harmony by steps, midi detection or randomizing.

iBassist includes 10 Round Robin sampled natural bass sounds. Different styles and colors, from Modern Finger Bass, to warm Double Bass.

Live Pads lets to play live sessions on the way with 8 assignable pads for Line-Progression-Jam, and change between them by MIDI.

Song Mode. Choosing “Make Drums” in song mode will create the whole song structure drums.

Export Midi function to create MIDI Files with the Bass Line /- Progression – Jam combination or whole song structures.

Built-In Effects: Compressor, Delay, Chorus, Reverb.
Parametric EQ

Whilst this might not be my regular choice of app I can see the appeal of something like iBassist for jamming and working out tracks.

iBassist costs $17.99 on the app store now

The post iBassist is a virtual bass player for your iPad appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Modular for dancing: Florian Meindl and Leonard de Leonard

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 17 Jul 2018 9:15 pm

Yes, nests of patch cords and racks of modules will make noodle-y noise for chin scratching. It can also make pounding techno – and we’re going inside some of the sonic brains who’ve mastered that.

Our mission: let’s learn how people are actually using modular synthesis to express their musical ideas, and demystify some of the basic concepts in sound creation behind all those cool flashing lights and tangles of wire.

To do that, we need musicians like Florian and Leonard.

Join the Facebook event to tune into the live stream
Roland + CDM + Florian Meindl + Leonard de Leonard, talking modular synths
Wednesday July 18
7 PM Berlin / 1 PM New York / 10 AM San Francisco / 2 AM Thursday Tokyo

Florian Meindl and Leonard de Leonard will join us tomorrow in Berlin thanks to Roland organizing a visit in the artist center they’ve set up in Kreuzberg. These are two producers with a deep knowledge of music history and production skills as well as technical knowledge. They’re proof that musicianship is a combination of engineering and intuition. So whether you’re interests tend to beats or beatless, the main takeaway is that they can master creative sound design as an instrument.

Florian in the studio.

Florian has been a guest with CDM (and Roland) once before. He’s a real workhorse of Berlin’s techno scene, having produced music for about a decade and a half, various high-profile remixes (Hot Chip & Royksopp), and helmed a label (FLASH) that has released a who’s who of quality techno from around the world – with a stunning 130 releases, ranging from Sigha to Noncompliant, and not a dud in the bunch. I have to say from trying to juggle multiple threads like this, this stuff isn’t easy. He’s also some kind of ninja of social media.

Plus, for synth lovers, his Riemann Kollektion and Riemann Modular build businesses around boutique sounds and DJ tools and Eurorack modular, respectively.

Florian’s hybrid DJ sets effortlessly mix from club bangers to fluid modular improvisations – I saw particularly heavy, concrete-shaking sets at both Berlin’s Arena and Griessmuehle recently. I think the key was, the modular stuff never sounded like filler – it was just as dead-on.

Here’s a beautiful example of his music, which goes full-on dark and industrial without ever losing site of groove.

And because the future of DJing is also playing live, here’s his round-up of mixes and live sets:

https://soundcloud.com/florian-meindl/sets/mixes-dj-live

Leonard’s stunning Sound Provider studio, otherwise known as “okay, that’s a good motivation to try to go to heaven when I die instead of Hell, maybe?”

Leonard de Leonard is a kind of sonic polyglot, a deep expert in modules and synths (well beyond my own modular knowledge – let me be totally clear about that), and with a resume across various genres, in composition, arrangement, and production. He’s also worked in sound design. You can tell a really clever producer/sound creator when it’s musically satisfying to listen to samples of their loops – like, his loop libraries sound better than a lot of producer’s tracks.

We’ll also get to look at Roland’s entry into Eurorack modular, a collaboration with Portland, Oregon boutique maker Malekko. What I appreciate about Roland’s work in modular, and why I would chose to work with them, is that they’re helping give back to the odd and wonderful underground collection of people now making modules. So apart from bringing back some of the vintage Roland System 100 designs that helped shape what modular looks like today, they’re also making a point of showing how their modules fit with other smaller makers, in a larger ecosystem.

To tune in, you can join the Facebook event from Roland:
https://www.facebook.com/events/199047457455896/

The post Modular for dancing: Florian Meindl and Leonard de Leonard appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

What Does an FCC Designation for Hearing Mean?

