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Mediterranean Collage
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Mediterranean Collage

I consider myself a person whose identity is split by the root. Having an Israeli identity first, and a Moroccan identity second led me to search my roots through my field of interest –– music. Moroccan music was never recognized in the Israeli society as a significant component of its culture. Living and growing in a Moroccan family but part of the Israeli society, with all of its obligations, made me neglect the Moroccan part of my identity.

Moreover, it is important to understand that the Israeli culture and especially its music, is mostly influenced by the Western culture. As an Israeli, learning and developing among the Israeli society, I naturally have adapted to the basic Western culture values. Although, I grew up in a traditional Moroccan family, especially in the music aspect, during most of my academic years I have studied Western music on a Western instruments –– the piano, guitar, and voice. In my last two years at college I have decided to devote myself to the search of my own musical and cultural identity and to explore the subject of Hebrew music in Morocco, and how it contributed to the cultural heritage of Jewish communities in their countries of origin and in their adapting countries. I intend to incorporate the abovementioned cultural tensions into my composition.

The program is titled Mediterranean Collage, for piano, bass, violin, Oud (Arabic lute), nay (Arabic flute) darbuka (Hand drum) and tambourine, with a total duration of forty five minutes. It also features a dancer in one of the pieces.
Its structure is very similar to the Arab Nueba (Arab suite), or like the French dance–suite. It is a collage of few pieces that work together as a whole, and at the same time as individuals little pieces.

The work incorporates Western and Middle–Eastern musical characteristics. The Western characteristics are: the instruments, forms, and harmony. The Middle–Eastern characteristics are: the instruments, genres, maqamat (Arab scales), modes, and melodies. Typical to Middle–Eastern music, the Oud, darbuka, and tambourine performance will be improvizatory, within the parameters of some harmonic and rhythmic structure.

As for my Western music composition mentors, I worked with Professor Shafer Mahony, and Paul Moravec. My Middle Eastern music composition mentor was Mr. Simon Shaheen, a renowned composer and teacher of Near Eastern music at Manhattan School of Music, and internationally known virtuoso of both the Oud and the violin.

This program was first performed at the Lang recital hall in Hunter College on December 3rd, 1998, as part of the requirements for the completion of Master degree in music composition.

Yoel Ben-Simhon 2004 Sultana Music - iBox Powered