Arabic Violin Bass Piano Trio
Suite In Four Movements
SAMI KHESHAIBOUN (ARABIC VIOLIN)
ORA BOASSON HOREV (DOUBLE BASS)
YITZHAK YEDID (PIANO)
Arabic Violin Bass Piano Trio is a suite in four movements. I composed it in Australia in 2009. It premiered in Israel at the Jerusalem Theater’s Henry Crown Symphony Hall in March 2010. The composition is a continuation of my endeavour in Oud Bass Piano Trio (2005) to integrate classical Arabic music, Arabic-influenced Jewish music and contemporary Western classical music. This trio has therefore been composed for performers who have expertise both in these genres and in improvisation. The music makes manifest the tensions between the ancient and the new, the religious and the secular, the East and the West.
Arabic Violin Bass Piano Trio is an authentic expression of new music which incorporates a wide spectrum of contemporary and ancient styles. It creates a confluence between the Maqamat and the heterophonic textures of Arabic genres (classical Arabic music and Arabic-influenced Jewish music) and the compositional approaches of contemporary Western classical music.
The suite consists of six major sections in the First Movement (tracks 1-6), eight major sections in the Second Movement (tracks 7-14), four major sections in the Third Movement (tracks 15-18) and eight major sections in the Fourth Movement (tracks 19-26). The sections have been created with a range of different approaches, and musical elements have been repeated in diverse ways. The superimposition and synthesis of a variety of musical styles and contrasting compositional approaches and modes have been made possible by an overall connectedness in the work. This connectedness can, to a certain degree, be understood, perhaps subconsciously, by experiencing the performance of the piece or by listening to it without a break.
The titles of the works’ major sections have been chosen to evoke various musical images and to transfer ideas and thoughts that inspired my composition. The titles reflect, or perhaps document, events that occurred at the time the pieces were being composed. They can be divided into three main categories. The first category refers to Arabic musical forms and themes - for example, Taqsim, dedicated to the day of tomorrow and Belly dancing in an imaginary cult ritual. The second category refers to Jewish prayers and Jewish themes - for example, The High Priest’s whispered prayer on Yom Kippur as he leaves the Holy of Holies and a quote from the Yom Kippur prayer One, one and one, one and two, one and three, one and four, one and five. The third category refers to specific events that occurred while I was composing the piece - for example, Image of a homeless Holocaust survivor on the streets of Tel Aviv and The image of an old weary man. As in Oud Bass Piano Trio, the titles of these images have been chosen as a general guide to the feel of the composition. Individual listeners may assemble them into a story, according to their experiences, understanding or imagination. Moreover, I believe the titles create a musical narrative and convey emotions as well as presenting controversial religious issues and, to some extent, contentious political issues in the relatively safe haven of music making.
The First Movement comprises musical images of various textures and colours. It creates a fascinating fusion of cultures and styles that ebb and flow between precise execution and free-flowing, boundary-traversing playing. The music oscillates between Maqamat-based Arabic forms of improvisation in Taqsim (piano, 1st section, track 1) and in Maawal (violin, in parts of the 2nd section, track 2) to a la Jazz free improvisation in The image of an old weary man and The pianist’s gaze (2nd and 3rd sections, tracks 2 & 3), and between sounds without fixed pitches in Evolution of hatred and bitterness (5th section, track 5) to a semblance of the heterophonic textures of Piyyutim in His final request (6th section, track 6).
The prayer Seder Ha’avoda (Order of the Service) of Yom Ha’kippurim (the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jewish people) inspired the composition of the Second Movement. I strove to create a semblance of Piyyutim for Yom Ha’kippurim in a number of sections in the movement, and used quotes from the prayer in the section titles. Seder Ha’avoda is an ancient liturgical ritual from the time of the First and Second Temples. The prayer describes the order of the service which the High Priest performed at Beit Ha’Mikdash (the holy Temple in Jerusalem) on Yom Ha’kippurim. Yom Ha’kippurim was the only day in the year in which the High Priest was permitted to enter the Temple’s holy of holies. The prayer describes in great detail how he entered it and what he did there. The purpose of the High Priest’s work was to ask for atonement for the sins of the people of Israel. The movement opens with The High Priest’s whispered prayer on Yom Kippur as he leaves the Holy of Holies (1st section, track 8), which resembles a Sephardi-Mizrahi Piyyut. Here the players improvise the heterophonic textures of people praying. The 2nd section, the 5th section and the 7th section are freely improvised. Their titles - The dancers’ gleeful cries (2nd section, track 8), Eruption (5th section, track 11) and An even more powerful eruption (7th section, track 13) - have been chosen to suggest a mode of interpretation for the improvisation. Olive branches in the candelabra (3rd section, track 9) corresponds to the Dawr Hindi rhythmic pattern of classical Arabic music. The 4th section (track 10) contains two melodic lines and a short solo piano improvisation. The melodic lines replicate the division of the Dawr Hindi rhythmic pattern, but are performed in the style of “Gypsy music”. “And thus would he count” (6th section, track 12) resembles a traditional Arabic melody in a fast tempo. The concluding 8th section (track 14) is a development of the semblance of the Sephardi-Mizrahi Piyyut that appeared in the 1st section of this movement (track 7).
