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.
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).
to Jatinder Thakur, my musical companion for over 20 years, and the wonderful
violinist Zoltin, who studied music in India
for a many years.
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.
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.
Song to the Siren (Buckley/Beckett, @1968, Third
Story Music, BMI)
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
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
Hear me sing:"Swim to me, Swim to me, Let me enfold
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
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
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
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
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.
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.