Saturday, July 2, 2011

New Yemenite music with Shlomit Levi

I'm working with a wonderful, Yemenite singer in Israel, Shlomit Levi, pictured left.  These songs are not in Hebrew but in Yemenite, occasionally with some other language thrown in.  Yemenite is kind of a dialect of Arabic, spoken by the Jews of Yemen, most of whom are here in Israel now.

The first song "רוחי"pronounced "Ruchi" meaning "my spirit," was written by Aharon Amram, the father of Yemenite music in Israel.  Shlomit added some sections to the original.  It's usually done to a "Dasa" rhythm which is in 7/8.  I added an extra beat to put it into a more symmetrical 4/4 and as the song is very emotional, dealing with lost love and eventually a suicide, I began it with a heartbeat-sounding groove.  It's the first thing you hear.  The song ends with it, stopping.

Shlomit sang lots of vocals at my studio.  She had many ideas and we got them all.  At last count, I had something like 25 vocal tracks.  I laid down a balalaika part, which functioned as a sort of a drone with a groove and later added some rock guitar, anticipating a big, rock drum performance to build the song.

The excellent drumming you hear is Matan Shmuely, from the Israeli, metal band Orphaned Land, whom Shlomit also sings with.  I arrived at the studio with a chart which was more like a rough sketch, really.  I gave it to Matan and he went through a take.  Shlomit and I suggested a few changes and he walked back in and nailed it on the next take- punches, breaks, groove, and all.  Matan is pictured on the left.

Powerful performance, perfectly complemented by the creative, bass playing of Moran Baron whom I recorded later at my own studio.  Moran also played bass on my "From Another World" album, including the song, "Adir Hu," which I wrote about in an earlier blog.

The solo in the song features my good friend Gili Liber on ney.  Gili has a restaurant in town with his wife Ayelet and I love to go there to sample Ayelet's unique and tasty cooking and hang out with Gili.  He has nice touch with ethnic flutes and it seemed to fit the song so we agreed to meet over at his studio where I recorded him.  I love the warm sound he gets, very breathy and moody.  That's Gili on the right, playing his ney.  He's also the founder of the famed, Israeli world music group, Gaya.

Here is a link to the song which is only a few tweaks away from being finished.  Go to:

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