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Tue 17 Jul 2018 5:16 pm

In light of yesterday’s announcement that the FCC Chairman has proposed that portions of the acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group of the television stations owned by Tribune Media would be designated for hearing, one question that many have asked is, “What does designation for hearing mean?”  Several decades ago, the process of designating an application for hearing was a common occurrence – used by the FCC to decide between competing applicants for new broadcast (and in some cases non-broadcast) licenses, in connection with determinations of whether or not to grant the license renewal of broadcast stations where substantive petitions or competing applications were filed against such applications, or to deal with enforcement issues when there were questions about the facts of a particular situation.  The FCC had a large staff of Administrative Law Judges who heard these cases, and they were usually quite busy.  But as the staff of ALJs at the FCC has dwindled to one, and as cases referred to that Judge are increasingly infrequent, it might be worth discussing a bit about the hearing process at the FCC.

Congress established, in Sections 309 and 310(d) of the Communications Act, the manner in which the FCC is to process applications filed with it.  In cases involving applications for new stations or for the purchase and sale of stations, applications are filed providing information required by the FCC and such supplemental information as the FCC may request.  Interested parties routinely have 30 days in which to file objections to applications, in which the petitioner needs to submit detailed allegations supported by facts either in the public record or otherwise supported by statements from those with personal knowledge of the facts, arguing why an application should not be granted.  Applicants have the opportunity to respond.  In most cases, the FCC will attempt to resolve any disputes, or any questions that it has on its own, on the basis of the written materials presented in the application, the petitions, and in response to any FCC supplemental request for information.  But Section 309(e) makes clear that, if there is a “substantial and material question of fact” or if the Commission is otherwise not able to determine that an application meets the requirements of the rules, it needs to formally designate the application for hearing.

A designation for hearing is done through an FCC order called a Hearing Designation Order.  That Order usually recites the facts of the case and discusses the problems that the FCC has with the application, and sets out a specific list of “issues” that the Judge is to consider in the hearing process.  The process by which the ALJ conducts the hearing is set out in the statute and by FCC rules.  Usually, the FCC will have its own attorneys playing a part in the case, conducting discovery (e.g. document production, depositions, interrogatories) like in any other court case, trying to get to the bottom of the specific issues presented in the case.  Other “parties in interest” in the case, usually including those who filed formal petitions to deny, will also have an opportunity to participate as parties in the case.  The FCC process allows parties to file requests to “enlarge the issues,” seeking to consider issues beyond those designated by the FCC.  As in the petition to deny process, specific facts to support any additional issues have to be provided, and the judge needs to conclude that the request raises a substantial matter that merits attention before new issues are added to those designated by the Commission.

The party whose application was designated for hearing can ask that issues be deleted from consideration in the hearing and can, before any actual trial-type hearing, ask for summary decision to resolve some or all of the issues presented based on the facts in the record or produced through discovery.  If the issues are not resolved in that manner, the ALJ will routinely conduct an actual trial-type hearing, with the Judge in a robe, witnesses being called to testify under oath as recorded by a court reporter, and cross-examination by attorneys for the other side.  After the hearing, the parties typically file “findings and conclusions” – legal briefs summarizing the facts brought out at hearing and citing the legal precedent that should be applied to those facts to advocate for the conclusions sought by the party.  The Judge takes into consideration the record of the hearing and the written arguments before rendering a decision in writing – a decision that can then be appealed to the full Commission.

As in any civil litigation, these cases can be lengthy, with discovery and other procedural wrangling taking months to play out.  Those delays are one of the reasons that the FCC has tried wherever possible to avoid actual hearings – even in some cases resorting to “paper hearings” to try to adduce the facts necessary to deal with an application (see, for instance our articles here and here about cases where the FCC ordered a paper hearing as to whether stations had been off the air for substantial periods of time during a license term were entitled to a renewal of license).  In the past, it was common for contracts for the acquisition of broadcast stations to contain a right to terminate the agreement by either party if there was a designation for hearing, given the delays and costs inherent in such a hearing.  Since hearings have been so infrequent in recent years, such clauses are probably not as common as they once were – but may be making a comeback in the near future.

The process is a relatively straightforward one, but one that is time-consuming.  We will see how that process plays out if the FCC goes forward with its hearing as previewed by the statement of the Chairman yesterday.

What Does an FCC Designation for Hearing Mean?

