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Where the Sea Kisses the Desert – Music from the Persian Gulf

Evening in Sur Oman                                                                                               Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser - mother of present Sheikh of Qatar with Rolf Killius at the British Library







Evening in Sur, Oman                                                                                         Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser - Mother of Present Sheikh of Qatar
                                                                                                                               with Rolf Killius at the British Library


In the last years Rolf Killius has worked and researched the rich traditional music of the Arabian Peninsula. He encountered these (mostly young) nations as multi-ethnic societies reflected in their rich musical culture.

Until recently Rolf was the Curator of Oral and Musical Cultures at the British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership in London. Within this project he digitised old shellac discs from the British Library archive and from his own material produced short films on traditional music from Oman, Kuwait and Qatar.
Read his articles on these countries:
    

LINK TO OMAN: SEA MEETS THE DESERT: REFLECTIONS ON TRADITIONAL MUSIC IN OMAN
LINK TO KUWAIT: HIDDEN TREASURERS: REFLECTIONS ON TRADITIONAL MUSIC IN KUWAIT
LINK TO KUWAIT: KUWAIT TIMES: TRADITIONALLY MODERN: DIGITIZING GULF MUSIC
LINK TO QATAR: MODERNITY MEETS TRADITION: REFLECTIONS ON TRADITIONAL MUSIC


The research begins with the music played in the music clubs and coffee houses of the small towns along the coasts of Kuwait, Bahrain and Iraq in the 1930s and 1940s.
He revisits the first international Arabic music conference, which was conducted 1932 in Cairo and asks how this important conference relates to the Gulf music of the present. Many recordings from these days are only available on old and fragile shellac discs. Eventually the ‘shellac years’ ended with the issue of more recordings from Kuwait and Iraq in the roaring 1960s.

From these past days Rolf turns to the present hypo-modern multi-cultural societies along the Persian Gulf. In Qatar, Kuwait and Oman he filmed traditional music performances of the Arabic and long-term resident Indian communities. In these places he discovered the musically rich sea-music created by people working on the ships. For him the sea-music is the most-defining musical genre of the Gulf and has numerous influences from Africa and India. Although the times have changed and no Gulf-Arab works nowadays on a ship these music is still alive and practised by the descendants of Arab seamen. 

In his research Rolf relates his own contemporary footage to these historical recordings and offers suggestions and ideas.  He questions the concept of mono-ethnic societies often perceived by the rulers of the Gulf countries and asks whether music expresses the sentiments of a society and how musical culture can be a factor in solving difficult socio-political situations and stalemates.

See more following these links:
            

LINK TO: BRITISH LIBRARY: MUSICAL JOURNEYS TO OMAN: QATAR AND KUWAIT
LINK TO: QATAR DIGITAL LIBRARY: ARTICLES BY ROLF KILLIUS
LINK TO: BBC: THE SINGING SAILOR OF OMAN

  
                                                                                               












Sea musicians from Sur in Oman                                                                        Kuwait Sowt singer and Ud player Saleh Jrayid

                                                                                               









                                    
                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                          
Sowt and Zifan Dance in  Qatar                                                                           A Boon in Kuwait today                                                                        
                                                                                      


Baghdad, Iraq 2015
Baghdad Wahid: Course, Workshop and Soundcollage Project



                                                                                           














The Ruya Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Iraq invited Rolf Killius to conduct a course and workshop on sound art and intangible heritage and to initiate a project on traditional and contemporary sounds in Baghdad.
The theory and practical examples and their own experience enabled the participants to get an understanding of both, the opportunity to create a sound art project and the importance of archiving of traditional Iraqi music.
The course participants decided to start a sound art project called Baghdad Wahid. Baghdad Wahid centres on the idea of the oneness and uniqueness of the ancient city of Baghdad and its inhabitants. Recorded sounds of Baghdad could be presented on a ‘sound map’ online, in an exhibition onsite or both. For the project especially young people from all parts of Baghdad should be encouraged to participate with their own audio files, a short description and a photograph. The participants reached an agreement that all kinds of aural expressions should be allowed; only sound, which incite hatred and violence must be banned.


LINK TO: RUYA FOUNDATION: SOUND ART PROJECT BAGHDAD WAHID
LINK TO: IN IRAQ, YOUNG ARTISTS SEEK TO HEAL A MUSICAL HERITAGE


                                                                  

Radio Shows on Music of the Gulf region (in German)

Recently Rolf has written and produced eight hours of radio broadcast featuring music cultures from the Arabian Peninsula for the Bayerischer Runfunk in Munich/Germany
    

LINK TO: RADIO SHOWS ON MUSIC OF THE GULF IN GERMAN

The themes of the one-hour radio shows are:

I       Music of Qatar and UAE
II      Music of Saudi Arabia
III     Music of Kuwait
IV     Music of Oman
V      Muisc of Iraq
VI     Music Jemen
VII    Music of the Arabian Peninsula on shellac disks 
VIII   Music of the immigrants on the Arabian Peninsula 

For the radio shows Rolf used shellac disks, his own recordings in Qatar, Kuwait and Oman, numerous interviews with Gulf music experts/musicians and a few new commercial recordings.







Contact Rolf:  rolfkillius 'at' yahoo.com