Sunday, March 06, 2005


Cairo, March 6

Rababa Orchestra, Orbit TV, and Teaching Saiid’s Troupe My Piece!

Today was the most incredible day yet.

Rababa Orchestra

I was invited to sit in with a folkloric orchestra. Bashira basically
just got off the plane and we had to rush over there.

The rehearsal took place in a theater which is part of the Ministry of
Culture. We got to the entrance and the guards made us show ID. I
handed them the Raquy and the Cavemen sticker, which they accept at
most security points as valid ID. The group was actually rehearsing
outside in the yard between the buildings. The conductor was in the
middle with a baton. The group consisted of about 8 rababas, six
mazhurs, six dohulas, zagat (zills), a few frame drums and six
dumbeks. What a powerful sound! Such simple songs but so GOOD! They
have these moments where it gets quiet and one person solos and then
there’s this kick ass dumbek break and then everyone comes in and I
feel like screaming with excitement! 

This orchestra is funded by the government. The members get $100 a
month to do two rehearsals a week and performances. Nobody had notes –
the conductor either sings or plays something on the muzhar and
everyone copies him. I picked up the song easily on the rababa, and I
got to play with them!!!!!! Unbelievably fun!

Orbit TV

We had to pry ourselves away from the Rababa orchestra to race over to
Said’s studio to be interviewed and filmed by Orbit TV. Saiid was all
dressed up and wearing these amazing shoes. They had already finished
Said’s interview so it was my turn.  I told them about myself and
talked a lot about what an honor it was for me to collaborate with

Then they asked us to play. We played the Nubian drum solo with Rami
and Natalia on bass and Bashira and Marjory on riq.

Then Saiid’s troupe came in and we played the two pieces that we’ve
been working on. Then the TV crew asked us to just jam a little and
Saiid sat on the floor (something he’s picked up from me) with me and
Bashira and we did question answer stuff! Bashira got to take a solo
and she did a GREAT job!

My Piece!

The film crew told us they would be at the concert and they will
interview us again after the show. Then Saiid asked me if I’d like to
teach his troupe one of my pieces!

Teaching Saiid’s Drummers My Composition!

Wow! I explained everything in Arabic. His troupe is SOOOOO good! They
were very attentive and were able to play the whole solo! I’m used to
giving my students written parts, and it was new to teach an entire
piece by ear. Saiid stood in the middle and helped me run the
rehearsal. I’ve never had my pieces played with such a huge sound! What
a thrill! I think Saiid’s drummers enjoyed playing it – its’ definitely
different from other stuff they play. So we’ll have a few more
rehearsals and they’ll play that piece with me and the girls and Rami
in the concert! Also Rami will play with the troupe in the other songs
as well.

 Dumbek Section –Hassan, Mohamed, Hassan, Mohamed, etc.

 By the way, almost every guy in Saiid’s troupe is named either Hassan
or Mohamed. When I’m working with them I just call every other guy
Mahamed and every other one Hassan. It seems to work.

I can’t express how honored I feel to have this opportunity. This is
the most exciting thing I’ve ever imagined doing. It’s a dream come

Whenever we finish rehearsing I go jam with the boys. There are three
boys. Mido is 5, Omar is 11, and Hummus is 14. They’ve taught me three
pieces so far (the only difference between the three pieces is the
intro) that we play together. They are bright, sweet and talented boys
and it’s so fun to play with them.

Future Cavemen – ‘Artist’ Family Boys

Tomorrow the girls and I are going to be filmed for another TV thing.

Also, Saiid told me tonight that he wants me to come back next year and
make an album with him!


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