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Tue 17 Jul 2018 5:16 pm

In light of yesterday’s announcement that the FCC Chairman has proposed that portions of the acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group of the television stations owned by Tribune Media would be designated for hearing, one question that many have asked is, “What does designation for hearing mean?”  Several decades ago, the process of designating an application for hearing was a common occurrence – used by the FCC to decide between competing applicants for new broadcast (and in some cases non-broadcast) licenses, in connection with determinations of whether or not to grant the license renewal of broadcast stations where substantive petitions or competing applications were filed against such applications, or to deal with enforcement issues when there were questions about the facts of a particular situation.  The FCC had a large staff of Administrative Law Judges who heard these cases, and they were usually quite busy.  But as the staff of ALJs at the FCC has dwindled to one, and as cases referred to that Judge are increasingly infrequent, it might be worth discussing a bit about the hearing process at the FCC.

Congress established, in Sections 309 and 310(d) of the Communications Act, the manner in which the FCC is to process applications filed with it.  In cases involving applications for new stations or for the purchase and sale of stations, applications are filed providing information required by the FCC and such supplemental information as the FCC may request.  Interested parties routinely have 30 days in which to file objections to applications, in which the petitioner needs to submit detailed allegations supported by facts either in the public record or otherwise supported by statements from those with personal knowledge of the facts, arguing why an application should not be granted.  Applicants have the opportunity to respond.  In most cases, the FCC will attempt to resolve any disputes, or any questions that it has on its own, on the basis of the written materials presented in the application, the petitions, and in response to any FCC supplemental request for information.  But Section 309(e) makes clear that, if there is a “substantial and material question of fact” or if the Commission is otherwise not able to determine that an application meets the requirements of the rules, it needs to formally designate the application for hearing.

A designation for hearing is done through an FCC order called a Hearing Designation Order.  That Order usually recites the facts of the case and discusses the problems that the FCC has with the application, and sets out a specific list of “issues” that the Judge is to consider in the hearing process.  The process by which the ALJ conducts the hearing is set out in the statute and by FCC rules.  Usually, the FCC will have its own attorneys playing a part in the case, conducting discovery (e.g. document production, depositions, interrogatories) like in any other court case, trying to get to the bottom of the specific issues presented in the case.  Other “parties in interest” in the case, usually including those who filed formal petitions to deny, will also have an opportunity to participate as parties in the case.  The FCC process allows parties to file requests to “enlarge the issues,” seeking to consider issues beyond those designated by the FCC.  As in the petition to deny process, specific facts to support any additional issues have to be provided, and the judge needs to conclude that the request raises a substantial matter that merits attention before new issues are added to those designated by the Commission.

The party whose application was designated for hearing can ask that issues be deleted from consideration in the hearing and can, before any actual trial-type hearing, ask for summary decision to resolve some or all of the issues presented based on the facts in the record or produced through discovery.  If the issues are not resolved in that manner, the ALJ will routinely conduct an actual trial-type hearing, with the Judge in a robe, witnesses being called to testify under oath as recorded by a court reporter, and cross-examination by attorneys for the other side.  After the hearing, the parties typically file “findings and conclusions” – legal briefs summarizing the facts brought out at hearing and citing the legal precedent that should be applied to those facts to advocate for the conclusions sought by the party.  The Judge takes into consideration the record of the hearing and the written arguments before rendering a decision in writing – a decision that can then be appealed to the full Commission.

As in any civil litigation, these cases can be lengthy, with discovery and other procedural wrangling taking months to play out.  Those delays are one of the reasons that the FCC has tried wherever possible to avoid actual hearings – even in some cases resorting to “paper hearings” to try to adduce the facts necessary to deal with an application (see, for instance our articles here and here about cases where the FCC ordered a paper hearing as to whether stations had been off the air for substantial periods of time during a license term were entitled to a renewal of license).  In the past, it was common for contracts for the acquisition of broadcast stations to contain a right to terminate the agreement by either party if there was a designation for hearing, given the delays and costs inherent in such a hearing.  Since hearings have been so infrequent in recent years, such clauses are probably not as common as they once were – but may be making a comeback in the near future.

The process is a relatively straightforward one, but one that is time-consuming.  We will see how that process plays out if the FCC goes forward with its hearing as previewed by the statement of the Chairman yesterday.

The Ultimate Guide To Every Berlin Club Worth Going To In 2018

Delivered... By EB Staff | Scene | Tue 17 Jul 2018 12:44 pm

The post The Ultimate Guide To Every Berlin Club Worth Going To In 2018 appeared first on Telekom Electronic Beats.

