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On being culturally appropriate and having fun

For a few years I’ve been playing the oud. If you don’t know it, it’s the grandmother of the guitar and mother of the lute. Lots of strings, no frets and a long history.I’ve been interested, as an observer, of Arab music for a long time. I had friends who were into ‘world music’ (let’s not go there) and eventually I started discovering and listening to my own choices. I liked the rhythms, the sounds, the voices and form of the tunes. One day though, I heard music by Anouar Brahem, an oud player and composer from Tunisia. His cross-genre work inspired me to take up the instrument. I didn’t want to play traditional arab music because that didn’t feel right, so I used the oud purely as an instrument in its own right. I made an album with an acoustic guitarist that has had some very positive feedback and I could pick up the oud at night and improvise, just for fun.But, even though, I didn’t want to play tradition repertoire, I felt something was missing. It seemed silly to have such a bea…

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