Marwan Abado solo

My new album is a solo work. Since the release of my first solo work Son of the South in 1999, I have recorded numerous projects with many musicians. We are at the height of the information revolution, surrounded by digital music, and our choices in music as in many things are virtually limitless; nevertheless, I chose solitude and loneliness to work on this album. I held my oud close and immersed myself completely in the humble musical story it told me. I chose a cosy, intimate place to record the CD: the studio of my friend and fellow musician Bernie Rothauer, on the outskirts of Salzburg.

When it came to finding a name for the work, I wanted something that would confuse both Arabic and German speakers - not out of any malicious intentions, but merely to provoke their curiosity. A raushana is 'a balcony through which light enters, or the place in which drinks are kept', and appeared as an architectural feature in the Mamluk period in Egypt. It suggests an intimate space, a place of pleasure, especially given what we know about the opulence of Mamluk life. For German speakers, raushana recalls the word rausch, in common usage since the Middle Ages, meaning 'intoxication' or 'ecstasy' - which conjure up the atmosphere of Mamluk life equally well…

The word raushana has a personal connection for me, too: between the years 1975 and 1985 I lived with my family in Beirut, Lebanon, in the area called Raouché. Despite the fact that the name originates in the French word rocher (rock), it becomes raushana when adopted into Arabic. Raouché was my balcony of pleasure, my peephole over the Mediterranean sea. With childlike curiosity and the images of yesteryear in my mind, I held my oud close and played pieces reminiscent of suites from the Western musical tradition. The similarity is not exact, though - Western suites lack the fragrance of the breeze on an Oriental balcony.

The text mediates the songs in this work, with the music accompanying the poetry. The images and metaphors of two songs in particular will be rather unfamiliar to the Western listener, despite the presence of translations into both German and English: the image of a purebred stallion, for example, as a metaphor for my people, the Palestinians, who have so long struggled for their freedom. From the perspective of the Diaspora, 'Stay' tells the story of the true Palestinian resistance, setting aside the forces who have tried to co-opt and monopolise it. The Palestinian resistance belongs to all the sons and daughters of the Palestinian people.

In 'East Mediterranean', meanwhile, my ironic use of the discourse of classical Arabic poetry as a comment on contemporary Arab culture's inability to step over the bounds of its discourse is beyond the powers of the art of translation.

The final song is dedicated to the Arab Spring which brought hope to life, a hope which is echoed in my words:
There's still a friend
Who'll keep their promise
And the road is pleasant
With ever more stories to tell…

I hope this introduction does not spoil your curiosity or enjoyment of the album in any way. Music alone is capable of expressing what I have to say about myself, my pleasures, my stories of the night. Here, then, is my musical narration, Raushana.

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