Your smartphone needs a pocket mixer: Roland Go:Mixer Pro review

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Tue 17 Jul 2018 8:00 am

The Roland Go:Mixer Pro packs a complete mixer into a handheld device, and it interfaces with your iPhone, Android phone – or anything else. We got one of the first units to test.

Compact enough to make the compact TR-09 behind it look huge. From left: inputs for guitar/bass (high impedance), plug-in mic (like a lapel mic), phantom power switch (needed for some microphones to function), and a full XLR-1/4″ combo jack for a mic – that last one is why it’s got the big bulge.

Your phone is missing a mixer

Smartphones at least ought to mean that we don’t carry around dedicated recorders (and their batteries and SD cards) as often. Your iPhone or Android phone or other mobile device also boasts apps for editing and managing recordings, even before you get into more creative production and live effects tools. And most importantly, they’re connected for live streaming or uploading the results.

Various products will let you connect and record instruments, or serve as more practical sound recording solutions for video shoots.

But what about the scenarios where you have a send of sound toys, synths and drum machines, instruments and microphone, or even different gadgets (like a jam session with a couple of iPads or a couple of fun phone apps)?

That’s where the Go:Mixer Pro comes in. It’s a stereo in/stereo out interface to phones and smartphones and computers, but it’s also a mixer. (It’s a standalone mixer, too, and you might even wind up using it just as much as that.)

You can connect and mix multiple inputs (9 channels in, 2 channels out):

  • Two 1/8″ stereo line inputs (for other mobile gadgets, a drum machine, a synth, whatever)
  • Two 1/4″ instrument inputs (two mono or one stereo pair)
  • Guitar/bass instrument 1/4″ jack input
  • Minijack plug-in mic (for a lapel mic, etc.)
  • One XLR/jack combo mic connection with phantom power

That’s the domain normally of ultra-small Behringer mixers and … not much else beyond that. Depending on the gear you’re using and whether you want mono and stereo connections, that’s somewhere between four and six independent sources.

There’s no line-level output – just a monitor output, though I did connect it to my studio mixer.

But there’s also a USB connection round the back. So the Go:Mixer Pro is also a 48K/16-bit stereo audio interface – you get two channels of input and two channels of output.

Front jacks – those are actually two separate inputs (each stereo) on the right.

USB means out-of-the-box support for computers and Android (OTG) phones and so on, a well as Raspberry Pi and other goodies. For iOS, Roland also supports “Made for iPhone” and includes a Lightning cable, so you get seamless operation with iPhones and iPads.

This isn’t a multichannel audio interface, only stereo, but that still fits many use cases – like recording gigs and jam sessions.

While it’s billed as a phone accessory, the mixer also works standalone – so you can just use that USB jack for power, via the dongle you already have for your phone or other gadget.

Three cables are included, for each possible device.

Form factor

Roland has packed this mixer/interface into a tiny form factor. The footprint is only about as deep as the iPhone 6 is tall. And it’s fairly slim, apart from a big bulge at the back to house the XLR combo jack and a battery compartment.

The batteries come in handy – you’ll need them to use the mixer standalone without USB power plugged in, if you want to avoid drawing power from your phone, or if you want to use a mic with phantom power with your iPhone. (Android phones will let you draw battery from the phone for phantom power; Apple are … more protective.)

Roland has included all the necessary cables in the box – USB-C, Micro USB, and Apple Lightning connections. That covers just about any computer or external power or Android or Apple phone.

But that cute little tabletop format is awfully useful. Yes, it’s marketed for smartphones, but you could also connect a Roland TR-8S, TB-03, and SH-01A to this little gadget for some on-the-go acid techno.

One constructive criticism to Roland on out-of-box experience: since this is geared for beginners, it’s a shame the box comes with no batteries and only a sheet pointing to a website in place of a copy of the (very friendly) short manual. Also a bit puzzling as they try to reach newbies: there are graphical icons on the top panel (a keyboard! a guitar!), but text labels on the connections (“instrument?”).

How it works

Operation is really plug-and-play. There’s not much feedback on level apart from a tiny “PEAK” light, but that’s okay — there are big, easy-to-see knobs.

Routing is rudimentary, but there’s a useful LOOP BACK switch – this records video while looping audio from your phone back into the device. Roland suggests doing this when you want to “play back music” while shooting video, but obviously it’s useful for production applications, as well.

And in case you forgot Roland is a Japanese company, there’s a karaoke mode. A center cancel feature is designed to remove vocals so you can host your own karaoke night.

