Monday, November 11, 2019

Captain Beefheart - Poetry Reading (1993)

Captain Beefheart (1941-2010)

Poetry Reading (1993)

Guitars, Wood Guitars (Dec 1977) 

A 1993 poetry reading CD was included in the Stand Up To Be Discontinued exhibition book and later reproduced in the Pearls Before Swine book.

At the time, many found the recording shocking and upsetting. This was the first time Don Van Vliet had been widely heard in public since 1982’s Ice Cream For Crow and the intervening 11 years had clearly not been kind. He sounded far older than his 52 years and rumours of illness seemed to have confirmation.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Les Filles de Illighadad

Les Filles de Illighadad is a Tuareg band founded by Fatou Seidi Ghali in Illighadad, a village in the Sahara Desert in Niger. Ghali, it is claimed, is the first Tuareg woman to play guitar professionally.
Ghali taught herself to play on her brother's guitar; while women did perform music among her people, they didn't play guitar; rather, they played a style of music called tende, centered on a drum made with mortar and pestles, a style that influenced Tuareg guitar playing but isn't generally part of the music played by Tuareg men. Les Filles de Illighadad incorporate tende with guitar playing, "asserting the power of women to innovate using the roots of traditional Tuareg music". Ghali usually plays with her cousin, Alamnou Akrouni.

Ghali and the Filles recorded an album with Christopher Kirkley, for his series "Sahel Sounds". Recordings were made in the open air, and consisted of recordings of Ghali in the daytime, and the Filles playing in the village at night. Following the release of the album, the Filles did a short European tour, and Ghali used her earnings to buy more cattle.Mariama Salah Aswan left the group to begin a family; she was replaced by the second Tuareg woman guitarist, Fatimata Ahmadelher.

Sublime recordings from rural Niger. Two very different sides of Tuareg music - dreamy ishumar acoustic guitar sessions, and the hypnotic polyphonic tende that inspires it. Guitarist Fatou Seidi Ghali and vocalist Alamnou Akrouni lead the troupe, named after the village. Recorded in the open air studio of the desert.

released February 24, 2016

Recorded in Illighadad, Niger 2014
Guitar: Fatou Seidi Ghali
Tende: Talamnou Akrouni, Fatou Seidi Ghali et amis
Production/Art: Christopher Kirkley

Les Filles de Illighadad present their first ever studio album “Eghass Malan.” The female led avant rock group hailing from the village of the same name bring their new genre of Tuareg guitar mixed with traditional rural folk. Versed in tradition, Fatou Seidi Ghali and her band have created contemporary studio versions that are unlike anything ever before recorded, transporting rural nomadic song into the 21st century.

Les Filles are all from Illighadad, a secluded commune in central Niger, far off in the scrubland deserts at the edge of the Sahara. The village is only accessible via a grueling drive through the open desert and there is little infrastructure, no electricity or running water. But what the nomadic zone lacks in material wealth it makes up for deep and strong identity and tradition. The surrounding countryside support hundreds of pastoral families, living with and among their herds, as their families have done for centuries. 

The sound that defines rural Niger is a music known as “tende.” It takes its name from a drum, built from a goat skin stretched across a mortar and pestle. Like the environs, tende music is a testament to wealth in simplicity, with sparse compositions built from a few elements, vocals, handclaps, and percussion. Songs speak of the village, of love, and of praise for ancestors. It is a music form dominated by women.

Collective and communal, tende is tradition for all the young girls of the nomad camps, played during celebrations and to pass the time during the late nights of the rainy season. In the past years, certain genres of Tuareg music have become popular in the West. International acts of “desert blues” like Tinariwen, Bombino, and Mdou Moctar have become synonymous with the name “Tuareg.” But guitar music is a recent creation. In the 1970s young Tuareg men living in exile in Libya and Algeria discovered the guitar. Lacking any female vocalists to perform tende, they began to play the guitar to mimic this sound, replacing water drums with plastic jerrycans and substituting a guitar drone for the vocal call and response.