The Third Movement opens with a sad tableau Image of a homeless Holocaust survivor on the streets of Tel Aviv (track 15), and presents anger, anguish, distress and an unstable immoral situation. The double bassist’s voice (2nd section, track 16) is intensely melancholic. In this section, the double bassist creates a virtuoso improvisation, while the piano and the violin create the surface to this improvisation. Awakening the dead (3rd section, track 17) creates a “chaotic sound”. Here the violin and the double bass perform sounds without fixed pitches, whilst the piano part, as if intending to “awaken the dead”, consists of plucked low-register strings in forte-fortissimo. The movement concludes with An Israeli chorale, dedicated to the Holocaust survivor (track 18). This section merges a number of feelings and contrasting ideas: (1) the dedication to the Holocaust survivor and the universal concept that anyone who has been through such suffering deserves better than to be homeless in the streets of Tel Aviv, (2) the chorale that resembles a hymn of a Christian congregation, and (3) “Israeli chorale” that perhaps symbolizes an idea of merging forms of Judaism (Israeli) and Christianity (Chorale).
The Fourth Movement consists of eight sections that are rich in colours, and contrast modes, rhythms, tempi and musical genres. It opens with Cries of joy (track 19), a section consisting of two parts. The first part contains musical elements from the 2nd section of the First Movement (The image of an old weary man). The double bassist performs microtonal countertenor-like sounds, in this case imitating cries of joy. The second part simulates a belly dancer at an Arabic hafla (party). The violinist’s gaze (2nd section, track 20) presents a traditional Arabic Taqsim. Hallucinatory Debka dance (3rd section, track 21) presents a rhythmic dance-like pattern that is interrupted with Maqamat-based violin phrases and solo piano Maawals. The belly dancer from the opening section of this movement returns in Magic of a sensual belly dancer (4th section, track 22) with a variation on her earlier theme, and is followed by a Maqamat-based melody. A development of the microtonal, countertenor-like sound that was introduced in the 1st section recurs in And again the cries (5th section, track 23). The image of the old man (6th section, track 24) is a continuation of the melody and heterophonic textures that appeared in the First Movement. The madness of creation (7th section, track 25) presents an asymmetrical musical line is a fast tempo, followed by an avant-garde free improvisation. The suite concludes with Epilogue: the prayer of purification (track 26), repeating a short phrase from the Jewish prayer presented in the First Movement.
Arabic Violin Bass Piano Trio presents a model of understanding and reconciliation that I wish would apply to the day-to-day interactions between people, nations and religions. Our past traditions and history should be remembered and acknowledged and we should recognize that we are unable to change them. However, we must also understand that we are the ones creating the “new tradition”, and that in doing so, we have the responsibility - and, hopefully the willingness - to make changes in a sensitive, inclusive and informed manner. It is our obligation to build on the past for a better future, and actively, perhaps through the universally understood language of music, change negativity and hatred to positivity, hope and peace. Surely this should be our mission!
Composition by Yitzhak Yedid. ACUM
Produced Yitzhak Yedid
Coproduced by Volker Dueck
Recorded at The Jerusalem Music Centre, Mishkenot Sha’ananim
in Jerusalem, Israel, November 4th & 5th, 2011
Recording engineer: Zvika Hirshler
Mixing engineering and mastering: Udi Koomran
Artist Photos: Yair Yedid
Cover Photo: Volker Dueck
Price: $20 (includind post)
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Arabic Violin Bass Piano Trio (2011)
For violin, double bass and piano
Commissioned by IBA music
Duration: 55 minutes
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About the album
Yitzhak Yedid (born in Jerusalem in 1971) is already one of the most important contemporary crossover artists between classical and improvised music. The label "Third Stream" does not fit him perfectly despite this. With his increasing age, his composition share is increasing in importance on one hand, and the improvised parts are interwoven increasingly closely with the parts written down in notes. On the other hand, his focus is even more clearly than previously on the experience of music which determined his life at a young age. As a child, he often visited Syrian synagogues, and Arabian, Orthodox Jewish, Hasidic harmonies and melodies always remain part of his research and practice in music. He takes them up again in a very special way in his composition "Arabic Violin Bass Piano Trio". It is a work in four movements, which is neither classical nor jazz nor even "world music". Instead, it is the merging of these components and a continuation of "Oud Bass Piano Trio" from 2005 in a certain way.
Yedid composed the new work in Australia, where he has lived for the past few years, and it was first performed in Henry Crown Symphony Hall (Jerusalem) in March 2010. As with classical music by composers from Europe and the western hemisphere, it is meant to be heard in one sitting; the fields of tension, which the suite creates, are only developed then: between East and West, between classical and modern music, between the religious and the secular, and between composition and improvisation. And as little as the conflict in the Middle East dissolves into thin air, that is how little the tension of the music is dissolved and resolved. A challenge for listeners, who remain questioning and searching at the end, but neither without hope nor baffled.
First Movement Taqsim, dedicated to the day of tomorrow
First Movement The image of an old weary man
First Movement The pianist´s gaze
First Movement Poetic fractions
First Movement Evolution of hatred and bitterness
First Movement His final request
Second Movement The High Priest´s whispered prayer on Yom Kippur as he leaves the Holy of Hollies
Second Movement The dancers´ gleeful cries
Second Movement Olive branches in the candelabra
Second Movement Belly dancing in an imaginary cult ritual
Second Movement Eruption
Second Movement And thus would he count
Second Movement An even more powerful eruption
Second Movement One, one and one, one and two, one and three, one and four, one and five
Third Movement Image of a homeless Holocaust survivor in the streets of Tel Aviv
Third Movement The double bassist´s voice
Third Movement Awakening the dead
Third Movement An Israeli chorale, dedicated to the Holocaust survivor
Fourth Movement Cries of joy
Fourth Movement The violinist´s gaze
Fourth Movement Hallucinatory Debka dance
Fourth Movement Magic of a sensual belly dancer
Fourth Movement And again the cries
Fourth Movement The image of the old man from the First Movement
Fourth Movement The madness of creation
Fourth Movement Epilogue: the prayer of purification