Roland also makes Android and iOS devices intended for shooting video, though any audio device-aware application will also make good use of the hardware.

Here’s what’s really important: the thing sounds good. The mic pre and mix circuitry is transparent – I tried it with a couple of higher-end condenser mics and had no qualms inserting the mixer in my studio signal chain.

And that’s what sets this and some other recent mobile gear apart. It’s consumer-friendly, yes — but there’s no reason you can’t use this as a serious studio tool, as well. And that’s how it should be.

Key specs:
Runs on USB or 4xAAA batteries or your phone
170 mA power draw
Size: 104 x 155 x 41 mm, 220 g (that’s 8 oz)

Street price: USD$169.99 – okay, that’ll turn some people off, but frankly I’m glad to have a quality, quiet mixer

Battery case, and the two instrument jacks – you can use those as two mono inputs, or a stereo pair.

The competition

Anyone who’s been to a Berlin flea market in the past half decade will no doubt be reminded of the locally made POKKETMIXER. But that device, while a cute and cool proof of concept, is entirely unpowered, so it only mixes headphone outputs. It’s useful for crossfading between two smartphones, and that’s about it.

IK have so many devices that it’s possible one of theirs is more what you need than the Go:Mixer Pro. If it’s mainly an interface you want, for a guitar, for a mic, or for line recordings, IK Multimedia has an array of options. Apart from specialized guitar, stompbox/pedalboard, and AV options, the iRIG Pro DUO is most capable with dual preamps and balanced outputs. That interface also, crucially, has MIDI. (IK also makes standalone MIDI interfaces.)

And then there are devices that are just mixers, though for the moment few are challenging Behringer’s offerings in the subcompact mixer space. Some of those additionally have USB audio interface capability ,but that’s not the same as native iOS support, and they tend to be bulkier than this.

So to me, the Go:Mixer Pro just solved a major need for quick recordings and jam sessions. The fact that it’s a mixer as well as an interface makes it doubly convenient, and easy access to those input levels is also a big plus.

I just wish the interface with the Roland brand on it had MIDI, too – this is just shy of being an ideal ultra-compact mixer for, say, the Boutique Series. But I plan to make this a permanent part of my carry-on, and I bet I’m not alone.

https://www.roland.com/global/products/gomixer_pro/

The post Your smartphone needs a pocket mixer: Roland Go:Mixer Pro review appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Nucleya disqualifies ‘Laung Gawacha’ Remix contest winner – RadioandMusic.com

Delivered... | Scene | Tue 17 Jul 2018 8:00 am
Nucleya disqualifies 'Laung Gawacha' Remix contest winner  RadioandMusic.com

MUMBAI: The winner of Nucleya's recent contest, Laung Gawacha Remix, Sukh Dhami Music, has been disqualified by the Bass Raja. In a video shared on his ...

How we made: Roni Size on the Mercury-winning album New Forms

Delivered... Interviews by Dave Simpson | Scene | Tue 17 Jul 2018 6:00 am

‘We just went to the Mercury prize ceremony to scoff all the free food and alcohol. Then Eddie Izzard said: You’ve won!’

I was born Ryan Owen Granville Williams but, because I was lighter-skinned, everyone called me Roni, after the only white character in the film Babylon. I was quite short and if my mates were talking about a girl, they’d say: “Oh, she’s Roni’s size.” So that’s how I came up with the name Roni Size.

Related: Roni Size’s favourite tracks

Continue reading...

New Wave Dabke

Delivered... Shayna Silverstein | Scene | Tue 17 Jul 2018 6:00 am

For centuries dabke was a local tradition in Syria, but in the late 1990s, it has become more and more urban. Thereby, the popular dance music was reimaginated and globalized. Under the name «new wave dabke» special stylistic idoms have become noticeable – but instead of the capability to merge into free mixtures, they create new social boundaries. From the Norient book Out of the Absurdity of Life (see and order here).

Dabke is a centuries-old dance music tradition of the Levant that features a signature stomp (in Arabic, dabke translates as «to stomp the ground with your foot») and tabl drum. It is a groove music with persistent downbeats and mechanized rhythms that can be traced regionally from Kurdish Iraq to the eastern Mediterranean coast. Dabke is also a genre of musiqa shaʿbiyya (popular dance music) that flows between contexts. Friends and families dance dabke at social gatherings like those filmed by streetwise Arab-American youth in the viral YouTube clip «Teach Me How To Debke» – A dabke-flash mob in Beirut’s Hariri International Airport. Nos Tefaha, a protest rock band working from the occupied Golan Heights, breaks into dabke melodies and rhythms between politically charged verses that deliver the message of non-violent resistance to the Syrian regime (Farraj 2012).