The exiled eventually traveled home and brought the guitar music with them. In time, this new guitar sound came to eclipse the tende, especially in the urban centers. If tende is a music that has always been sung by woman, the Tuareg guitar was its gendered counterpart, and Tuareg guitar music is a male dominated scene. Fatou Seidi Ghali, lead vocalist and performer of Les Filles is one of only a few Tuareg female guitarists in Niger. Sneaking away with her older brother's guitar, she taught herself to play.

While Fatou's role as the first female Tuareg guitarist is groundbreaking, it is just as interesting for her musical direction. In a place where gender norms have created two divergent musics, Fatou and Les Filles are reasserting the role of tende in Tuareg guitar. In lieu of the djembe or the drum kit, so popular in contemporary Tuareg rock bands, Les Filles de Illighadad incorporate the traditional drum and the pounding calabash, half buried in water. The forgotten inspiration of Tuareg guitar, they are reclaiming its importance in the genre and reclaiming the music of tende.

Hypnotic guitar riffs, driving rhythm, and polyphonic resonant vocals combine to create an organic sound that is timeless and ancient, bridging ancient tradition and modern worlds. With songs of love, celebrating the village, and praise for the desert and its people, Les Filles create a repertoire of ancient songs, village tende favorites, and new classics.

released October 28, 2017

Produced by Christopher Kirkley
Co-Produced by Les Filles de Illighadad, Mathieu Petolla, Bear Machine
Engineered / Recorded by Bear Machine: Björn Sonnenberg & Jan Niklas Jansen at Bear Cave Studios, Cologne
Residency support Week-End Fest
Mixed by Jason Powers
Mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk
Artwork by Christopher Kirkley
Photo by Mathieu Petolla

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Rudra Veena: Jyoti Hegde

Jyoti Hegde (Sanskrit: ज्योती हेग्डे, IPA: [dʑjoːtɪ ɦeːɡɖeː]) is a Rudra Veena and Sitar artist from Khandarbani Gharana. She has pursued music since age 12 and completed her Masters in Music from Karnatak University of Dharwad. Vidhushi Jyoti Hegde is the first and only woman player of Rudra Veena in the world. She is a Grade-A artist of Rudra Veena and Sitar with the All India Radio and regularly sought after for concerts. 

Jyoti's Education in music began at the age of 16 under the guidance of Pandit Late Bindu Madhav Pathak. A marathon study of 15 years in Rudraveena and Sitar increased her thirst for excellence and she underwenttraining in Dhruapad style with Pandit Indhudhar Nirodi. She has taken guidance in Rudraveena by the renowned Rudraveena master Ustad Asad Ali Khan of New Delhi and Ustad Bahauddin Dagar of Mumbai. Guru-Shishya Parampar is manifest in her perfection as a musician and her attitude of homage to the art she has mastered.

Jyoti Hegde has performed on various stages all over India and being a rare lady artist who can play both Sitar and Rudraveena. Rudraveena is world heritage instrument protected and promoted by the UNESCO. The Rudra Veena or the Been is considered the great grandfather of all stringed instruments in the Indian subcontinent.

Awards Jyoti Hegde has won various awards for her performance which include the Naada Nidhi award, Kala Chetana and Dhrupadmani. She has also won various competitions across India like Karavali Utsav, AIR competition etc. Presently now sought after internationally she has performances taking her to various corners of the world.

Vidhushi Jyoti Hegde is one of the first women player of the Rudraveena in the world. She is unique because she has mastered the two instruments which are totally different. When the audience listen Rudraveena, they experience to the treasure of the depth of the Nada-Nidhi or Ocean, and as they listen to the Sitar, they are immersed in the glow of attractive melody.

In a motherly manner she considers the two diverse instruments as her two daughters, who need equal attention, love and affection. A steady and rigorous practice towards perfect performance is not the only side in this Vidhushi; she loves experimentation and has organized Jugalbandi and Pancha Sitar programs by her students. Her renown has attracted deciples from India and Abroad. She is also a prolific writer, publishing articles on Rudraveena.

