Music On The Desert Road

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"Music On The Desert Road: a sound travelogue" (Angel Records, Ang 35515, 1956), by "ethnomusicologist" Deben Bhattacharya. Contains selected pieces from a collection of over forty hours of recording made during an overland journey to India. The record contains folk music of Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, performed by native musicians and recorded 1955-56.

The liner notes

“The music on this record represents selected pieces from a collection of over forty hours of recording made during an overland journey to India. The journey started from London in the middle of August, 1955, and ended in Paris by the following March. The rate of progress was fairly slow and my plans flexible in order to cope with the caprices and spirit of the musicians whose greatness lies in their skill in improrvising within traditional themes. In every country though which I passed, I found a living tradition of folk music, each folk musician leaving his individual mark upon the music of the country. These continuous but small additions and alterations are the natural spirit and life of folk song and music. Rigid laws and revivalism seem to push it towards artificiality and destruction.”

Track list

Side One

1. Music from Central Anatolia (3′30)

2. "Mevludu Nebevi", a religious chant from the Turkish-Syrian border (4′26)

3. "Rasd", song in praise of the prophet,recorded during the evening service of the Dervishes.(1′59)

4. Bedouin dance music from Katana, twenty kilometers west of Damascus, Syria. (2′25)

5. Bedouin coffe grinding, recorded in a Bedouin camp eight kilometers away from the Jordan frontier.(1′51)

6. "Kasam-e-Meru", a section from a Kurdish ballad accompanied by rattling spoons. (2′17)

7. "Baba Karam" folkloric love song from south of Tehran, Iran (4′33)

Side Two

1. On a pair of Zarb drums, a drummer imitates the rhythm of a train. The whistle is produced by the mouth. (1′29)

2. "Humayun". Modern orchestration of the traditional Persian mode Humayun, using mixed instruments - both European and Persian - such as accordion, two violins, rattle, two Tars, Santur and Zarb drum. The present recording is only the instrumental prelude in the key of F minor, to a series of love songs in Humayun mode which continues for twenty minutes. (2′06)

3. Atan dance music on Surna and Dhol drum: an Afghan national dance (1′38)

4. "Neemakai", a popular form of Pasto folk song. (2′37)

5. "Zila", recorded in Banaras, India (6′43)

6. Temple bells and drums from a Bengali Kali temple in Bombay, India (5′32)

Quote by Zappa

"For years I had something called 'Music On The Desert Road', which was an album with all kinds of different ethnic music from the Middle East. I used to listen to that all the time." - FZ in "Frank Zappa, Unholy Mother", an interview with "Guitarist Magazine" (June 1993).

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