Dabke is arrestingly local. Someone from the Hawran region, for instance, may not understand a singer (known as a mutrib among Arab speakers) from Lattakia due to linguistic differences between provincial dialects. Likewise, discrepancies among footwork figures and rhythmic patterns tend to be ascribed to distinct village traditions or ethnic heritage. For many, dabke symbolizes that which is nostalgically grounded in rural ways of life. Whether and how these cultures have been shaped by centuries of migration and trade still remains to be studied, nonetheless, loyalties to the ethnic and rural origins of dabke practices remain entrenched to today.

In the late 1990s, these differences became subsumed into a translocal urban music genre that industry insiders nicknamed «New Wave Dabke». Voicing the Arab street, a new generation of singers appealed to audiences in ways that crossed linguistic and ethnic boundaries. Hipster magnet Omar Souleyman is among these. According to sources, the new wave of dabke may be traced to a battle between two popular dabke singers in Syria, Ali El Dik and Mohammed Iskander. Since his early career, Ali El Dik has been highly regarded in coastal towns for his «one-man show» performances in the sahaliyya (coastal) dialect. In 1997, El Dik became involved in a feud with an older singer, Mohammed Iskander, over intellectual property rights regarding the music video, «Samra Husawde». Whereas El Dik claimed that Iskander stole the song from him, Iskander claimed he adapted the lyrics for those who do not speak in the coastal dialect. He justified this adaptation by claiming that the song was «folkloric» and thereby accessible to all artists. In return, El Dik titled his next chart after his pseudonym «Aloush» as a means to secure his music against what he deemed theft. Along with stoking fiery battles between personalities, «Aloush» was decried as a «cheap video clip» by Syrian cultural elite who regarded Ali El Dik as a threat to the integrity of cultural traditions.

In 2000, empresario Abu Hussein (his moniker among industry insiders) launched the Beirut-based production house Lourd Sound which specialized in musiqa sha’biyya, or low-budget Arab pop music. Abu Hussein had previously secured leverage in Beirut’s music industry in the late 1970s through his involvement as a producer for superstar Dalida. His interest in musiqa shaʿbiyya developed two decades later when Zeina Saqar, a bank employee at the time, approached him with a cassette tape and entreated him to produce her songs. He obliged and the first success was followed up by seven additional album projects. Dabke star Rabieh El Asmar similarly approached Abu Hussein for a contract that resulted in ten albums before El Asmar left Lourd Sound for entertainment giant Rotana. A&R networks of Lourd Sound straddled Lebanon and Syria and consisted of professional singers from the Syrian coast along with Shia communities in south Lebanon and the Beqaa Valley, including Zeina Saqar and an older female singer Zeina Hamia. Through Lourd Sound and other industry players, singers contracted with godfather-like promoters who cultivated their raw talent and pushed them through the competitive landscape of nightclubs, radio stations, and satellite music videos. Singers traveled across the Syrian-Lebanese border in ways that may correlate with migration patterns of surplus Syrian labor in Lebanon and related socio-political issues (Chalcraft 2009). [1]

As we sat in his air-conditioned office in the New Raouche district of Beirut, Abu Hussein shared his role in the emergence of «New Wave Dabke»:

I discovered Ali El Dik five years ago, when a Syrian company offered his track «Aloush» for very little. I bought airtime for it on Radio Strike [in Lebanon], who limited the run to five times daily due its lowbrow status. They also asked for more money because they considered the artist to be relatively obscure. So I gave them more. But when I listened to Radio Strike, I heard it play more than forty times. I called to inquire and they replied that there was a high volume of caller requests. After one week, even the corporate giant Rotana aired the video clip of «Aloush». Since then, we released his second, third, and fourth albums and sell his CDs continuously. [2]