As she starts playing on the lower octaves of the Ragas, the melodious shower of music entices the audience and she gradually, phase by phase, takes them into a trance as the notes lead them, to 'Nada-Samadhi'. It is an experience that is impossible to verbalize. She becomes an enchantress as she takes the audience into confidence with a promise of some great secret and becomes one with the raga and the audience. The audience become spell bound. According to her students, they have a Kaleidoscopic experience, when she guides them.

Rudra Veena or the Been, the essence of Nada Yoga

Mythology has it that the Rudra veena was created by Shiva or Rudra. His inspiration was the image of his wife Parvati in deep sleep her hands folded over her chest. This image inspired him to create the Rudra Veena also known as the Been. The Veena was also thus called Parvati veena but it is usually confused by the south indian veena. The Rudra Veena is primarily a large plucked string instrument used in Hindustani Dhrupad music, one of major types of veena played in Indian classical music.

It has a long tubular body with a length ranging between 54 and 62 inches made of wood or bamboo. Two large-sized, round resonators, made of dried and hollowed gourds, are attached under the tube. Twenty-four brass-fitted raised wooden frets are fixed on the tube with the help of wax. There are 4 main strings and 3 chikari strings completes the physical description of this ancient instrument.

History has it that in the ancient times before the present form was evolved the Veena was made out of animal guts for strings, two gourds and a bamboo tube. Called the Ektantri with one string, later the dvitantri as more strings were added. It was used in the ancient accompaniment of the chanting of the Samveda. The present form came in to its fullness around the 16th century as the Been entered the royal courts of India under the patronage of the kings who were the primary preservers and supporters of the musical lineages of this art.

The Rudra veena is said to be the only instrument that is used for the deeper study of Nad Yoga. Used by ascetic musicians and yogis to attune the mind to still vibrations, it is known to induce deeply transcendental states in an evolved listener or musician. Sound is said to be of two types. According to ancient scriptures there are two types of sound – Aahat and Aanhat "struck" and "unstruck".

The "struck sound" is called so because it is always caused by physical impact when a vibration of air is produced. It is any sound that we hear in nature or man-made sounds, musical and non-musical. The "unstruck sound" is not produced by any physical impact. It is the vibration of the ether, the eternal sound of the Universe, ever present and unchanging. This type of sound can be heard from within by self-realized enlightened persons after many years of meditation and spiritual discipline. The Rudra Veena, though belonging to the "struck" kind of sound, actually represents the "unstruck" eternal vibration of the Universe thus awakening the hearts.

What is interesting to note is that the story of the origin of the veena is itself symbolic. Shiva represents the supreme consciousness; Parvati is representative of the act of creation life itself. The Veena touches upon the stillness of the supreme God consciousness it stirs the depth of one’s spiritual being and attunes us with the eternal form of our self. It is this slow moving intricate subtle development of its music that is the reason that in todays fast paced world people are more used to the entertainment provided by the virtuoso silver finger movement of sitar but the fact remains that the Rudra veena is the mother of all stringed instruments of the indian subcontinent. Each has taken an element from it and developed it further.

Traditionally the Been was played in the traditional pose of the VAJRA Asana. The breathing technique of the player impacting the sound quality. Today there are several techniques of holding the instrument but the essence lies in the traditional pose, if its connection to Yoga is to be understood. The human form sitting in the vajra asana with both the arms extended out left towards the upper part of the veena and the right held close to the bottom gourd can be easily seen to form the swastika sign.

A swastika is symbolic of movement or Gati. Movement can be forward or backwards. In meditation the movement is backwards towards the source of Truth. In life it is forward towards action and Karma. Ancient symbols are to be understood more as symbolic of spiritual significance and not religious. The gourds are placed perfectly in this human Swastika body. The centre of The viberations arising out of the gourds meet exactly at the Marma bindu at the heart centre via the tube that connects the Gourds. This constant hitting at the centre by the viberations arising out of the strumming and pulling the strings laterally are what make it not just an instrument but a YANTRA.

Its an instrument that is worn and not just held on the body. The body of the musician and the instrument act as one. Thus making it extremely difficult to master and requires deep training and years of patience. Over the past few years the Been is gaining ground slowly and there is hope that it will grow due to increased interest in the national and international audience.