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A Review Of

A Time of Peace

by Brothers of the Baladi

 

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Summary

This is a collection of traditional Christmas songs, the majority religious in nature, performed on traditional Middle Eastern acoustic instruments with underlying Middle Eastern rhythms. The arrangements are all instrumental. A Time of Peace

 

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Fact Sheet

Musical Style Christmas (mostly Christian hymns)
Instruments Ouz, zurna, qanoun, ney, bass, riqq
Dance Style Best Suited To... Fusion, Liturgical
Recommended Dance Skill Level All levels
Length of Music 41:13
Number of Songs 15
Packaging Liner notes contain a bit of information about Middle Eastern instruments

 

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Description

This album contains a collection of Christmas songs, mostly Christian, played on traditional Middle Eastern instruments.

Most (but not all) of the songs follow the structure of opening with a solo on a single instrument (often qanoun), then swelling into a group of instruments playing together as the song progresses. For each song, a Middle Eastern rhythm is layered underneath the main melody line. The melody-line instruments used include zurna, bass, bells, bouzouki, qanoun, oud, and ney. The percussion instruments included darbuka/tabla, zarb, riqq, davul, tar, and ka├žiklar.

Generally speaking, the rhythms come through clearly and easy to hear.

 

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Songs Included

 

Song Title

Length

Music Clip?

Comments

Deck the Halls 2:38 Yes Ayyoub rhythm. Up-tempo and fun. At one point, there is a dueling banjos effect between qanoun and oud.
We Three Kings 3:30 No  
O Little Town of Bethlehem 4:04 No Underlying rhythm is slow chiftetelli. Contains an improvisational segment in the middle on ney and oud against chiftetelli rhythm.
O Come All Ye Faithful 3:20 No Underlying rhythm is maqsoum with a joyful sound to it.
Coventry Carol 1:17 Yes Played in the style of an oud taqsim. When it starts, it sounds like a typical oud solo, but then subtly slips into the recognizable melody of "Coventry Carol". No percussion or other instruments playing rhythm -- preserves the free-form taqsim format throughout.
O Tannenbaum 3:14 Yes Spirited 6/8 rhythm. Lots of fun -- this has become my favorite arrangement of this song!
Good King Wenceslaus 1:46 No Syrtos rhythm, with lots of energy. I really like it.
Little Drummer Boy 3:52 No Slow maqsoum rhythm. Ends with a nice drum solo, but not even the Brothers of the Baladi can make me like this song.
Joy to the World 1:53 Yes Played entirely on zurna. It's okay, but not my favorite track on this album. Uses ayyoub as rhythm.
Angels We Have Heard on High 1:46 No Uses slow maqsoum rhythm.
Silent Night 3:21 No Played as a ney solo, with an underlying chiftetelli rhythm. Very gentle sound.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing 2:08 No  
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear 2:18 No  
Away in a Manger 3:46 No Done as a qanoun taqsim without rhythmic accompaniment.
The First Noel 3:20 No Some bouzouki improvisation in the middle.

 

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Is It Right for You?

You Will Probably Enjoy This Music If...

  • You enjoy listening to traditional religious-themed Christmas songs.
  • You're seeking suitable music to accompany Middle Eastern style of dance within the context of a Christmas pageant or special church service.
  • You'd like to play familiar Christmas music as background for a restaurant, Christmas party, dance event, or other occasion and you like the idea of using a Middle Eastern flavor for the arrangements of these songs.

This Music Probably Isn't Right for You If...

  • You're really not interested in the traditional European Christmas music.
  • You don't feel a need to add Christmas music to your collection.

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • The use of Middle Eastern instruments and rhythms gives these traditional songs a fresh new sound. I'm very, very tired of hearing ponderous or artsy-fartsy arrangements of these songs blasting me in malls, television commercials, and other places during the holiday season, yet I found myself enjoying these arrangements by the Brothers Of The Baladi as I drove along in my car.
  • These arrangements provide pleasant inspiration for Christmas-themed Oriental dance fusion performance. The use of Middle Eastern instruments and rhythms gives them a sufficiently Middle Eastern spin to seem "right" for a seasonal show.
  • The album contains a collection of a relatively large number (15) individual songs, so even if you don't like a couple of them, there are still enough others to make the album worth having if you like the general style of music.
  • The liner notes contain a brief glossary listing 11 Middle Eastern musical instruments with a brief description of each.
  • The artwork for the CD label is beautiful. It really attracts my attention.

What I Didn't Like:

  • The collection is contaminated with the song "The Little Drummer Boy" which I really dislike. Even Michael Beach's drum solo couldn't make me like it.
  • I found myself wishing there had been more secular songs instead of the heavy emphasis on Christian themes. I might use the Christian songs if dancing in a Christmas pageant or doing a liturgical dance, but for secular performances I prefer to avoid the religious songs.

 

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Conclusion

This collection of songs is certainly suitable for the typical things that people use Christmas music for, such as background music while driving in a car, mood music in a restaurant, etc.

I personally wouldn't use the Christian hymns for belly dance performances unless it was within the context of a liturgical dance or Christmas pageant, with folkloric costuming. But the more secular songs such as "Deck the Halls" or "O Tannenbaum" could be fun to use for a belly dance performance at a holiday hafla.

 

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Disclosures

I have been familiar with Brothers Of The Baladi music since about 1986, and I have many of their recordings in my music collection. I always enjoy watching them perform live, because they project great energy from the stage and they come across as very dancer-friendly. Although we have had some e-mail correspondence and they once invited my troupe to dance in a live show that they organized, I wouldn't claim to know them very well.

 

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To Buy It

A Time of Peace

Artist: Brothers of the Baladi
Album Title: A Time of Peace

Brothers Of The Baladi
P.O. Box 14083
Portland, OR 97293-0083
U.S.A.

Telephone: (+1) (503) 288-4684
Email: mbeachbaladi@earthling.net

Web Site: www.baladi.com

Amazon Store: U.S. Canada U.K.

 

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