Though his reputation swings controversially from lowbrow artist to political insider, Ali El Dik is today’s leading Syrian dabke singer. His commercial success may be attributed to his strategic manipulation of the satellite music video at a critical juncture in the development of Arab media (Armbrust 2005, Frishkopf 2010). Moreover, his career drives a new generation of dabke singers whose popularity moves across ethnic or linguistic borders, such as New Wave Dabke stars Naim El Sheikh, Saria Sawas, and Walid Sarkis. Being able to deliver a variety of regional dialects for diverse audiences is vital for the success of Naim El Sheikh’s career. Based in the coastal city Tartous, Saria Sawas sings in a heavy Bedouin dialect that provokes contestations over her ethnic identity, which fans tend to identify as either Iraqi or from the border region Deir El Zour. [3] Walid Sarkis, of Christian upbringing, reached out to Lebanese Shia consumers with his album titled «Abu El Sabtain Haidar», a nickname associated with the prophet Imam Ali. Generally, eulogies to religious and political leaders help to strategically delimit target markets, such as supporters of Hasan Nasrallah and Bashar Assad. Since the Arab Spring, the vilification of political leaders has likewise become a strategy that builds solidarity among anti-regime protesters (Silverstein 2012).

New Wave Dabke producers not only broaden appeal by blurring sectarian and linguistic boundaries but also through aesthetic strategies of music production. Producers and musicians depend on the production and circulation of samples to add digital effects, such as the mizmar (reed wind instrument) or zaghareet (vocal ululations). Samples may be deployed strategically as stylistic idioms that represent a place or project a certain worldview. For instance, recording engineer Walid Baghdadi of StudioFlash in Beirut samples hiphop beats to globalize his dance tracks. He also uses different instruments to mark national differences: «Lebanese dabke needs ney (end-blown bamboo flute) in the beginning while some Syrian-Lebanese dabkat (plural of dabke) are better with a buzuq (long-necked lute) introduction». [4] Likewise, Abu Hussein prefers the «electric guitar for Iraqi dabke». He often hires musicians for studio sessions and mixes these with recordings taken at live performance events. He remarked that whereas «ney and violin are more befitting for ‘ataba and muwwal (improvised vocal forms that precede dabke sections), sometimes we really need to add live darbuka (goblet drum) just to excite people to go and dance». [5] Their aesthetic strategies suggest how the process of producing of New Wave Dabke reinforces conceptual links between geographic region, stylistic idioms, and musical form at the same time that musical material is reconfigured and reimagined.

Is stardom and commercial success in musiqa shaʿbiyya dependent on the ability to cross borders – aesthetic, linguistic, ethnic or national? New Wave Dabke producers and singers have arguably shaped a new cultural space by adopting outsider dabke practices and expanding musical networks across lines of difference. Yet they accomplish this by producing alterity, that is, by constructing social boundaries between ethnic and sectarian communities or cultural distinctions between rural-urban and Lebanese-Syrian-Iraqi lifestyles. The proliferation of New Wave Dabke is therefore situated within the social and cultural differences that it affirms and acknowledges. More broadly, the dynamism of musiqa shaʿbiyya is evident in how a sense of locality persists and endures across shifting contexts and historical moments.

Translation of Cited Songs

Walid Sarkis: «’Ataba Abu al-Sabtain»

Ouf ouf [6]
Father of the two Husseins, (Imam Ali)
Wisest of the wise
The one who clearly was intentioned
to be the succssor of Allah
Mohammad has chosen you and if it were not
for the betrayal you would have been the one (repeat)

He was born in the Kaaba with great insight
that breaks through walls
This is a Miracle whose proof to people
is the existence of the light of mercy (repeat)

He believed in our prophet at a younger age
than others who believed in the old idols (repeat)
He was so pure that only Zahra knew of the purity of Haidar [7]

Son of the Aamri, he was greater than the Infidelity
and took care of the worst crime and with the blade of Zo Alfikar,
our god freed Ali and dealt the unbelievers a defeat (repeat)

And in the parties or clans made a point of honor
and guided the people to the straight path
and made the sun late and delayed time
and the sun told him I would die for you (repeat)

And Marhab faked his happiness with drums
and trumpets but in his heart had an evil idea
Abu sabtain, helper of good,
killed him and was better than him in courage and will (repeat)

And in Khaibar the evil wind rose and whispered
with its Jews who were not honest and with one hit from his han
he shook Khaibar’s gates whose people are now in hell (repeat)

Al Hassan, brother of Hussein,
who knew more of his dad’s good deeds and straight path with the roll of his head,
the throne shook but not more than that with his blood
he gave the Shiites the bounty from the battle (repeat)

