Or: Thoughts about encountering Middle Eastern music
When we discuss the double bass in Middle Eastern music, we almost always have to discuss the issue of connecting musical styles: either when discussing the western instrument in eastern music or when discussing the skill required by the musician.
When you come from a background of one style and play another style it is always interesting to discover the universal things – the same things that make all music “work” and create a true experience for the performer and listeners like.
An interesting point I noticed in all the workshops I give is how naturally one can connect to a new style and truly enjoy it, despite cultural gaps. When western musicians obtain the tools needed to understand the basics of Arabic music in a language they understand, the encounter with the new style becomes natural, and the new musical world which is revealed before them is fascinating and interesting almost to everyone. Participants always ask to keep the note sheets and ask where they can listen to more of this music.
An excellent example of how musicians, and young ones in this case, accept this music naturally can be found in this video clip.
This video clip was shot at a workshop I gave at the Yehudi Menuhin School in England, along with the Maktub ensemble led by mandolin player Jacob Reuven. The students in this school are exceptionally talented, and it was an immense pleasure to work with them. You can see the joy and excitement these wonderfully talented young musicians derived from this new musical experience.