ALBUM: Same Sound - But Different
ARTIST: Rüdiger Oppermann

Sleeve Notes


1 Wale up / 2 Afghan Caravan
I learned this melody in Afghanistan in 1976, where I traveled nomadic-style on a donkey, and studied Rubab and Dutar. I am still fascinated by this region with its two faces: on the one hand, a down-to-earth, rugged nomadic life with the reduction to the absolutely necessary utensils (which includes rugs and musical instruments), and on the other hand the great spirituality of the people, be it shamanistic, muslim or buddhist.
You can hear these two aspects in their music. The intro (wake up! - track 1) introduces the scale, which represents the transition from the dream world to reality. The beginning, question/answer part, and ending, follow classical Indian rules (Tihai).
Thanks to Jatinder Thakur, my musical companion for over 20 years, and the wonderful violinist Zoltin, who studied music in India for a many years.
I experienced the Afghani people as hospitable, warm-hearted yet tough. I saw men walking the streets of Herat hand in hand, with roses in their mouths. Poor illiterate nomads could recite Hafiz' poetry. Remember that 800 years ago, the north of Afghanistan was once the centre of a cosmopolitan, highly-educated civilisation, where women studied at the university. It's also the cradle of the Central Asian Harp.
This is one of my favourite harp pieces, which I first recorded in 1989 (on Durchs Wilde Harfistan). Since then, it has become more rugged and faster, and when I play it now, I can smell the scent of the steppe and taste the strong tea, sipped through a piece of rock sugar held between the teeth.

3 Song to the Siren (Buckley/Beckett, @1968, Third Story Music, BMI)

Long afloat on shipless oceans I did all my best to smile
'Till your singing eyes and fingers drew me loving into your isles
And you sang Sail to me, Sail to me Let me enfold you
Here I am, Here I am Waiting to hold you

Did I dream you dreamed about me? Were you hare when I was fox?
Now my foolish boat is leaning broken, lovelorn on your rocks.
For you sang "Touch me not, touch me not, Come back tomorrow."
Oh my heart, oh my heart shies from the sorrow.

I'm as puzzled as an oyster I'm as riddled as the tide.
Should I stand amid the breakers? Or shall I lie with death my bride?
Hear me sing:"Swim to me, Swim to me, Let me enfold you."
Here I am. Here I am, waiting to hold you.

4 Ocean Love
I wrote this piece for the Swiss dance theatre RIGOLO, as a part of their 2004 production. It is music for a pas-de-deux, using the sounds of Mongolian horsefiddle (Morin Khoor) and traditional vocals with the wonderful, tender voice of West African singer Tata Dindin, a European consort of viola da gamba - players, shaman drums and harp. Combining all these different sounds into an integrated new whole, the rugged with the sweet, was very challenging for me. I find myself somewhat overwhelmed by the subtle power of this music.

6 Casa Bulag
I have strong connections to Mongolia and its music. Enkh Jargal lived with us for 9 years, and I’ve traveled several times to Cent ra I Asia. In this piece I combine a traditional folk melody (from AltanBulag) with a Moroccan "gnawa" bass rift from Casablanca. Enkh Jargal is a real master of the Morin Khoor and shamanic singing, and in the 9 years he has spent in Germany, has started to improvise and even rap -- in Mongolian!
Several times we rode together through the steppes, fell off horses, stayed in nomadic Yurts, with little water and a lot of tea and lamb stew, under the endless skies of Mongolia.
TIre lyrics talk about the tension between traditional life and modern times. You find modern problems even in Mongolia:
Song: I ride my small yellow horse. The steppe is endless, the path is long, but I will come back to you.
Rap: Hey my friend, come here and sit by my side share my thoughts. Don't destroy nature for gold silver and stone. Catastrophe will come and get you. the desert will grow and eat you. Stop the destruction of our environment!

8 Festina Lente
This is so inherently a harp piece that you can hardly play it on other instruments. Two harps interlace, accompanied by Zoltan's violin. The harpists fingers move quickly, still this music leaves a relaxed, layed-back feeling in the player. Fast or slow? I do not know.

9 Irritation and Improvisation on Hildegard
Although I have played Hildegard’s melody for many years, I have been hesitant to record it. Now I use this theme from Symphonia Harmoniae Celestium Revelatorum as a basis for improvisation and electronic metamorphosis. The simple and perfect beauty of this melody reflects the clear spirit of its composer even 1000 years later. It is a piece for the spirit, not for the heart, and I try to keep it that way, not putting too much emotion into it. The technique of improvisation I use is from the old Irish and European medieval bards, keeping the melodies homophonic, not adding harmonies.... ornamenting with triplets, pickups and other turns and reinforcing important notes by octave doubling. In the free part I use ideas from sufi improvisation. It seems clear to me that there was a strong musical connection between 11th century Central European, Islamic and Bardic styles. I accompany myself using loops created by sampling my live playing, both in its original form and reversed. Thus this piece is a combination of state-of-the-art technology and the bardic spirit.

10 Flutter By, Butterfly
When I started playing the Irish Harp, of course, it was with traditional Irish melodies. I see a connection between the architecture of these ancient tunes and the typical interlacing ornaments like the ones I designed and carved on my harp.
The popular BUTTERFLY piece swings very beautifully when I play it with Park Stickney, who adds a new spice to this music. I feel honoured that the world's top Jazz Harp player plays in a duo with me, and it is a new, interesting task for me to combine his chromatic and my modal ways of improvisation. It keeps me awake. The combination of bronze wire strings and Park's nylon strings also rings a different bell.

11 If six was nine
(Hendrix) (© 1967, Experience Hendrix, BMI) / Fall Mountains, just don’t fall on me
Being a harper, I also know about the disadvantages of our instrument. It is hard to play sustained melody lines, and the instrument naturally has low volume. To change that, I invented an electric harp, which gives me the whole range of sounds you would expect from an electric guitar. Finally I can play the blues and Hendrix’ music with a Hendrix feeling. This piece also refers to Voodoo Child and All Along the Watchtower, two of my favourite pieces. I also allude to Hendrix when I play the harp reversed at the end of the piece. After the development of this instrument (in 1989) I played solely on electric harps for a couple of years, until I had shocked my audience into submission.

12 The Wave (Tsunami)
This piece was also commissioned for the dance theatre. In three minutes, it should describe the ocean in turmoil, from harmless beach splashing to the deadly destruction of the enormous Tsunami wave. The piece is based on an earlier harp duo piece (Ennanga), spiced up by strings (viola da gamba) and organ. The voices follow each other as in a mongolian longsong. We recorded this piece three months before the Tsunami hit South Asia.



Recorded September 2004
At Katapult Studio, Karlsruhe, Germany
Sound engineer, mixing, mastering: Kai Schlünz
Artwork: Christian Kühnel

All rights reserved. Unauthorised duplication is a violation of applicable laws. Made in Germany.

This page was last updated on 27 June, 2006