Abi Sabtain, Abi Sabtain the purity returned
Mohammad said you are welcome my friend and companion,
heaven is a pathway for us,
whosoever believed in us and called for our help
would enter the paradise or grace of god without invitation (repeat)

Ouf ouf….yaa Abu Hadi,
(Nasrallah) you are always guide to the path (repeat)

At the point of contact the fighter is martyred (repeat)
Tell the Arabs that neutrality is the biggest shame,
see how badly my people have been tortured by the fire of the enemy
and how on the enemies stepped on our gardens (repeat)
Ya Nasrallah I saw your light appear to your south,
which I worship it worshipfully (repeat)
Hizballah made the price of glory high,
is men are like lions on the hills and valleys
Witness, only we have Hezbollah men,
only its men are roses in the gardens of martyrdom (repeat)

Ali al-Deek: «Alush»

(Singer greets audience)
From beginning to end, it’s the human state
I thought of you, man, just had a little sleep

Alush, Alush, Ali, Ali
Yes, Yes, dear, I hear you

Alush, It’s morning already
The harvesters are ahead of us
Bring the pick and shovel and also
a small sack for food (repeat twice)

Hey hey (calls to others)

Alush, Ali, Ali come on, wake up,
Come on, wake up, please
Damn the laziness

Get up and hurry up please.
I’ve been trying to wake you up for hours (repeat twice)
The rooster has cried all over the valley

Alush, it’s morning already
The harvesters are ahead of us
Bring the pick and shovel and also a small sack for food

Leave me sleep a little,
Open your eyes
We are poor
Eastern sunrise

Your mom fed the chickens and
she went to take care of the sheep (repeat)
She went to take care of something
and your uncle Abu Shadi

Alush, It’s morning already
The harvesters are ahead of us
Bring the pick and shovel and also
a small sack for food (repeat)
Yalla yalla

From next to the water well I got
two pounds of tomato (repeat)
It was a good thing that made her happy.
Alush, It’s morning already
The harvesters are ahead of us
Bring the pick and shovel and also
a small sack for food (repeat twice)

Bibliography

Armbrust, Walter and Lindsay Wise, eds. (2005): Culture Wars: The Arabic Music Video Controversy. Cairo: Transnational Broadcasting Studies.

Chalcraft, John T. (2009): The Invisible Cage: Syrian Migrant Workers in Lebanon. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Farraj, Johnny (2012): «Syrian Underground Band ‹Nos Tefaha› Sings To Dignity, Freedom And Justice» in: The Huffington Post, [Link], accessed October 8 2012.

Frith, Simon (2007): Taking Popular Music Seriously: Selected Essays. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.

Frischkopf, Michael, ed. (2010): Music and Media in the Arab World. Cairo: American University of Cairo Press.

Silverstein, Shayna (2012): «Syria’s Radical Dabke» in: Middle East Report 263, p 33–37.

Toynbee, Jason and Dueck, Byron, eds. (2012): Migrating Music. New York: Routledge.

Discography

Ali El Dik. Aloush. Lourd Sound Productions and Future Productions. 2004: Lebanon.
Ali El Dik. Samra wa Ana El Hasweidi. Lourd Sound Productions and Future Productions. 2006: Lebanon.
Walid Sarkis. Abu El Subtain Haidar. Lourd Sound Productions. 2006: Lebanon.
Zeina Hamia. Haflat El ‘Aasi. 2006. Lourd Sound Productions. 2006: Lebanon.
Naim El Sheikh. Taht El ‘Arisha. Lourd Sound Productions. 2006: Lebanon.
Zeina Saqar. Ughraniya wa Dabkat. Lourd Sound Productions. 2006: Lebanon.

References

[1] Worker remittances from Lebanon to Syria are estimated to be approximately $1 billion (Chalcraft 2009).

[2] Abu Hussein. Personal Interview. Beirut, Lebanon. June 29, 2006.

[3] The abject status of Bedouin identity in Syria may be linked to the extreme objectification and denigration of Sawas, who has been accused of sexual promiscuity and labeled «red-hot fire» (nar ahmar). She has also been censured for her prior work as an entertainer in a nightclub.

[4] Walid Baghdadi. Personal interview. Beirut, Lebanon. June 13, 2006.

[5] Abu Hussein. Personal interview. Beirut, Lebanon. June 29, 2006.

[6] An expression of wonder.

[7] Nickname for Ali that infers a lion (likely related to his thick hair).

This text has been published first in the Norient book «Out of the Absurdity of Life». Click on the image to know more.

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